Average Life Span, When to Replace and More
Having a heating oil storage tank on your property offers an important advantage for Wisconsinites, providing an ample supply of heating oil ready for immediate use whenever it’s needed. But there are many misconceptions about oil storage tanks that need to be addressed and cleared up. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about heating oil tanks.
1. How Long Do Heating Oil Tanks Last?
Heating oil tanks can last for decades, but like anything else, they eventually need to be replaced. Life spans vary depending on the humidity in the environment, the thickness of the tank’s wall and other factors. When tanks do fail, it’s hard to see it coming, because they generally erode from the inside out.
If your oil tank is more than 30 years old, it’s a good idea to look into your heating oil tank replacement options.
2. How Do I Know When to Replace My Tank?
Besides getting periodic professional tank inspections, you should also do your own visual inspections because some trouble signs can actually be seen, including:
- dime-sized blisters in the paint, commonly found on the tank’s underside (feel the underside to find them). They can be a sign of pending failure
- pinhole leaks, which are caused by rusting from corrosion inside the tank
- condensation on the outside of the tank, long after a heating oil delivery
- evidence of corrosion on the tank’s exterior
- sagging tank legs
- clogs or restrictions in the fill cap or the vent cap
- signs of spills
3. Why Do Heating Oil Tanks Wear Out?
Besides just wearing out due to age, a heating oil tank can fail because of condensation on the inside. When there is a lot of empty space in an oil tank during the spring and summer, condensation can form along the inside walls. This eventually turns into sediment later, and, if ignored, can result in corrosion.
To avoid condensation from forming, you should keep your oil tank full during the warm-weather months.
4. What Is the Most Common Tank Size?
The most common size for a residential heating oil tank is a 275-gallon aboveground tank. A general industry rule-of-thumb is that one or two-bedroom homes typically require a 275-gallon heating oil tank; three- or four- bedroom homes typically would need to go larger.
5. Where Should I Install My Oil Tank?
Because heating oil is biodegradable and safe to store inside the home, you can put your new leak-proof tank in a basement, closet or garage. You can also put it outside, near your house, garage, or outdoor space.
6. How Do I Read My Oil Tank Gauge?
On top of the heating oil tank is a clear glass or plastic cube that is marked with numbers that resemble the gas gauge of your car: F, ¾, ½, ¼. A red marker or float commonly indicates the amount of fuel left in your tank. If the float is at the bottom of the gauge or not visible at all, your tank is empty or nearly empty.
To make sure the gauge is working, carefully remove the outer case and gently press the float down. If it bobs back up to the original position, the gauge is working. If the gauge is not working, contact your heating oil supplier and let them know. The last thing you want to do is to start guessing how much oil is left in your tank.
7. How Can I Avoid Running Out?
To make winter deliveries easier and stress-free for you, ask your heating oil company if they offer automatic delivery. This allows them to be accurate about your fuel needs so they can make a heating oil delivery and you can continue to feel warm and safe using heating oil at home.
But if you still prefer to call for heating oil, you need to give your supplier extra time when conditions are harsh in order to avoid running out of fuel. It’s best to call for more fuel when your oil tank falls to the one-quarter mark.
If you’re ready to replace your tank, see how you can save money with Wisconsin heating oil equipment rebates.