“A quarter of all Pennsylvania homes use heating oil to stay warm in the winter,” DEP Secretary Mike Krancer said. “It is very important that these homeowners maintain and inspect their oil tanks to ensure they are safe and function properly; and at the same time, they will benefit by saving energy and money this winter.”
Leaking heating oil could cause indoor air problems and potentially contaminate groundwater and private drinking water wells. A spill cleanup may cost up to $50,000 and may not be covered by homeowner’s insurance. Residents who think their oil tank may have a problem should immediately contact their oil company for help.
DEP encourages homeowners to consider these tips:
• For safety reasons, always assume the tank contains at least some oil;
• Routinely inspect the exterior of the tank and all attached equipment;
• Check for signs of rusting on the tank and its structural supports;
• Examine the tank’s fill line and feed line to the furnace for leaks;
• Never tip over or empty a tank on the ground;
• Enlist a professional to perform maintenance or alterations to a heating oil tank system;
• Recognize that wet spots or odors near the tank may signal a problem.
For fuel delivery, make certain that the home address is clearly visible and the tank’s fill line clearly marked. If a resident cannot be home when fuel oil is delivered, clearly mark the fill pipe with a red flag or marker and inform the oil company of the location. Ensure that any disconnected fill pipes that remain above the ground are permanently sealed and cannot be opened.
While heating oil prices have come down since last year, residents are urged to avoid needlessly losing fuel and to protect the investment they have made to keep themselves warm.
For more information and to download a free fact sheet, “Tips for Residential Heating Oil Tank Owners,” visit www.dep.state.pa.us, keyword: Storage Tanks, or call the agency’s Division of Storage Tanks at 717-772-5599.