Q. An Abandoned Oil Tank

Q. Hey Mark,
I was showing a home to a client, and a concern was raised about the abandoned oil tank in the basement. One of the client’s relatives said is was a potential explosion hazard, and it would cost thousands of dollars to have it removed. What do you think?
Cyndi

A. Hey Cyndi,
Frankly, I haven’t run into many oil tanks. So, I had to do a little research and enlist the help of a few “InterNACHI Certified Inspector” friends to help me out.

Here’s what I’ve learned…
First of all, the tank is not an explosion risk because heating oil will not explode unless it is either atomized or under pressure, so that isn’t much of a concern. Of course if there is oil in the tank, and it leaks, then the spill would be an environmental concern, and just an all around mess to clean up.

While the tank isn’t really a safety concern, the consensus is that it should be probably be removed all the same. Even though I haven’t seen the site, I think I can say with a fair amount of confidence that it won’t be a major problem. They got it in the basement somehow, so they should be able to get it back out again the same way.

I think your cost is going to probably be in the $1000.00 range. Less if there is usable oil that the company can salvage out of the tank. Of course, the specific circumstances involved could make the removal somewhat higher, but the general consensus of my colleagues is in the $600-$1400 range. I would contact any heating oil distributor or oil boiler repair company for professional removal.

One of my Home Inspector friends suggested finding someone that would want to take it for free and make it into a barbeque pit. (Now I like that. That’s thinking outside the box. ) Try http://www.freecycle.org/ and see if someone wants to come and get it for free. You never know!!!

Mark Nahrgang is the owner of Kingdom Inspection Network Group – St. Louis and is a professional NACHI certified building inspector in the St. Louis metro area. Mark performs home inspections as well as commercial inspections throughout St. Louis and St. Charles County.

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