This winter, your heating oil tank is at more of a risk than at any other time of the year. Cold snaps can result in changes to the properties of the plastic from which your tank is made. The result, particularly of you have an older, or single skin tank, can be a catastrophic split and/or fuel spill.
Your home insurer may not, and is highly likely not to cover a tank split or subsequent oil spill, as part of your policy, hence the potential for incurring clean-up costs totalling tens of thousands of pounds if you are one of the unlucky few. It is for this reason that oil tank maintenance is of paramount importance.
Oil tank splits result in pollution and high associated costs, which can be avoided, as can the costs of a split to the homeowner, which can often entail bills of up to £50,000 in clean-up costs, by checking and maintaining your oil tank appropriately - particularly in early Autumn months, as cold weather snaps are one of the most common contributors of environmental spills.
So, as winter approaches, here are five key pointers for maintaining an oil tank in tip-top shape:
- Get to know your heating oil tank. In order to obtain fast and accurate advice, should you need to, it is important to keep information on your tank close to hand. Create a document containing your tank manufacturer details, particularly a telephone number, along with the tank name, age, capacity, warranty information and any tank care instructions. As part of this process, you should label all of the important components and accessories of your tank, such as the fill point, valves and pipes.
- Ensure that you have an accurate and easily readable tank gauge. Such gauges come in a variety of options, from older style sight gauges, to basic electronic gauges and more advanced 'smart' gauges, which can provide you with information on oil levels, but which can also provide alerts in the event of sudden oil level changes within your tank. If your oil tank has been supplied with a dip stick as the only method of measuring oil levels, invest in a more sophisticated system, which could potentially save you thousands of pounds in the future.
- Ensure that you have a bunded tank, which consist of a 'tank within a tank' design, meaning the outer can hold approximately 110% of the inner's liquid volume. This means that if the inner splits, the outer will catch and therefore protect your valuable heating oil, whilst also preventing a hazardous oil spill.
- Purchase a Bund Warning Alarm. This simple and easy to use advice, lets you know when the inner bund on your bunded oil tank has leaked. The bund detector sits between the inner and outer tanks and ensures that homeowners can arrange a convenient and timely solution to an inner tank split, before pollution or oil loss occurs.
- Check your tank skin regularly. At least once a month, inspect your tank for cracks, however minor. Pay special attention to common stress points. These points are most likely to be the corners around the bottom, as this is where most weight and pressure is applied when the tank is full. Should you notice a crack, do not attempt to repair it yourself. Notify a qualified technician, who will be able to advise you on the best course of action. Remember, tank maintenance is a specialist skill and should not be carried out as part of day-to-day D.I.Y. You can find an accredited installer and technician on the Tankmark website, which lists the UK's largest network of oil tank technicians, many of whom can conduct a free site inspection.
All of the above points are simple guides by which you can protect yourself from the nasty consequences of an oil tank failure. This aspect of household maintenance is often forgotten, due to the specialist nature of tank installations, however, regular tank checks along with obtaining up to date information on regulations and new oil tank products can prevent the worst from happening your oil tank.