It is common for older homes in New Jersey and other states to have underground fuel storage tanks on the property. Many of these tanks are in place even if they are no longer in use. If you’re shopping for a house, an underground oil tank on the property may pose a risk if it hasn’t been properly decommissioned.
Usually, the only way to find out if a property has an underground tank is to have a trained professional perform a fuel storage tank search. In some cases, however, there may be visible signs that an oil tank is buried. These signs might include:
- A vent cap or fill valve sticking out of the ground
- Oil lines coming out of the basement
- Stains visible near the furnace
If you are purchasing a new home, ask the sellers agent or current homeowner for information about fuel storage tanks on the property. If you find out that an underground oil tank is present, find out if and how it was decommissioned.
Decommissioning an Unused Tank
If the underground oil tank is no longer in use, it should be decommissioned. There are a couple of ways to safely close a tank.
- Remove the tank from the property. This is the recommended method, though more expensive than leaving it in place.
- Empty, clean, and fill the tank with concrete or other material to prevent collapse.
If an oil tank has been decommissioned properly, having an underground fuel tank is relatively risk-free, though some lenders will not finance a home with an underground tank. A home inspector who specializes in oil tank location can help you determine the status of the tank.
An Active Underground Oil Tank
There are some liabilities that come along with a home that is heated from oil stored in an underground tank. Fuel leaks are a serious problem that damages property and contaminates the soil. A leak will affect the resale value of the property and can result in fines. Oil tank insurance is available in some states, but the safest option is to remove the tank and establish a different heating source for the home.