How to protect and maintain your heating oil tank

If you rely on heating oil to power your boiler, the last thing you want to have to deal with is a leaky tank. Spillages can be difficult and expensive to clean up, and there’s also a risk that they will harm the environment, especially if the oil runs into a river or stream.

The good news is, there are some simple steps you can take to ensure this doesn’t happen. Keep reading to find out how to protect and maintain your tank. 

Make sure it’s installed correctly in the first place

Your first priority should be to make sure that when you’re getting a new tank installed, this is done according to industry best practice. Making the effort to get this right could save you the hassle and expense further down the line. As it states on the website of specialist supplier, it’s important to ensure that your new tank is situated on a solid base and is free of plants. It should also be away from watercourses, and if possible, sheltered from strong winds and falling debris. It’s wise to shield your tank from the road too. This will reduce the risk of opportunistic thieves targeting it to steal oil. 

Make sure you choose an industry registered tank installation engineer to do the job.  

Get it checked on a regular basis

It’s recommended to have oil tanks checked over by an engineer at least once a year, and one of the easiest ways to remember to do this is to include it in your annual boiler service. However, bear in mind that some tank manufacturers advise six-monthly checks. If you’re not sure how frequently your tank should be examined, just refer to your manual. This will have all the information you need.

If your tank looks to be in good condition, such regular checks might seem over the top, but in fact, this is one of the most important aspects of tank maintenance. It means that any problems will be picked up quickly, making them easier and cheaper to deal with than if they were left to get worse.

Keep a lookout for potential problems yourself

Between these checks, you should keep a lookout for possible problems yourself. For example, you can watch out for dents, cracks, bulges or scratches that may appear in the container. Pay attention to any discolouration or rust too. For example, if you have a plastic tank and you notice that the colour has faded, this is a sign it has been bleached by the sun. In turn, this can mean the plastic is more brittle and prone to breakage. Or, if you have a metal tank and you spot coppery rust, these areas may be weak spots, so get them checked out.

Watch out for any signs of leaking oil too. This is most likely to happen around pipes, valves and seams, so pay particular attention to these areas. If it’s a small leak get on and start fixing it before it gets any worse.

If your tank is bunded (has an outer case that surrounds the internal tank), make sure this protective layer is free of plants, water and oil too. Also, keep any access points, gauges and vents closed and shielded from dirt, insects and rainwater.

If anything gives you cause for concern, don’t hesitate to get a registered heating engineer to take a look. It’s better to be over-cautious than to take risks.

Don’t over-fill

You might be tempted to fit as much oil as possible into your tank at each refill. However, this isn’t a good idea if you’re trying to prolong the lifespan of your tank. It’s recommended to only fill this vessel to around 80 to 90 per cent of its capacity so that you don’t cause unnecessary strain and damage.

It’s important to have a functioning overfill protection alarm or device in place to prevent this problem from arising.

 By looking after your tank in these ways, you can ensure you get a long service life from it.

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