In most cases, an oil tank will last between 15 and 20 years. While that range is a helpful benchmark, every homeowner will treat their tank differently. Those who pay close attention to their tank’s maintenance may enjoy a longer lifespan. Conversely, tanks that sit without care may run into issues sooner, rather than later. 

Stay ahead of untimely breakdowns by observing your tank’s condition often. This is especially important if cold winter nights are around the corner — you don’t want to get stuck without heat.

Signs That Your Oil Tank Needs to Be Maintained or Replaced 

From rust on the tank to broken parts reducing your tank’s operational efficiency, there are several telling signs that your tank needs attention. Depending on the extent of the damage, you will need to either call in a professional for service, or potentially replace your tank altogether.

  • The body of your tank: Look for corrosion on the exterior of your tank, which indicates that your tank isn’t operating as efficiently as possible, or that there may be leaks coming soon (if they haven’t shown already).
  • Faulty installation: If the legs of your tank appear uneven, or the foundation your tank sits has a crack, it could indicate your tank isn’t functioning at full capacity.
  • Poor placement: Exposure to frosty elements, vegetation or debris can stifle your tank’s efficiency, and also create excess sediment inside the tank.
  • Fuel gauge: If your fuel gauge is stuck or broken, you risk overfilling your tank, or running out of fuel abruptly.
  • Oil issues: Unprotected oil lines can create inefficiencies in your system, or worse, leaks.
  • Vent pipes are clogged: When vent pipes are clogged, you may get an inaccurate reading of how much fuel is in your tank.

If you suspect your vent pipes are clogged, here is a helpful video teaching how to clear the blockage:

 

 

How to Extend the Life of Your Oil Tank 

The primary reason your oil tank will breakdown is corrosion. Corrosion usually starts from the inside of your tank. For that reason, it’s especially important to pay attention to the moisture and sediment that can creep inside the tank. Decrease the risk of corrosion with a few simple tricks.

  • Use rust-proof paint. Use rust-proof paint on the body of the tank as well as the legs and foundation to protect from premature corrosion.
  • Keep vegetation away from your tank. Added moisture that drops from vegetation may accelerate corrosion on your tank. Keep the area around your tank clear of any obstructions. 
  • Add tank stability brackets and fill gauge protectors. This can decrease the risk of weather-related damage on components of your oil tank.
  • Manage the integrity of your tank’s support. Look for bent legs on your tank or cracks in your foundation. If the foundation or support of your tank falters, the tank could fall, which will likely create damage or danger to your property.
  • Routinely test performance. Check flow rates and look for blockages throughout your entire heating system, not just the oil tank.
  • Fill your tank in cool weather. Warm weather will create temperature fluctuations, which can moisture inside your oil tank, creating sediment and corrosion. Fill your tank in the springtime for the best results. 
  • Install a vent alarm. An alarm will signal if your tank is full. This minimizes the chance of overfilling in the event your vent pipes have a block, or if your fuel gauge is broken. 

Replacement vs. repair: what does your oil tank need?

Corrosion is the primary sign that your tank needs an update, and repairs won’t always do the trick. The more severe the rust and leaks, the more urgent the replacement is.

Determining when is the right time to replace your oil tank will come down to:

  • The age of your tank
  • The type of tank you own
  • How well you’ve taken care of your tank
  • The number of repairs your tank has already had
  • If your tank is badly leaking

If you’re not sure what the condition of your tank is, it’s best to call in a professional

Routine annual inspections allow technicians to look at your tank with ultrasound equipment. This practice means we can spot corrosion inside your tank and determine its health. 

How much does it cost to replace an oil tank?

The average cost of replacing an oil tank is $1,882. You will notice differences in price as you shop around, but the less expensive the oil tank, the more trouble you could have in the long-term.

Inexpensive oil tanks may only have a single-wall. Without double-wall protection, your tank is more likely to collect water at the bottom, which will accelerate the corrosion of your tank. By adding a double-wall, you’ll expect to pay between $500 and $600 more, but you will have added protection from untimely (and costly) issues with your tank.

Additionally, avoid tanks that have been refurbished or resold. If the tank was pulled out of service, it’s probably due to damage, inefficiency leaks, or age. Though you might save a few dollars on a used tank initially, the expenses and lackluster lifetime will end up costing you more in the long-run. 

Note about the installation process: The cost to install a new oil tank ranges from $800 to $3,800 to install a 220 to 330-gallon oil tank. The price will vary based on the foundation you need to lay. Concrete floors and slabs do not need a base or pad. The less manual work needed to install your tank, and the easier it is to connect your tank to a fuel source, the less you can expect to pay. 

Work with a professional to calculate the actual cost to replace your oil tank, based on your needs and situation.

Can you replace your oil tank yourself?  

Is an oil tank replacement a DIY project, or do you need to call in the professionals?

Consider the amount of manual effort that goes into replacing an oil tank. To start, you need to dispose of the existing oil, sludge, and the actual oil tank in an environmentally friendly way that is also compliant with your state’s law. Disposing of your old tank can be both a hassle and expensive if you don’t have the proper tools or understanding of how to get rid of your fuel.

Similarly, to install a new oil tank, you may need equipment like a truck, backhoe, or other materials to help you throughout the process. The cost to rent the equipment can add up, and the knowledge required to operate the equipment isn’t for the novice contractor. 

If you’re unsure what the requirements for disposal are, or if you lack the equipment to help you remove or install your tank safely, it’s best to call in the experts. 

 

Need help replacing or repairing your oil tank?

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