By: Tim Butler

Maintaining and replacing Above-Ground Storage Tanks is the responsibility of the homeowner. This concept needs to be communicated to tank owners prior to delivery. If a tank is known to be old or is showing signs of corrosion, flaking, or deterioration, remember these three steps:

  1. DOCUMENT- Take photos of the tank’s condition. Notify the property owner of your concerns and keep for your records. This documentation is critical and could save hundreds of thousands of dollars down the road.
  2. ADVISE – Recommend they replace the tank.  Many homeowners have no idea how expensive and inconvenient a fuel oil remediation project can be in the state of Massachusetts.  If your company provides install services, present an estimate for a new tank install. If not, recommend a local company who can help them.
  3. STOP DELIVERY- Do not deliver to outdoor tanks that are over 10 years old. Do not deliver to indoor tanks that are over 30 years old. Do not deliver to any tanks that are flaking, corroding, deteriorating, pitting, or questionable in any manner.

Extracted directly from MADEP fact sheet:

For outdoor above-ground tanks:
  • Ask your oil company to inspect the stability of the above-ground tank. A full 275-gallon tank weighs more than 2,000 pounds! They have metal legs and should sit on a concrete pad. If the legs become loose or the pad cracks, the tank can fall over and rupture.
  • Replace an outdoor above-ground storage tank that has been uncovered for 10 years or longer. These tanks rust from the inside out, so cleaning or painting the outside does not usually prolong their life.
  • Protect the tank from the weather, such as falling snow and ice, and prevent ruptures by tree limbs.
For indoor above-ground tanks:
  • Inspect indoor above-ground storage tanks for signs of pitting and corrosion, particularly at the bottom of the tank. A tank primarily rusts from the inside out, so if signs of aging are present, replace the tank. Indoor tanks do not last more than about 30 years, and often their lifespan is much shorter.
  • Consider placing a plastic heating oil tray or pan under the tank. This makes it easier to keep the tank area clean and help identify and contain small leaks.


Tim Butler is the Technical Investigator for eRisk Solutions.