choosing an oil tankIn many parts of the country, oil continues to be the only option for heating a home.  Many homeowners, in these situations, find themselves needing to replace their ancient oil tank. Whether they inherited the tank through the purchase of a home or it’s been so many years since they first had their tank installed, the gut reaction is generally to simply ask for the exact type of tank they already had. Just the newest model.

However, in the past twenty years, oil tank engineering has seen many advances and what was right for your home in the 1980’s may not be right for your home today. It is important to look at your options prior to choosing your new tank and select the tank that will serve your family and your property in the best way possible for years to come.

Choosing The Right Location For Your Oil Tank

The first thing to consider when purchasing a new oil tank is the best place to have the tank installed. This decision will need to be made after looking at several factors. The first is, the size of your family, the size of your home, and the layout of your property.

An above ground, indoor storage tank is best for a family that needs between 160 and 400 gallons of fuel. These tanks, when stored indoors, don’t pose the environmental risks of an outdoor tank, however, you must be careful of the activity that goes on in the area where you are storing the tank. Placing an above ground tank indoors near a workbench could be a hazard if nails, screws, or swinging tools accidentally puncture the tank. A garage would be a safety concern, as a driver who loses control of the car for a moment, putting the car in drive instead of reverse, etc, could run into the tank and cause a greater need for remediation than if the tank had leaked underground. A basement playroom would also not be idea for the storage of an above ground tank, as the health risks to children would be great.

The benefit to an above ground, indoor storage tank is that they are easy to inspect and maintain. Because a homeowner can casually visually inspect the tank every time they are in its presence, any issues will be quickly diagnosed and dealt with.

However, an above ground, indoor storage tank is never going to be attractive to look at and could depreciate the value of the home.

If a property cannot handle an underground tank, due to size or ground material, and the there is also no feasible space for an above ground indoor tank, an above ground, outdoor tank is also an option.

These tanks are often a bit larger than the above ground, indoor tanks, simply because they are not constrained by walls. These tanks hold a similar amount of fuel as above ground, indoor tanks.

The issue with an above ground, outdoor tank is exposure to elements. These tanks, obviously, do not have a roof and walls to shield them from weather, however, they are also more exposed than underground tanks, as they do not have the soil to act as a barrier to the elements.  Not only does water, snow  and wind pose a threat to above ground, outdoor tanks, but there are also the dangers of downed trees and branches, and neighborhood children playing too close to the tank with rocks, stones, and other puncturing materials.

As with the indoor tanks, these tanks do allow for easy inspection and maintenance, but also like the indoor tanks, they can be an eyesore and affect property values.

If an above ground tank, whether indoor or outdoor, is not right for your family, then you can invest in an underground tank.

Underground tanks are the best bet for a homeowner that cannot store the tank on the inside and does not want the eyesore of the tank above the ground, outside.  An underground tank can maximize your storage potential without having to visually impact your landscaping. The soil surrounding the tank will protect it from weather and environmental damage, however, any erosion of the tank that occurs will be undetectable until it is too late.

Once you have decided where your tank will be located, you need to settle on the specific type of tank you desire. In the past, tank options were limited, but today’s tanks are steel, fiberglass, or polyethylene.

Steel continues to be the most popular type of oil storage tank due to the inexpensive cost. The drawback to steel tanks, however, is the potential for rust, corrosion, and puncture.

Fiberglass tanks eliminate the rust and corrosion concerns of steel tanks and can also be used for both below and above ground fuel storage.

Polyethylene tanks are also known as “double-wall” tanks. They are constructed of a thick, durable polyethylene composite which is covered by a layer of galvanized steel. These tanks offer the best of both worlds and are the most popular choice for oil storage tanks in new contstruction.

Any of these tanks can serve the needs of a homeowner, but it is up to the individual to consider the specific needs of their family and to consult with their insurance company to decide which is the right fit for their home.