Is your Oil Tank safe?

Oil tank safety is nothing to bury your head in the sand about or hide from. You need to keep your eyes wide open. Many rural residences in our area are heated with fuel oil due to the lack of natural gas connections and a preference to stay away from wood. Unfortunately, fuel oil heat brings with it a risk of a leak or spill.

A spill or leak can be devastating for your family, your bank account and the environment. Fuel oil contains a small amount of a known carcinogen called benzene. A leak over the years could cause prolonged exposure to your family. If a fuel spill or leak is detected, a family could be displaced from their home for a long time while clean-up takes place. This could be upsetting and very inconvenient, not to mention extra expenses the family could incur.

1 Litre of Fuel Oil Can Contaminate 1 Million Litres of Water*
Damage to the environment can be significant as well. Oil that is spilled or leaks can leach into the ground, spread several hundred metres away and contaminate wells, water tables, rivers and streams. You could be held personally liable if there is damage to the environment, neighbouring properties and water sources from an oil spill or leak starting on your property.

Oil spills and leaks that are covered under South Easthope Mutual policies can range in the cost of several thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. These very expensive claims cost every member of the company.

Unfortunately due to past fuel spills or the risk of them, many insurance companies will no longer insure homes with oil heat. South Easthope Mutual does continue to insure most homes however we have insurable requirements that need to be followed.

A detailed list of our insurable requirements for oil tanks can be obtained by talking to your South Easthope Mutual agent or broker or our loss prevention specialist. Below are some common sense tips to help you with making sure your interior and exterior tanks are as safe as possible:

General Oil Tanks Loss Prevention Tips
• Ensure the tank is CSA/ULC certified.
• All equipment needs to meet the TSSA code.
• Schedule a yearly maintenance inspection by a certified technician.
• Inspect your tank looking for corrosion, leaks, weakness or bleeding through.
• Do not install used tanks.
• Do not use 2nd hand oil.
• Fuel should be delivered by a qualified fuel oil supplier.
• The tank thickness needs to be a minimum 12 gauge and must be double walled or double bottomed or a single wall fiberglass (TSSA – 14 gauge tanks can no longer be installed as of January 1, 2013). If you have questions about this, contact your certified technician.
• Interior tanks need to be less than 20 years old.
• The tank should be a safe distance away from sewer, septic, sump pits and drains.
• Your tank should be installed on a solid concrete slab base.
• Make sure the vent whistle is working.
• Keep a clear space around your tank and ensure there are no items on or around the tank that could damage it or the lines.

Exterior Tank Specific Loss Prevention Tips
• Make sure no grass, weeds or plants are growing under the tank.
• The tank should be:
• A safe distance away from filter beds, septic systems, streams and other water.
• Protected to protect damage from falling ice and vehicle impact.
• Less than 15 years old.

*Statistic from: Insurance Bureau of Canada –

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