man showing customer heating oil tank regulations on a piece of paper with an orange heating oil tank in the background

Heating oil tank regulations you should know

At the time of the 2021 census, 865,940 households across England and Wales relied entirely on oil for central heating. The term ‘heating oil’ is often used for kerosene, which your UK home or workplace may routinely use for keeping the property’s occupants comfortably warm. 

However, it is crucial to stay up to date with the latest rules and regulations surrounding the use of heating oil tanks.

Purpose of regulations

If you heat your property with kerosene, the oil will be kept in a tank connected to the central heating system. By getting this tank refilled with heating oil regularly, you can ensure that there is always enough of the liquid available when it is needed.

All the while, however, you must also remain compliant with all relevant rules and regulations about heating oil tank usage. Otherwise, you could be hit with penalties, consume energy inefficiently, or potentially end up posing unnecessary risks to public safety and the environment.

Who is affected?

There are regulations for you to note whether you store heating oil at a home or business. Usually, the person responsible for the property or premises where the tank sits will legally be responsible for making sure this tank is compliant. So, ‘the person’ in this context could be any of the following: 

  • Homeowner 
  • Landlord
  • Business owner
  • Site Manager 

Though there are oil storage regulations specifically for homes, households with tanks that can hold at least 3,501 litres of heating oil must instead follow the regulations for businesses.

Heating oil tank regulations

Installation and replacement

If you are looking to give your property a new or replacement tank, you should arrange for it to be installed by an individual registered with a ‘competent person’ scheme. This installer will be able to self-certify that the work is in line with building regulations.

Though you could still use an installer who isn’t part of a competent person scheme, you would have to ask your local council for a Building Control Notice. You will also need to organise an inspection.

Maintenance and leak prevention

Any heating tank sited at your home should also be visually inspected by a competent person on an annual basis — as well as ideally after bouts of extreme weather that could inflict damage upon the tank. Here are some warning signs of a serious problem with a heating oil tank: 

  • Rusting 
  • Splitting
  • Cracking 
  • Bulging 

In the worst-case scenario, you might need to buy a whole new heating oil tank. Fortunately, we can deliver heating oil tanks of many different capacities to addresses across the UK.

A tradesperson installing your tank can tell you whether it needs ‘secondary containment’, i.e. a ‘bund’ that is impervious to oil and water and capable of holding 110% of the tank’s capacity.

The tank will require a bund if in any of the following locations: 

  • Where oil spills could enter an open drain or a loose manhole cover;
  • Within 10 metres of coastal waters or inland fresh waters, e.g. lakes or streams;
  • Within 50 metres of a drinking water source, e.g. a well, borehole or spring.

Can your tank hold over 2,500 litres of heating oil? In that case, too, you will need a bund.

Environmental protections

What if oil leaks or spills from your home’s tank? Though you should do what you can — if anything — to stop the oil spreading, don’t attempt to clean up that oil spill of your own accord. Instead, you should seek help from the Environment Agency or the company that supplied you with the oil.

Penalties for non-compliance

Anyone who installs the tank in a manner violating the building regulations could be prosecuted and fined.

If the tank is for commercial purposes but breaks environmental law, the Environment Agency could issue an anti-pollution works notice requiring you to make the tank legally compliant.

If oil spills from your tank and consequently pollutes a watercourse, you could be hit with legal action.

Resources for further information

The UK Government website has published in-depth details of heating oil tank regulations for both homes and businesses

Meanwhile, OFTEC — a ‘not for profit’ trade organisation representing the UK’s heating industry — has provided general guidance on domestic liquid fuel storage up to 3,500 litres. Oil Care has advice on dealing with oil spills.If you are interested in finding out more information on heating oil tanks in general, feel free to peruse the QuickTanks Blog. Here, we have shared tips and tricks on various subjects relating to heating oil tanks — from choosing one in the first place to reading a tank’s fuel gauge.

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