Comprehensive Aboveground Tank Testing

Our aboveground tank test includes:

  • A full visual inspection
  • Determination and explanation of the contents of the tank


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Not Sure Where To Start? Follow These Tips:

Step 1: Search the grounds for buried tanks

An aboveground tank in the basement or outside the home may indicate a past problem with an underground heating oil tank. Homeowners have been known to install above ground tanks and stop using the buried oil tank because they suspect the underground tank may be leaking.

Today, many of these properties still have buried oil tanks, and frequently these tanks have leaked heating oil into the ground.

It is critical that the home buyer identifies this problem during their inspection period before taking possession of the property.

Recommendation: Hire a professional to thoroughly search the premises for any underground tank. ATS offers expert tank location services which identifies buried oil tanks on the property.

Step 2: Visually inspect the aboveground tank

The above ground tank should be visually inspected for evidence of corrosion, rust, holes, leaking pipes, loose joints and oil staining.

The inspection should also examine the condition of the tank’s support legs. The support legs should be structurally sound to prevent the tank from collapsing onto the floor or outside ground.

Recommendation: A visual inspection finds leaks and corrosion before extensive environmental damage occurs. ATS offers a complete visual inspection service which includes a written report detailing our findings.

Step 3: If the above ground tank is outside, examine the soil underneath the tank for heating oil.

A home buyer should be concerned that the property may have had a tank that pre-dated the current one. If this prior tank leaked heating oil, a new tank may have been installed in the same location.

If this is the case, it is likely that the new tank was installed without regard to the soil condition underneath the tank.

Recommendation: The ATS visual inspection package includes an on-site soil test which identifies the presence of petroleum in the soil underneath the above ground tank. If petroleum is detected as part of this process, we recommend a comprehensive analysis of the soil. Soil testing options can vary state to state.

Misconceptions About Aboveground Tanks

There are many common misconceptions about aboveground tanks.  We’ve compiled the five most common here:

1. Aboveground tanks pose less risk

This is the most common misconception about aboveground oil tanks. Often, aboveground heating oil tanks located inside a building can pose a greater risk than underground tanks. If there is an oil leak inside the building, the clean-up costs can easily exceed $100,000. On top of the cost, it may require the occupants to leave the home during the months the clean-up can take.

2. Aboveground tank spills are simpler to clean

Actually in most cases, where there is an aboveground oil tank failure inside a dwelling, the fumes caused by the spill can be hazardous. Often, the building has to be raised up to remove the contaminated soil beneath the house. Comparatively, if there in an underground tank failure, most clean-up measures only require the removal of contaminated soil and usually pose no health risk to house occupants.

3. Buying a house with an aboveground tank is better

Potential home buyers are often lead to believe that there is less potential liability when purchasing a home with an underground heating oil tank compared to an aboveground oil tank. The reality is that most underground tank clean-ups can be performed for a cost of $9,000 to $20,000 and the clean-up usually takes no more than 1-2 days. Clean-up for aboveground tank failures inside a home or commercial building typically start at $100,000 and can take months to remediate the environmental hazards. Many homeowners’ insurances have exclusions for these environmental circumstances.

4. Frequent testing in not necessary for aboveground tanks

Inspection and evaluation of an aboveground tank is vital to avoid the potential risk associated with these tanks. Aboveground tanks located at commercial buildings are required by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to be periodically evaluated. Although aboveground tanks used by homeowners do not fall under the requirements of the law, these tanks should really be evaluated on the same scale as commercial tanks to avoid future risk. It is important that this evaluation also provide the life expectancy of the aboveground tank.

5. All aboveground tank testing is the same

Before hiring a company to inspect and evaluate an aboveground tank, make sure it follows the requirements for commercial tanks as defined by the USEPA and State agencies


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