The PA Homeowner's Guide to Heating Oil Storage Tanks

While most oil tanks are working well, homeowners will remember any horror stories of any expensive leak cleanups, posing a challenge to our industry. To combat this issue, the Pennsylvania Petroleum Association has created the PA Homeowner's Guide to Heating Oil Storage Tanks. This brochure will help you inform your customers about the safety of today's home heating oil tanks.



Your Clients Will Ask You Questions:
Prepare Yourself to Answer Correctly

Take a look at the information below to prepare yourself for oil heat home inspections. If you can’t find your answer, contact the Eastern Pennsylvania Energy Association or connect with a local dealer. Both resources will be more than happy to help with your questions.


Eco-Friendly Advancements in Fuel Oil

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Aboveground Oil Tank Inspection

Residential oil storage tank guidelines

  • Look for leakage from tank fittings, valves, filters, piping, or the tank gauge; look for weeping (moisture or stains), especially at the bottom of the tank.
  • Inspect for signs of spills around the tank, fill pipe, and tank lines.
  • Make sure the tank is set on concrete, the tank legs are in good condition, and the "belly" of the tank is not touching or close to the ground.
  • Look for signs of external corrosion. An aboveground tank can be painted to address minor corrosion and improve the appearance of the tank.
  • Keep the area around your tank free of any debris, storage boxes, etc.

Underground Oil Tank Inspection

  • Check the fill cap for its presence and satisfactory condition
  • Ensure the fill and vent pipes are tall enough to avoid snow buildup
  • Check the area around the fill pipe for indication of spillage: dead grass or plants
  • Remove the vent pipe cap, verify it is in good condition, and check that a mesh lining is in place
  • Ensure the fill pipe is sound, properly sized, and made of a proper material (not copper or PVC)
  • Make sure the fill pipe terminates at least two feet from any windows or doors to a building
  • The vent pipe should terminate at least two feet higher than the fill pipe and be visible from the fill. It should be at least two feet from any windows or doors, and at least five feet from air inlets or flue gas outlets of any appliances.

Oil Heating System Inspection: Furnace or Boiler

  • Verify the size of the oil line: typically 3/8 or 1/2” OD pipe
  • Ensure the lines are made of an approved material: steel or copper
  • Confirm they are connected with the proper fittings: copper needs flare fittings, while steel needs malleable fittings. Cast iron and compression fittings are not to be used.
  • Locate the working supply line shutoff valve at the wall
  • Check that that buried piping is protected from corrosion by a sleeve
  • Ensure the oil lines are supported and properly connected from the entry point to the burner
  • Verify there are no visible leaks in any part of the system from the entry point to the burner
  • Check for an oil safety valve that is installed to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Verify that there is a properly installed oil filter and that fusible valves are properly located