Pottstown Home Inspector: Oil Tank Scam

Home Inspector with Reading, Pottstown, Norristown, Philadelphia



Pottstown Home Inspector: Oil Tank Scam


In addition to being a Pottstown Home Inspector, I'm also a landlord in the Pottstown and Reading areas.  I came across a little scam recently that has to do with oil tank gauges and I wanted to pass along this information to all the landlords and homebuyers out there. 

Some of you might have read an earlier post I made It's no April Fool's Joke- Tenants moved!  In thismoving truck blog, I mentioned that our problematic tenants were finally moving... and it seemed too good to be true.  When the tenant (we'll call him "Dan") told us he was moving on April 1st, we found it quite comical that he picked April Fool's Day for this special event and wondered what was in store for us.



man going crazy

It's a long story with this tenant and we can't possibly paint the complete picture in this one blog.  Let's just say we were prepared to lose a few thousand dollars to evict him, but things got complicated with the courts and we found ourselves prisoner to this tenant for 4 years.  When he told us he was leaving, we were ready to throw a celebration!




My wife had mentioned to Dan that he would get his security deposit back in full as long as he left the oil tankunit in good condition and filled the oil tank before moving out since it was full when he moved in.  When we showed up for the move-out inspection on April 1st, he told us that the oil tank was just over 3/4 full and no company would deliver less than 100 gallons.  We could see the unit looked to be in pretty good shape and we were so happy he was leaving that we told Dan we'd accept the oil tank as 3/4 full.  What's the cost of 1/4 tank when we were prepared to lose a few month's rent to get rid of him?  Not much!


Dan seemed very anxious about getting his security deposit on the spot, but we still had to confirm the final water bill and make sure the other utilities had been paid in full.  We told him he'd get his security deposit mailed to him in a week or two. 


oil tank gauge



Well, it turns out the oil tank wasn't 3/4 full afterall.  It was empty!  The oil gauge read just over 3/4 full, but we soon found out he had pulled a little known oil tank scam.  




Our plumber was at the home unclogging the drain lines and we had him check the oil tank because we were thinking of moving it to expand the bathroom.  Upon checking the tank, he went to remove the oil gauge and saw that someone had wired it!  That's right- someone put a pin inside the gauge tube to hold the gauge up, giving a false reading.  When the plumber unscrewed the gauge tube, the pin fell out and the gauge fell down to the actual level- empty!!!  For final confirmation, he measured the oil in the tank at 6 inches.  I guess they were playing an April Fool's joke on us afterall!

Needless to say, the security deposit wasn't returned to him.   We'll be checking those oil gauges from now on!



david on roof


David Artigliere with ARTI Home Inspections LLC is a ASHI Certified Home inspector in Pottstown, PA & surrounding areas.  Visit his website at pottstownhomeinspector.com for more information or call (610) 220-1907.

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david the home inspectorDavid Artigliere, owner of ARTI Home Inspections LLC, is a home inspector in Pottstown, Reading, Norristown, Royersford and surrounding areas. 

He is available 7 days a week and can be reached at 610-220-1907.


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  1. Dan Edward Phillips 06/06/2011 12:52 PM
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Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

That's a dirty trick, David!

Jun 02, 2011 06:12 PM #1
Dan Edward Phillips
Dan Edward Phillips, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA - Eureka, CA
Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, CA

Good Morning David. a good reminder that you only get what you 'inspect'.  Thanks for the warning!

Jun 03, 2011 02:07 AM #2
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

David=that's a new one I haven't heard of, very clever, thanks for the heads up. Best

Jun 03, 2011 04:21 PM #3
David Artigliere
Reading, Pottstown, Norristown, Philadelphia - Collegeville, PA
ARTI Home Inspections, ASHI Certified Home Inspect

This one surprised me and we just need to warn people when we hear of these new, clever tricks meant to deceive and cause harm.


Jun 15, 2011 03:39 AM #4
Gloria Todor
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services - Newtown Square, PA
& Doug Durren (484) 431-3686 in SE PA

Hi David, Gosh it is amazing what people do when they put their minds to it.  I had not heard of this one yet, but will not be surprised to hear more of it down the road.  Good you found out before your returned the deposit money.


Jul 11, 2011 01:23 PM #5
David Artigliere
Reading, Pottstown, Norristown, Philadelphia - Collegeville, PA
ARTI Home Inspections, ASHI Certified Home Inspect

Yes, Gloria, and it's too bad this tenant didn't put his energies more for "good" things in his life rather than spend so much time on negative energy.

Jul 21, 2011 01:08 PM #6
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

I’ve had my share of tenant scams over the years. Some of them have been quite ingenious. If they would put as much effort into their jobs, they could probably move up the corporate ladder, make more money, and actually buy a home!

Jul 21, 2011 04:12 PM #7
David Artigliere
Reading, Pottstown, Norristown, Philadelphia - Collegeville, PA
ARTI Home Inspections, ASHI Certified Home Inspect

Yes Russel!  If only...

Jul 22, 2011 12:00 AM #8
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David Artigliere

ARTI Home Inspections, ASHI Certified Home Inspect
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