Oil Tank Care

Without proper insurance, if your oil tank spills or leaks you could be 100% responsible for cleanup costs – which average $250,000 to $500,000 but can be even more. As a property owner, you are responsible for the year-round maintenance of this potential environmental hazard.

Oil is used for home heating in some regions in Canada. For example, 42% of homes in Atlantic Canada have an oil tank.

1 Litre of Leaked Oil Can Contaminate 1 Million Litres of Water

Leaks and spills from a home oil tank are dangerous and costly. After an oil tank spill, the average cost for cleanup is $250,000 to more than $500,000 and includes:

  • Replacing the tank and supply lines
  • Removing contaminated soil from around your home
  • Replacing your home's foundation.

If oil spills or leaks on your property, you could be responsible for all costs unless you have the proper insurance. As a property owner, you – not the oil company – are responsible for maintaining the oil tank.

Oil Tanks and Your Home Insurance

Typically, a home insurance policy does not cover the loss or damage to your property resulting from an oil spill. However, the liability coverage provided by your home insurance policy may cover, up to the purchased monetary limit, the liability you incur when an unintentional oil spill on your property contaminates a neighbour's property. Intentional acts are not covered under home insurance liability coverage.

What To Consider When Buying an Oil Tank

Home oil tanks hold about 1,000 litres and are available with plastic liners to help reduce internal corrosion and with valves for draining water.

A tank's lifespan depends on its location and exposure to the elements, the grade of fuel used and maintenance. NEVER buy a used tank. When buying a tank, look for:

4 Tips for Installing an Oil Tank

Ask your supplier about a certified installer for your new oil tank. Never transfer oil from an old to a new tank – it could contaminate the new tank with water-laden sludge. Your tank should be installed:

  1. At least 15 metres (50 feet) from a well
  2. On non-combustible footing, such as a concrete slab or patio stones
  3. Where it can be easily inspected
  4. Away from a wall to help prevent it from rusting.

5 Maintenance Tips

  1. Regularly inspect your tank for signs of corrosion, such as rust or shifting.
  2. Ask your oil distributor to do a visual inspection of your tank if you are uncertain about its age or condition.
  3. Protect your tank lines from foot traffic.
  4. Make sure your tank, lines and connections – and the area around them – are kept clear of snow and ice. Your fuel oil company may provide shielding devices.
  5. Keep your roof clear of snow and ice that could fall on your tank.