Heating Oil Tanks

Heating Oil Tanks – what you need to know

Heating Oil Tanks come in two varieties: plastic (normally made from polyethylene) and metal (normally steel). The size of units varies with smaller capacity domestic tanks typically satisfactory to between 1000 litres and 2000 litres. Homeowners who have oil-burning range cookers might want to consider utilising a larger capacity unit of closer to 3,500 units. In this age of austerity, it is worth reminding ourselves that 3,500 litres gets expensive to fill – a 2 pence difference per litre represents £70 – so readers are strongly advised to shop around and use price comparison sites to find the cheapest oil in their area.

If buying a tank – and faced with the choice of plastic or steel – the more environmentally friendly option is perhaps the plastic tank. Steel tanks, no matter how well cared for, will begin to corrode over time and corrosion means potential leakage, and lost oil costs £ – as well as causes damage to the environment.

A regular (single skinned) heating oil tank is fundamentally a storage container akin to a Tupperware box, but bunded tanks are also available. Bunded tanks have an inner casing within the outer tank and provide greater protection against damage and leaks. Such units are also referred to as double skinned. The drop down in volume (i.e. the space actually occupied) between the inner and outer tank linings is around 10%.

Once you have decided to go the oil tank route, the next issue is where to site it. Above ground or underground? Now, a 2000 litre tank takes up some space. Let’s use a real world example here (a QSS H2000 Horizontal Single Skin Oil Tank 2000 LITRES to be precise) to examine dimensions. These are:

  • Length 6’6” (1950mm)
  • Width 4’0” (1200mm)
  • Height 4’2” (1270mm)

In turn, the footprint is 3’8” x 5’7” (1100 x 1680mm).

So, the tank represents a hulking and significant size. Putting such a beast above ground represents an aesthetic challenge for the homeowner. If over ground is the only option, look to hide the unit behind an existing building (perhaps a garage or outbuilding), or if that is not possible – look to surround it with trellising and hedging. If the tank can be buried, great, but remember that it will be harder to examine the tank for signs of aging and installation costs will be higher. If the tank is new, current life expectancies means that it should not be an issue for many years (most tanks come with long guarantees also). Whether you choose to site the tank above ground or below ground – do not forget that it needs to be accessible (and safely accessible) by the fuel oil company!

Other things to consider. Make sure the tank is properly secured. Whilst it is not easy to steal a thousand litres of heating oil (you need a tanker after all) it does happen so make sure the access flap is secured with a high grade padlock. Consider building regulations when looking to install a tank (they do apply to heating tanks despite what some people think) and there are certain rules about the proximity to other buildings (e.g. minimum distances from doors and windows). Finally, there is nothing worse than running out of oil in the dead of winter, with suppliers telling you there is a 5 day lead time. Invest in a fuel gauge! But more importantly – check it regularly! This piece of top notch advice comes from someone who remembers a rather cold couple of days when the heating oil ran out. Ahem.

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