Real Estate Agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 NRDS ID#641625055



I don't know if this applies to other states but, here on Long Island, when you convert to gas heat from oil, the oil tank must be abandoned properly. Years ago, it didn't matter but, with the new concern for environmental protection, soil and water contamination are, understandably, a very hot topic.  oil tank 1/26/12

When you convert to gas heat in your home, besides removing the old oil burner and boiler, you must also give thought to how you're going to decommission your old oil tank that may be buried beneath the ground. It's not just a recommendation; it's the law.

Even if your oil tank was emptied and the fill pipes were plugged before the conversion, it's likely there remains a little oil or sludge. Over time, the tank will start to decompose and what's left on the inside will leak out. This is the real concern.

Oil tanks can be filled with sand or foam or you can have it pulled from the ground. There are companies that provide this service. When it's done properly, the homeowner receives a certificate. In Nassau County, the Department of Health also gets a certificate that is kept on file. I wish I could say the process works the same in Suffolk County but there, this rule has only sporadically been enforced, to date, and homeowners have often misplaced the paperwork or never had it to begin with.

This can make home sales even more complicated than necessary and possibly delay the contract signing while all interested parties attempt to figure out if the oil tank was ever legally abandoned and, if necessary, how it will be remedied. You may wonder how it's possible that the homeowners don't know if the job has been done but, if the conversion took place twenty years ago, and the owners are elderly, it's likely that they've long forgotten.

Yet, this is a failure that can't be overlooked in today's housing market. Often, attorneys will not close unless this problem has been addressed and homeowner's insurance for the new residents may be difficult to get. The new buyers will likely incur tremendous costs if the job is not done prior to their move and the future resale potential of the property will be effected if the job is not done at all.

Just something else to worry about...



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Belinda Spillman
Aspen Lane Real Estate Colorful Colorado - Aurora, CO
Colorado Living!

Hi Jill,  We don't have those in Colorado.  I have seen some porpane tanks in the rural communities that people use for heating but not oil. 

Jan 26, 2012 10:14 AM #1
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Perry Wellington Realty, Adam Conrad, Broker - Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Jill, I am going to look into this for my area...just something else to worry about.

Jan 26, 2012 11:44 AM #2
Kathy Clulow
RE/MAX All-Stars Realty Inc. Brokerage - Uxbridge, ON
Trusted For Experience - Respected For Results

Jill - the cost of cleanup after an oil leak/spill is astronomical and time consuming ..... it's much better to remove the tank properly and before it starts to leak

Jan 26, 2012 12:32 PM #3
Francine Viola
Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Olympia WA - Olympia, WA
Realtor, In Tune with your Real Estate Needs

This is an issue in my market.  And we have the same laws that abandoned oil tanks need to be either removed or decommissioned; and that needs to be recorded at the county.  Even if the tank was decommissioned properly, the potential buyer can still opt to have a soil test just to make sure there was no leakage or environmental hazard.  (Most of our tanks are underground tanks.) 

Jan 26, 2012 12:51 PM #4
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hi Jill,  I guess it is different then in the old days when I was growing up in Penna.  That would be lots of sand to fill one of them.

Jan 26, 2012 02:20 PM #5
Ron Marshall
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire

Jill, ours was buried under the concrete in a four car garage.  There was no way we were digging that huge tank up and getting it out.  And, it took several hundred dollars to "decommission" it.  Now we have an attractive tank beside the house when we got our new fuel oil furnace!  (We hate gas.)

Jan 27, 2012 12:59 AM #6
Cindy Westfall
Premiere Property Group,LLC Portland Metro & Suburbs Oregon - Tualatin, OR
ABR,GRI Your Tualatin & Portland Metro Real Estate

Hi Jill, we deal with this a lot..especially in older homes. Ours too by law need to be decommissioned which can now cost several thousands of dollars. A typical tip off if there is a buried gas tank is a pipe coming up from the ground that looks random.We have several companies that do soil testing and decommissioning. Great post!

Jan 27, 2012 11:59 AM #7
Brian Madigan
RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto) - Toronto, ON
LL.B., Broker

A few days before closing is often too late. This should be something on the agenda right from the time of the listing.

Jan 28, 2012 09:45 AM #8
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Belinda - I guess gas is most common there? 

Rebecca - I'm sure you would know if this was an issue in your area.

Kathy - It sure is. All kinds of headaches avoided.

Francine - So you have plenty of experience.

Will - Those must be some big tanks.

Ron - I'd be interested in hearing your argument for oil.

Thanks, Cynthia. - As one of those friends from Long Island, I hope you don't mind. I saw the fill pipe but I was repeatedly assured that all the work had been done properly, there was no need for a pre-inspection (not in the domain of an inspector, anyhow) and there would be no surprises.

Brian - Yes, it should but proper paperwork hasn't turned up and I'm beginning to think there's been an error made on the part of the homeowners. Hopefully, we can get the problem fixed as it is holding up contract.


Jan 28, 2012 10:38 AM #9
Sheila Newton Team Anderson & Greenville SC
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - C. Dan Joyner - Anderson, SC
Selling the Upstate since 1989

I used to see alot of these but not so many now days.. maybe we got rid of them all!!

Jan 28, 2012 01:50 PM #10
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo & Home Sale Specialists

Jill, This is a great topic to write about. It is a conern here on Long Island and adding the link is a good source for consumers!

Jan 28, 2012 09:51 PM #11
Maria Gilda Racelis
Home Buyers Realty, LLC-Manchester, Bolton. Vernon,Ellington - Manchester, CT
Home Ownership is w/in Reach. We Make it Happen!

Hi Jill: In the State of Connecticut, oil tanks should be removed by a company licensed and certified in waste or hazard removal. If the property with an abandoned oil tank is for sale, this will undoubtedly impede the sale. Nonetheless, for sale or not, a responsible and environmental-conscious homeowner would not let it sit there.

Thanks for sharing. Best. Maria

Jan 28, 2012 10:38 PM #12
Ron Marshall
Marshall Enterprises - Saint Michael, MN
Birdhouse Builder Extraordinaire

JILL!!!!!   All, you have to do is log in and you will be at 150,000 points!  Congratulations.  (I'm hitting a milestone today, too.)  Have a great week.

Jan 29, 2012 01:15 AM #13
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Sheila - now that's good news.

Thanks, Larry and Sheila - I figure if I'm experiencing something and I write about it, someone else will be sure to benefit.

Hi Maria - I'm with you on this.

Ron - I hadn't even noticed. Thanks for watching out for me!

Jan 29, 2012 12:32 PM #14
The Scott Loper Team Bux-Mont Premier Properties
Keller Williams Real Estate - Montgomeryville - Lansdale, PA

Hi Jill,

Here in PA underground oil tanks need to be removed when a property is sold.  I don't think there is anything that triggers it when changing heating systems however.  I say the sooner the better.  They are just very expensive problems waiting to happen.


Jan 29, 2012 10:22 PM #15
Suzanne McLaughlin
Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael) - Saint Michael, MN
Sabinske & Associates, Realtor

Jill, those tanks have nearly been deal-killers for me in the past.  Oh, the headaches....I don't want to think about it.  But, you did a great job here getting the information out.

Jan 31, 2012 08:03 AM #16
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

The Scott Loper Team - Agreed, the sooner, the better. Expensive and Aggravating.

Suzanne - Thanks. I'm experiencing exactly the same thing.

Feb 01, 2012 01:13 AM #17
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Jill Sackler

LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate
Long Island Living - Where Memories Are Made
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