Most of the time, homeowners with underground oil tanks treat them with an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. They treat these tanks as incapable of breaking down and leaking until it is too late. Once a leak starts, it’s a race against the clock to contain the leak and protect the surrounding environment.
For homeowners aware they have an underground tank on their residential property, safety measures and precautions will notify you if there is a leak. Once reported, you have additional steps you need to take to properly contain the situation.
Leak Detection Basics
Figuring out if your underground oil tank suffers from a significant leak can prove challenging for most homeowners. Since the tank is buried deep underground, noticing outward physical signs can take longer than expected. The oil seeping into the surrounding area will have immediate effects, and however, it will take time before you notice the more significant side effects. Leak detection can be difficult but not impossible if you know what to look for.
The first step towards proper leak detection protocol centers on knowing how long typical oil tanks last and how environmental factors can affect those estimates. Most oil tanks will last around 20 years with proper maintenance and upkeep. However, as soon as they are buried, a slew of additional factors come into play that can alter those projections.
Factors Affecting Underground Oil Tank Longevity
Some of these factors include:
- The tank’s construction and installation
- Amount of groundwater around the tank
- If it’s buried near an electrical line
- Surrounding soil type
Choosing the right spot to bury your oil tank requires knowledge of your property and how these potential factors will affect your tank.
Finding the Source of the Leak
Underground storage tanks can prove challenging to tell if they started leaking as soon as it happened. This type of damage doesn’t immediately present itself due to the depth in which it’s buried. However, there are still signs you can be on the lookout for to tip you off.
If there are signs of soil contamination — discoloration, funky smells, etc. — then it’s time to take a sample of the contaminated soil and have it tested. However, since these tend to be slow leaks, these outward visual signs might take time to manifest themselves.
You can also keep an eye on your heating bill to check for inconsistencies. If you see a spike in your heating bill during the summer, it could indicate your underground oil tank has suffered damage, and you may need to look into how to remove the tank.
Another less common but more dangerous sign of a significant leak pertains to your and your neighbor’s water supplies. If you or your neighbors begin noticing changes in the water in your immediate residential area, it can be a sign of contamination through a tank leak. This represents the worst-case scenario and requires additional measures to contain and clean up the damage.
What to Do If You Find a Leak
When you discover or even suspect that you have an underground oil tank leaking on your property, you should call in the experts. Professional Tank and Environmental can come in, confirm you have a leak, and then remove the tank from your property. After your underground tank removal, we can also install a new one and get your heating system back in working order.
Contact our team to schedule an appointment and take steps to stop the underground tank leaks before they worsen.