Get To Know Your Oil Heating Fuel Tank

Ontario has the lowest standards for oil tank thickness in Canada, according to government regulations. Most insurance companies provide coverage in other provinces and may have higher standards then the provincial regulations in Ontario. So even through government safety standards do not require you to have your oil tank inspected, the insurance company might ask for an inspection in order to provide you with the right coverage. For example, some insurers won’t insure single walled tanks even though they are acceptable by the safety code in Ontario.

Common Causes of Oil Spills

  1. Pinhole leaks from interior or exterior corrosion
  2. Damaged fuel lines of filters from falling objects snow or ice
  3. Leaking pump, atomizer, or fuel oil filter
  4. Valves or fuel lines burst from pressurization during the filling process when a vent pipe is blocked
  5. Oil tank topples as a result of an unstable base or footing 6. Oil tank is overfilled at the time of delivery
  6. Vehicle impact to outside oil tank

Preventative Measures

Every homeowner using fuel should adopt the following preventative measures to protect their home, family, and neighbours:

  • Be aware of the smell of oil. Contact your heating contractor immediately if you smell the odour of fuel oil.
  • Check to ensure that your oil tank is approved by Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada (ULC).
  • If your tank is 12 years of age or older, consider replacing the tank with a new tank.
  • Never buy or install used fuel oil tanks. Never transfer oil from an old tank to a new tank, as water contaminants can also be transfers.
  • Oil tanks should be located at least 100 ft. from the nearest well. Tanks located beside driveways should be protected with concrete posts.
  • Ice shields are available to protect your tank and lines from falling snow or ice. If your tank is at risk, have a shield installed.
  • Oil tank should rest on a solid, non- combustible, level surface.
  • Oil tanks should not be touching a wall, resting on wood of wood supports, or raised on stacked blocks.

Did you know…
According to Statistics Canada, over 300,000 homes in Ontario use oil as the primary fuel for heating.
Over 85% of the tanks manufactured in Canada in the last 25 years have been 14 gauge.
The median age of fuel oil tanks is 10 years.

Self-Inspection Checklist

If you are experiencing any of the below, contact your oil tank technician or fuel oil supplier to arrange for a more detailed inspection.

  • The legs of my fuel oil tank are resting on an unstable footing, are bent, or appear badly corroded.
  • There are signs of leakage around the fill or vent pipes, or by the tank itself.
  • There is a strong smell of fuel oil near my fuel oil tank.
  • There are signs of dripping oil from the bottom of the tank.
  • The filter and/or fuel line located at the base of the tank is not protected from falling ice or snow.
  • There is rust or corrosion on the outside of the tank.
  • The fuel oil line for the tank runs under a concrete floor, or is encased in concrete.
  • The vent whistle is silent when the tank is being filled (ask the delivery person).
  • Oil consumption seems higher than normal. The fuel oil gauge for the tank is broken, missing, or faulty.
  • I did not have my fuel oil tank, connection lines and furnace inspected by a qualified oil burner technician last year.