Guide to oil tanks – when to replace and the regulations
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
Your duties as an oil tank owner
When your oil boiler is serviced or you are arranging a replacement boiler, the attending engineer will carry out an inspection of the oil tank. The engineer must notify you of any defects and non-compliances and make recommendations for rectifying. For example, the body of the tank is in poor condition/rusting, the tank is located too close to a shed or it is not bunded and next to a drain. The most immediate and common problems are:
- Leaks from a deteriorating tank or oil line that will require environmental clean-up;
- Water ingress into the tank. Water in the oil can transfer dirt from the tank into the boiler. It can also freeze in cold weather and block the line.
Unlike Gas Safe regulations, you are not at risk of being cut off due to a defective tank nor are you required to make the tank compliant with current standards when replacing the boiler. In extreme cases the attending engineer may refuse to change the boiler without the changing the tank, but Oftec do have not powers to force you and you may find another Oftec engineer who will.
However, anyone who stores heating oil has a duty to ensure that the substance will not release into the environment. As an oil tank owner, you are directly responsible for the clean-up costs of any spills that occur and any consequential damage.
Oil tanks and spills are covered under your home insurance but the terms can be quite limited. Home insurers will cover loss of metered oil due to theft or accident, but not due to wear and tear or gradual leaks. Clean up costs for oil spills are only covered in very limited circumstances and again not for gradual leaks. In all cases you are required to keep the tank in good repair and declare any problems at the outset.
For more a comprehensive cover it is best to take out a specialist Oil Spill policy. This scope for claims is much wider but the insurer will require an annual inspection of the tank by an Oftec engineer and that any recommended works are carried out within 60 days – see our Guide to domestic heating oil spills and insurance.
If you are advised to replace your tank because your boiler is at risk of irrevocable damage or the tank is in such poor condition a leak is imminent, then the costs of preventative works in the short term will be much less than the cost of the damage caused as a consequence of not replacing. If the cost is too much, you might want to consider using a supplier that offers stage payments for a new tank as part of their oil supply services (see below).