Several years ago, I had my oil tank filled just before the long Thanksgiving weekend. I dont know why I went down into my dark, damp, dirt floored basement that Wednesday night, perhaps to just check to see if the oil was delivered, but Ill always be glad I did. What I discovered was a steady drip of oil coming out of the bottom of the tank. and it was getting worse. Luckily I had a container to catch the dripping oil and called my oil company who came right over. That night, the night before Thanksgiving, they pumped all of the oil out of the tank into another one placed just outside through a basement window that was now feeding my furnace. I think they were there until after midnight. That was certainly a close call since if left undiscovered all 250+ gallons would have been spilled directly into the ground and potentially contaminating my water supply, not to mention the cost of clean up.
Maine homeowners who rely on oil heat may want to take some time to look at their heating systems before the really cold weather sets in.
Maine Homeowners Should Establish Regular Home ChecksMaine Realtors and insurance professionals know that most people consider these systems only when there are problems or when theyre moving. Whats not broken doesnt require fixing, and there are plenty of repairs or renovations that warrant most homeowners attention.
Still, there are a couple things worth considering. One is that a heating system thats working at peak efficiency will save money by avoiding the cost of wasted fuel. The other is that a well-maintained system is less likely to leak, losing fuel and possibly damaging other possessions in the process.
Maine Home Oil Tank TestingMany furnace technicians will test the integrity of the fuel tank. Using ultrasonic test equipment, they can take noninvasive measurements of the thickness of the tank near the bottom. While this type of testing isnt foolproof, it can help determine when internal corrosion is making tank walls dangerously thin.
Testing may yield surprising results. Some older home oil tanks test better than their age might indicate; the use of thicker steel in some older tanks may be the reason. So, dont assume that just because your tank is an older model, it must need replacing.
Outdoor Maine Home Oil Storage TanksOutdoor storage tanks pose special problems. In addition to the risk of corrosion, theyre also susceptible to damage from falling objects, especially ice. Butch Bowie, environmental specialist with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, urges owners of outdoor tanks to have filter protectors. The mini-shelters cost between $50 and $100 and can save the expense of equipment replacement and spill cleanup.
The DEP receives reports on average of one oil spill every day. The department has a section on tank safety on its website; visit www.maine.gov/dep/rwm/homeowner/homeheatingoil/index.htm for more information.
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