Another Gulf Oil Spill in the Making?

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

That title might be a slight exaggeration. Okay a big exaggeration, but I wanted to get your attention. For those individuals who have or had an oil heating system, you are undoubtedly familiar with the tank where the oil for your furnace is kept. Some are inside the house some are on the exterior and some are under the ground. Just like anything oil tanks wear out. What happens when an oil tank wears out? It springs a leak. When that happens other little gushers are sure soon to follow. So what's the solution to a leaking oil tank?

Simple call BP and have them fix it.

No, just kidding. Who has the time to wait while they find Kevin Costner for a solution to the oil leak that is now filling up your basement?

patched oil tankOne nasty attribute of heating oil is it stinks something fierce. In fact it's noxious in large amounts. I was personally sickened once in a home that had experienced a bad oil tank leak that had not been properly clean up. So when I when say you don't want this stuff flowing through your basement, I speak from bad experience.

So when that tank pops a leak what happens? Someone puts a patch on it. It's the same as a band aid except the wound never heals. In fact it's a pretty sure thing it's going to unheal and start peeing out some where else on the tank.

In my world the patch should be used in the interim until a new tank can be brought in to replace the newly forming piece of Swiss cheese that was your old oil tank. But alas in the real world band aids are disguised as permanent fixes.



James Quarello
2010 SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.


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Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Doesn't take long to smell a leaking fuel oil tank.   Heating oil has a distinct smell.  You can't store it on the basement floor either.

Sep 28, 2010 12:41 PM #1
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


We have lots of old oil tanks around here and some are still in use out in the county but mainly we see natural gas and propane.

Sep 28, 2010 01:19 PM #2
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, it is hard to imagine adequately patching an oil tank----just replace the dang thing-----they aren't that expensive.

Sep 28, 2010 01:57 PM #3
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

I think I've seen a total of about a dozen oil tanks, ever.  You're right, that stuff stinks - it seems to stink up the whole basement.

Sep 28, 2010 02:29 PM #4
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Same thing happened to me once Jim.  Vacant house and a bad oil tank.  We were all in the house for the inspection and after only about 1/2 hour we were all queazy.

Well, at least they're filtering the oil coming out from that patched spot.  Good for them...





Sep 28, 2010 10:36 PM #5
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Jack, Many homes I go in you can smell the  oil in the basement.

Steve, Oil is very common here in CT.

Charlie, My thoughts exactly.

Reuben, I used to think oil was better than gas, not any more. For one gas appliances are so much more efficient and clean.

Jay, Oil is nasty, stinky stuff.

Sep 29, 2010 12:06 AM #6
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James Quarello

Connecticut Home Inspector
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