July 15, 2018

Why we inspect your oil tank before we fill it

Many homeowners and business owners understand the importance of having a home or building inspection before purchasing a property or the importance of a yearly inspection of their heating, venting, and air conditioning system, but they don’t realize the importance of having their heating oil tank inspected. While the property owner typically owns the tanks, they almost never think about them unless they start to leak (and gallons and gallons of oil have seeped out), or they put their home or business up for sale.

You’ve probably noticed that at Baribault Fuel, we take safety seriously. For any new customers, we inspect your tank prior to putting any oil into it. Regardless if it’s brand new, 5 years old, or 15 years old, it can fail at any time, and it’s important to make sure it’s reliable prior to pumping it full of hundreds of gallons of fuel. But we also inspect it on a routine basis, even if you don’t realize it!

The National Oilheat Research Alliance (NORA), developed several inspection procedures that provide fuel suppliers, like Baribault, with guidelines on inspections and what to look for BEFORE a leak happens.

Our drivers and service technicians are trained to handle 3 different types of inspections:

Initial inspection – done the first time we deliver fuel to your home or business to make sure your tank is in the proper condition.  If the tank is buried, we check:

  • the fill and vent pipe sizes, clearances and locations
  • if there is water inside
  • any code violations
  • evidence of previous spills
  • the oil lines, filters, fusible valves, burner connections, etc.

If the tank is above ground, we check:

  • Tank location and clearances
  • Fill and vent piping, vent alarm, code violations, historic spills
  • Unused openings properly plugged
  • Presence of water inside
  • Proper tank foundation
  • Evidence of leaks – weeping, etc.
  • Oil lines, filters, fusible valves, burner connections, etc.

Based on all the components above, our technician can determine if your tank is acceptable for delivery or requires repairs or replacement.

Routine Inspection –  Once your tank has received the all-clear for oil delivery, we make sure we to add it to our yearly routine service checklist While the routine inspection might not be as extensive as the initial inspection, our drivers and service techs are trained to look for anything that has changed since the last inspection took place. For buried tanks, that typically includes:

  • Checking fill and vent pipes and caps
  • Checking for water inside
  • Looking for evidence of oil spills
  • Checking the oil lines, filters, fusible valves, burner connections, etc.

If the tank is above ground, we look for

  • Tank leaks
  • Fill and vent pipes and caps
  • Presence of water inside
  • Proper tank foundation
  • Oil lines, filters, fusible valves, burner connections, etc.

If there are no issues, your tank will continue to be acceptable for deliveries. Any new issues will need to be addressed right away for repairs or replacement.

Pre-delivery Inspection – This is a very brief inspection, and the focus is on making sure the driver is at the right location. The driver will review the following:

  • Verify address
  • Verify tank location (If it’s not where you were told, maybe it’s not the right tank)
  • Check exposed fill and vent pipes and caps
  • Look for evidence of oil spills

Homeowners can also take proactive steps to keeping their oil tank in proper order. Doing your own visual inspection to make sure there is no oil seepage is a great first step. You can also track your oil usage and notify your supplier of any unusual and unexpected spikes in usage that may indicate a leak. Not only will you be preventing oil from harming the environment, but you’ll be saving yourself a lot of trouble and money –  the average cleanup cost for spills from home heating oil tanks ranges from $10,000 to $50,000 and is seldom covered by homeowner’s insurance.

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