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Heating Oil Tanks 101

Date: April 19, 2024

How Long Do Oil Tanks Last?

heating oil tanks south carolina Heating oil tanks can last for decades, but like anything else, they eventually need to be replaced. Life spans vary depending on the humidity in the environment, the thickness of the tank’s wall and other factors. When heating oil tanks do fail, it’s hard to see trouble coming, because they generally erode from the inside out.

If your oil tank is more than 30 years old, it’s a good idea to check into your replacement options.

Why Do Heating Oil Tanks Wear Out?

Besides just wearing out due to age, a heating oil tank can fail because of condensation on the inside. When there is a lot of empty space in an oil tank during the spring and summer, condensation can form along the inside walls. This eventually turns into sediment later, and, if ignored, can result in corrosion.

To avoid condensation from forming, you should keep your oil tank full during the warm-weather months.

The Importance of Heating Oil Tank Inspections

As with a water heater, it can be hard to see when a heating oil tank is failing, because it usually corrodes from the inside out.

That’s why it’s a good idea to get regular, professional tank inspections done on your oil tank. You should also do your own visual inspections periodically, because there are some trouble signs that can be seen, including:

  • dime-sized blisters in the paint, commonly found on the tank’s underside (feel the underside to find them). They can be a sign of pending failure.
  • pinhole leaks, which are caused by rusting from corrosion inside the tank.
  • condensation on the outside of the tank, long after a heating oil delivery.

Other warning signs that your tank may need to be replaced include:

  • evidence of corrosion
  • sagging tank legs
  • clogs or restrictions in the fill cap or the vent cap
  • signs of spills

If you notice any trouble signs with your heating-oil storage tank, you should reach out to your local South Carolina heating oil company for help and advice.

Heating Oil Storage Tanks Have Improved

Beyond vast improvements in fuel quality, you should know that there have been technological advances in heating oil equipment, including heating oil tanks.
Designed now with corrosion-resistant materials, today’s heating oil tanks can last for decades. Plus, new technology allows for remote monitoring to protect against the rare event of a leak.

One of the most important improvements has been double-walled construction with an outside layer of corrosion-proof galvanized steel. This keeps the chance of a costly leak to a minimum. Other innovations include:

  • leak-detection systems.
  • long-term warranties
  • sleek designs that allow the tank to fit into smaller spaces.

What Is the Most Common Oil Tank Size?

The most common size for a residential heating oil tank is a 275-gallon aboveground tank. A general industry rule-of-thumb is that one or two-bedroom homes typically require a 275-gallon heating oil tank; three- or four- bedroom homes typically would need to go larger.

How Can I Avoid Running Out of Oil?

To make heating oil deliveries easier and stress-free for you, ask your heating oil company if they offer automatic delivery. This allows them to be correct about your fuel needs so they can make a heating oil delivery and you can continue to feel warm and safe using heating oil at home.

But if you still prefer to call for heating oil, you need to give your supplier extra time when conditions are harsh to avoid running out of fuel. It’s best to call for more fuel when your heating oil tank falls to the one-quarter mark.

Where Should I Install My New Oil Tank?

Because heating oil is biodegradable and safe to store inside the home, you can put your new leak-proof tank in a basement, closet, or garage. You can also put it outside, near your house, garage, or outdoor space.

If you’re ready for a new heating oil tank replacement, reach out to your local South Carolina heating oil company. They’ll be happy to tell you about current state rebates and other incentives that can save you money on your new heating oil tank.