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There are two basic types of home heating oil tanks, above ground storage tanks (AST) and underground storage tanks (UST). AST's are visible and when a leak or spill occurs it is apparent. This is not always true with UST's. Typically, these tanks are constructed of steel and can range in size from 50 gallons to 20,000 gallons. One of the greatest misconceptions is that residential heating oil UST's are regulated the same way gasoline station tanks are regulated. Actually, home heating oil UST's are exempt from technical requirements. This means that home heating oil UST's do not have to install a leak detection device, corrosion protection or spill and overfill prevention. Owners of underground home heating oil tanks are not required to sample the soil when the system is closed out. In fact, unless there is a spill or release from the home heating oil UST, there are no reporting requirements.
How do you know if your home has or has had a home heating oil UST?
Many times the fill cap and or the vent pipe will stick-up out of the ground. If this is not the case, you can do some investigating to determine if your home used an UST as a source of energy for heating the home. If it is a basement home, or if pipes are exposed under the home, you can follow any unknown pipes leading from the home to see if they "dead end" through an outside wall. You can then examine the area on the outside of the home near the location of any unknown piping to see if a fill cap can be located. Fill caps are usually flush with the ground, so you may have to get your hands dirty looking for this. Sometimes the ground is uneven in the area of UST's, either forming a depression or hump in the ground. If you are still suspicious of an area, but no fill cap can be located, you can always rent a metal detector to try and locate the tank.
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