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How to dispose of an old heating oil tank

So, the time has come when you need to replace your heating oil tank, but what does that mean for your old one? One of the most common questions we get asked at QuickTanks is ‘How do I dispose of my old heating oil tank?’ Well, you’re in luck, we’ve put together the key points you need to know to ensure you dispose of an old heating oil tank safely and efficiently.

How do I know when I should replace my heating oil tank?

Therefore, you should keep a close eye on the condition of your oil tank and remove and replace it when you spot problems. The main things to look out for are:

  • Cracks or holes in the casing – This can indicate weaknesses that could lead to leaks.
  • Dents, bulges or scratches – Especially around valves, pipes and seams.
  • Signs of a leak – If you think you spot oil leaking from your tank, take action immediately.
  • Discolouration – Plastic tanks can bleach in the sun, meaning their colour starts to fade. When this happens, the plastic becomes more brittle and prone to breaking.
  • Rust – The discolouration and erosion of metal tanks can also be a cause for concern. If these containers start to rust, areas of weakness can develop.

How to dispose of an old oil tank

If you’re getting rid of your old tank, an engineer will either take it away whole or, if it is too big to do this, cut it up and remove it in sections. The engineer should then take the materials to a recycling centre. Whether tanks are plastic or metal, they can be recycled as long as they are empty and have been cleaned.

Can I remove and dispose of an old oil tank myself?

The answer to this question is no, you can’t, and please do not attempt to do so. An old oil storage tank must be removed and disposed of according to existing Building Regulations.

An OFTEC-registered engineer will perform an assessment to decommission, remove and dispose of the old oil tank, identifying any fire or environmental risks associated with the process. For example:

  • The transfer of leftover oil to a holding tank and pumping the contaminated oil on the bottom of the tank to an oil waste container ready for disposal
  • Disposing of the contaminated oil under licence and specific regulations
  • Disconnecting the old tank safely from all pipework and from the base on which it sits
  • Cleaning and degassing the old tank before testing and confirming it is gas-free, and issuing a certificate accordingly
  • Removing or cutting up the old tank safely by qualified engineers and subsequently recycling the old materials
  • Issuing a Waste Transfer Notice regarding the removal of hazardous material
  • Informing building control of the work carried out and certifying that it has been done according to Building Regulations.

In most cases, an old oil storage tank is removed to make way for a new heating oil tank and the same engineers will usually install the new tank as part of the contract. They will also be able to advise you which type of oil tank will be most suitable for your property, such as a plastic or metal tank, bunded (double-skinned) or single-skinned, and where it should be located in accordance with OFTEC’s regulations.

How to choose and install a new oil tank

If you’re getting a new heating oil tank to replace your old one, it’s important to choose wisely. Getting a high-quality tank will help ensure you get many years of trouble-free use from it.

You can order tanks in varying sizes to suit your property and should always purchase a bunded tank to adhere to current oil tank regulations. A bund is a popular safety feature that acts as a secondary containment system, by preventing any fuel that may leak from the tank from escaping into the environment.

For added convenience, you could choose a tank that comes with a pre-installed fuel monitor that allows you to keep track of your oil usage more easily. Using an oil tank gauge can also help you detect any fuel leaks more quickly.

Whichever tank you decide to go for, it’s really important to get it installed correctly. To do this, make sure you use an OFTEC-registered tank installation engineer. They will ensure that the tank is placed in a suitable location and is connected properly and securely. Getting this right now could save you unnecessary hassle and expense further down the line.

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