Heating oil – storage advice
Throughout the district, there are many communities where domestic heating is fuelled by oil.
There have been an increasing number of pollution incidents caused by faulty or badly maintained domestic central heating oil tanks. Leaked oil can be very difficult and expensive to clean up.
In some circumstances houses have had to be evacuated because oil soaked into the ground close to the houses and produced fumes inside, making it impossible to live in the properties.
Regular checks and maintenance on your central heating oil tank and oil supply pipes may avoid the problems of a leak. If you cannot do it yourself, employ a competent person. The cost of a service will be considerably less than the cost of fixing a leak.
- If your tank is not bunded, consider building one. A bund is a collection trough which sits under the oil tank. In the event of the tank leaking, all the oil will be retained within this leak proof trough. The bund should have the capacity to hold at least 10% more than the capacity of the tank (as it can collect rainwater over time). Bunds can be built of brick, concrete or other watertight material. From time to time you may need to empty rainwater out of it, but do not be tempted to fit a drain hole, unless fitted with a tap which can be securely closed. Some designs of tank actually incorporate a bund. The tank has a second skin which acts a safety net if the tank leaks. It is now a legal requirement for most commercial and larger tanks (more than 3,500 litres) to be fitted with a bund. Although not a legal requirement for domestic tanks to be bunded, we would strongly recommend bunding in all cases.
- Check the condition of your tank regularly. If it is a metal tank, ensure it is painted regularly to avoid the metal corroding.
- If possible, supervise any deliveries of oil. Make sure you do not order more oil than you can fit in your tank.
- Monitor and become familiar with your normal usage rate of oil. If consumption appears to go up, check for leaks immediately. There have been instances where people have re-filled a leaking oil tank without checking when their last delivery was, doubling the amount of oil lost into the ground without realising. The more oil lost, the more difficult and expensive the clean up.
- Have a thorough regular maintenance check carried out by a competent person on your whole system, not just the boiler.
- Keep fill points on the tank clear of obstructions and ensure they are tamper proof.
- Be aware of black staining on tank supports or bases, this may indicate a leak.
- Be aware of any oily smells. This may indicate a leak.
Please contact the council for advice on cleaning up any contaminated ground.
The leaflet on this page provides more detailed information about what to do if your oil tank leaks.