DEP Reminds Pennsylvanians to Maintain Home Heating Oil Tanks

HARRISBURG – The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) encourages residents to take precautions before filling their home heating oil tanks. Poorly maintained or leaking home heating oil tanks can pose a fire risk, diminish indoor air quality, or contaminate groundwater.

One in five Pennsylvania homes uses heating oil to stay warm in the winter. Owners of home heating oil tanks should consider inspecting indoor and outdoor home heating oil tanks for potential problems prior to refilling them. Preventing leaks will save owners energy and money, in addition to protecting owners’ health.

Cleaning up a spill caused by a heating oil tank can cost up to $50,000 and may not be covered by homeowner’s insurance. Homeowners can check with their insurance provider to see whether coverage is available.

DEP encourages homeowners to consider these tips:

  • For safety reasons, always assume the tank contains at least some oil;
  • Routinely inspect the exterior of the tank and all attached equipment;
  • Check for signs of rusting on the tank and its structural supports;
  • Examine the tank’s fill line and feed line to the furnace for leaks;
  • Never tip over or empty a tank onto the ground;
  • Enlist a professional to perform maintenance or alterations to a heating oil tank system; and
  • Recognize that wet spots or odors near the tank may signal a problem.

When fuel is delivered, make certain that the home address is clearly visible and the tank’s fill line is clearly marked. If a resident cannot be home when fuel oil is delivered, mark the fill pipe with a red flag or marker and inform the oil company of the location. Ensure that any disconnected fill pipes are permanently sealed and cannot be opened.

Residents who think their oil tank may have a problem should immediately contact their oil company for help.

For more information about maintaining a home heating oil tank, click here or call DEP’s Division of Storage Tanks at 717-772-5599.

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