Domestic Oil Tank Removal and Disposal
There could be a number of reasons why you may need to have your oil tank removed. For example, it’s too old and needs upgrading, it is damaged, you’re renovating a property, you’re changing your heating requirements or you just need a bigger tank for a growing family. But a word or caution – removing an oil tank and disposing of it yourself is not an option so, please do not do it yourself and always hire professionals.
Why remove an oil tank?
In general, an oil tank needs to be replaced every 15-25 years. However, if your tank is leaking or damaged, such as a crack in the casing, any dents or bulges, or if it has become discoloured, it is time to have it removed and disposed of by professional oil tank installation experts.
Your heating oil tank should be inspected and serviced by an OFTEC registered heating engineer every year, as well as your heating system, as they will advise you if there are any problems and if your oil tank needs to be replaced.
Before removing an old oil tank, it is wise to use up the oil left in the tank to make the job easier. However, be very careful not to let the level of oil go too low otherwise the contaminated oil in the bottom, which contains a lot of sediment and dirt, could be pulled into the pipes and subsequently your heating system and cause significant problems.
How an oil tank is removed and its disposal
The process must always be carried out by a specialist engineer. In most cases, whether your tank is metal or plastic, the materials can be recycled so always select a company that has a recycling policy.
Whilst the process is quite easy to accomplish, your OFTEC registered technician will need to have the correct licence to dispose of any excess or contaminated oil, as well as the right equipment to do the job, including arranging for a holding tank. In most cases, the old tank will be replaced by a new one so any excess oil that isn’t from the bottom of the old tank and is contaminated can be put back into your new heating oil tank.
The steps to removing and disposing of a heating oil tank are as follows:
Step 1 – your engineer will test how much oil is left in the tank and within that, how much oil is sitting on the bottom of the tank. This oil will be contaminated and will need to be disposed of according to specific environmental rules.
Step 2 – the clean oil (the layer of oil that is sitting above the contaminated oil on the bottom of the tank) will be pumped out of the tank, using a professional commercial pump, into a holding tank.
Step 3 – the contaminated oil that is on the bottom of the old oil tank will be pumped out and transferred into a waste oil container ready for disposal at a licensed site.
Step 4 – once all the old, contaminated oil has been removed, the tank is cleaned out, de-gassed and disconnected from the pipes and the base it is sitting on. Before the tank is removed, the engineer will re-test the tank to ensure that it is gas-free and if so, will issue a certificate to confirm.
Step 5 – the tank is then removed whole, if access is sufficient to get a vehicle with a mounted crane up to the tank site without causing any damage to the property. Alternatively, a team of specialists will be called in to cut up the old oil tank on site using both hot and cold cutting; reciprocating saws are used for plastic tanks and either a gas torch or a tool called a steel nibbler for steel tanks, and the pieces subsequently removed.
Step 6 – once the old tank has been removed, the engineer will issue a Waste Transfer Notice which covers the removal of the hazardous waste material.
Can I remove and dispose of an old oil tank myself?
The answer to this question is no, you can’t, and please do not attempt to do so. The removal and disposal of an old oil storage tank must be carried out according to existing Building Regulations.
An OFTEC registered engineer will carry out an assessment to decommission, remove and dispose of the old oil tank, identifying any fire or environmental risks that may be associated with the process. For example:
- The transfer of leftover oil to a holding tank and pumping the contaminated oil on the bottom of the tank to an oil waste container ready for disposal
- Disposing of the contaminated oil under licence and specific regulations
- Disconnecting the old tank safely from all pipework and from the base on which it sits
- Cleaning and degassing the old tank before testing and confirming it is gas-free, and issuing a certificate accordingly
- Removing and/or cutting up the old tank safely by qualified engineers and subsequently recycling the old materials
- Issuing a Waste Transfer Notice regarding the removal of hazardous material
- Informing building control of the work carried out and certifying that it has been done according to Building Regulations.
In most cases, an old oil storage tank is removed to make way for a new heating oil tank and the same engineers will usually install the new tank as part of the contract. They will also be able to advise you which type of oil tank will be most suitable for your property, such as a plastic or metal tank, bunded (double skinned) or single-skinned, and where it should be located in accordance with OFTEC’s regulations.
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