How to Remove/Dispose Your Old Oil Tank

Aside from saying goodbye to exorbitantly high heating bills and wrangling oil deliveries over the phone, one of the most satisfying parts of ditching fuel oil is getting rid of the rusty 275-gallon oil tank in your basement. In addition to taking up valuable space and generally being an eyesore, those hulking storage tanks are potential environmental hazards. A leaky tank can wind up causing serious ecological damage and cost you thousands of dollars. Here is what every homeowner looking to upgrade to a cleaner, more efficient, and cost-effective heating system should know about safely disposing of those old, rusted oil storage behemoths lurking in their basements.

Removing Storage Tanks

  1. Contact your local removal contractor
    The first thing a removal contractor will do is extract the reusable oil from your tank using a special explosion-proof pump. If you heat your home with oil, you know how expensive every gallon is, so instead of letting it go to waste, that oil can be filtered and reused. Some contractors will pay you for the oil or reimburse you for it by taking the value of it off of your bill.

  2. Get rid of the oil & sludge
    Over time, rust, water, bacteria, and other refuse will settle into a thick sludge at the bottom of your tank. So after the salvageable oil is sucked out, the next step is cutting open the tank with a metal cutting blade and carefully cleaning out the remaining sludge inside. Sludge is usually scraped out by hand and removed to a sealed drum in buckets. That thick slurry can be recycled for use in heavy industrial capacities.

  3. Detach the pipes from the foundation
    After the oil has been removed and the sludge cleaned out, the next step is to cut the pipes and remove them from the foundation. From there, the oil tank will be either further cut down or carried out whole. 

  4. Discard your oil tank
    No matter how thoroughly the tank has been cleaned, it’s still contaminated and cannot be removed to a standard solid waste station. Qualified contractors know to haul your old storage tank to approved hazardous waste sites where it can be treated and eventually sold for scrap.

Hazards & Costs of Removing Storage Tanks

Underground Storage Tanks
Underground oil tanks or underground storage tanks (USTs) represent a major environmental hazard and must be removed by a certified professional, and depending on where you live, often with direct supervision from the state.

While the cost of excavating an underground storage tank varies depending on the degree of contamination and your local clean-up standards, the EPA estimates that UST removal will run you anywhere from $10,000 to over $1 million, with an average cost of $130,000. Most states require underground storage tanks to be registered and homeowners are required to disclose their presence when selling the house. If you think your home may have one, you should reach out to a professional as soon as possible. The longer underground storage tanks remain buried the more likely they are to leak and the worse, and more expensive, those leaks will become.

Aboveground Storage Tanks
By keeping your fuel oil above the board, homeowners can ostensibly see signs of corrosion or even oil leaks before they become major hazards. Some more modern tanks even come with leak detection systems, UV-resistant coating, and different designs to prevent condensation that can lead to rusting.

A few states and municipalities require registering aboveground storage tanks and enforce regular inspections from a qualified professional to ensure they’re safely sealed. But for the most part, storage tanks with a capacity under 1,100 gallons aren’t regulated and it’s up to the homeowner to make sure there’s no leakage or corrosion. Regardless of the regulation, it’s a good idea to have your oil tanks inspected at least once a year. If you’re already getting your oil furnace serviced annually, it’s easy enough to ask the technician to give your tanks a once-over.

The average cost of removing an aboveground storage tank in New York State is around $2,600. As we’ve pointed out, fuel oil is extremely toxic, not to mention flammable, so removal should be left to the professionals. Storage tank removal should be carried out by a firm that’s permitted to work in your area, and it’s recommended that you make sure they carry pollution liability insurance. Oftentimes, it’s easiest to call your local fire department as they’re usually tasked with issuing permits and can recommend qualified contractors.

The Cleaner Alternative to Replacing Your Oil Tank

Homeowners with compromised or aging tanks looking to stick with fuel oil can wind up spending as much as $3,800 to have a new tank installed! Between that and sky-high heating bills, it’s no wonder why more and more homeowners are making the switch to cleaner, more efficient heating systems like geothermal. Geothermal taps into renewable energy under your lawn to provide heating in the winter and hyper-efficient central AC in the summer. 

Dandelion Geothermal Systems are the most high-performing and energy-efficient HVAC geothermal systems available. In a typical 2,500-square-foot home, homeowners can look forward to a 53% reduction in annual heating & cooling costs and up to a 75% reduction in their home’s CO2 emissions. You can install a Dandelion system with no money down and start seeing big savings from day one.

Make the switch to Geothermal for $0 down financing.

To see if your home qualifies click here:

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