Your guide to oil tank safety in winter

Ireland has been experiencing a particularly bad period of snowy and stormy weather, which can play havoc with our homes. It’s not just our houses we have to worry about during the winter though – your home heating oil tank needs some attention too. Keeping your oil tank in a good state of repair ensures the contents are safe too, and reduces the risks of a costly and damaging clean up should the worst happen. To help you check over your oil tank and prevent the loss of any home heating oil, here’s your guide to oil tank safety in winter.

After a heavy snow fall

Snow weighing on top of your oil tank can be very damaging, so as soon as the weather starts to improve, take a brush to carefully remove any snow off the top of your tank. If your tank rests on legs, this reduces the weight and the pressure on them, and keeps the base steady. If there are predictions for another cold spell, make sure you have carefully lagged any exposed pipes. Whilst your home heating oil won’t freeze, there could be water condensation build up in your tank which could freeze, and block the fuel lines leading to a disruption in the supply of oil to your boiler.

After heavy winds

Windy weather can cause damage to your oil tank by blowing heavy debris in its path. Check around your oil tank after a storm to remove any fallen branches or garden furniture which could have knocked into it or dented it. You should look out for any new scrapes, loose fittings and of course underneath the tank for damp patches which is a sure sign that your tank is leaking home heating oil.

Checking your tank over

Rusted pipes or closures can spell bad news for your oil tank, so if they have started to look a bit worn, talk to a specialist oil tank provider about getting these replaced. The average oil tank lifespan is around 20 years, so you may need to consider a new tank if yours is any older than this. Your tank lock is also an important feature for securing your home heating oil – if it has rusted over it will be easier for fuel thieves to break into. If it needs replaced, don’t delay – it’s a small cost that could prevent the loss of hundreds of pounds worth of your home heating oil.

Visual signs of an unsafe oil tank

Aside from the obvious leaking, there are some additional warning signs to look out for this winter. Check your tank closely for any changes in colour – a plastic tank can sometimes have white marks where it has been damaged or where it might be about to split, and on a metal tank the paint on it can start to blister and peel off. The valves and connections should all be dry – if they are leaking, they will feel damp. Any rust spots or signs of corrosion anywhere on your tank is also a sign that your tank is unsafe.

If in doubt, have your oil tank checked out by a professional. A leak from your oil tank is more than just a waste of money – it can be a dangerous and time consuming clean up, as well as a threat to water sources and wildlife.

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