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 Heating Oil Storage Tanks

Considerations in picking the best oil storage tank for home heating systems


Classes of heating oil tanks        Tank Construction and Safety         Types of heating oil tanks

Summary: The oil heating industry has developed a variety of tanks to ensure that heating oil is safely contained at the consumers residence. Whether installed above ground inside or below it outside, made of steel, fiberglass or both, there is an oil storage tank to fit every application.


Standing in silence over in the corner of the basement or garage, is an often-overlooked integral part of any home heating system . It is easy to walk by this component, resting along side of the house all year long, without giving it much thought.

But the simple truth is this: without a source of fuel, the rest of the heating system is just so much cold metal and wires.

Heating oil storage tanks offer homeowners the ability to safely store an adequate supply of heating oil for immediate use whenever cold weather arrives or a need to heat the home arises. Having the facilities to store bulk amounts of fuel onsite affords consumers the opportunity to purchase heating oil at the most favorable prices as well.

Two basic classes of heating oil tanks:

Aboveground tanks:

An aboveground tank may be in the basement, utility room or attached garage of the home. Most inside tanks are the 275-gallon basement tank.

Aboveground tanks located outside the home are usually 275-gallon tanks as well. They are usually located to the rear of the home or along side the structure.

Most oil tanks now built are made of corrosion-resistant materials. Many new aboveground tanks can be installed in small, irregular shaped spaces in basements or garages. Outside tanks can be installed and hidden in a tank enclosure.

Underground tanks:

 Underground tanks are usually larger than aboveground tanks: holding as much as 550 or 1,000 gallons of heating oil. They may be buried in the yard in various convenient locations outside the home. New and innovative technologies are enabling these tanks to gain in popularity.

Tank Construction and Safety:

There is a misconception that heating oil tank leaks are common and can cause the homeowner financial devastation. The truth is that although leaks do occur from time to time in residential tanks, they are quite rare. Now and then, a news story surfaces that sensationalize the issue with misleading perceptions.

 Most leaks can be prevented with proper maintenance or replacement of the tank in a timely manner. Studies have shown that the chance of a leak from an underground heating oil tank is less than one-quarter of 1 percent.

With that end in mind, the oil heating industry has developed a variety of tanks to ensure that heating oil is safely contained at the consumers residence. Some steel tanks are covered in composites that not only make them more attractive but also provide a second skin against leaks.

Some manufacturers produce tanks with a second bottom to ensure they will never leak .
All tanks used in the United States are built to rigorous Underwriters Laboratory (UL®) specifications.

Types of heating oil storage tanks:

 Steel Tanks: The mainstay of the industry. They have proven themselves over decades of use and are the most common for aboveground as well as underground installation.

Fiberglass Tanks: These tanks are gaining in popularity and have recently passed the UL®™ fire test and can now be installed aboveground.

Combined Tanks: Popular for decades in Europe and passed by UL® for use in the States as well, these tanks combine a plastic tank and a steel tank. The plastic tank serves as an inside liner for storing the fuel, and an outside steel jacket protects this.

Regardless of whether you are installing a system in a new home or replacing an out-of-service heating oil tank, the options are out there awaiting your decision. The heating oil industry has a solution to meet your heating needs, whatever they may be.

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Regional operating costs:

Prices in remote locations are also impacted by higher transportation costs. Operating costs of dealers can
vary substantially with location as well. State and local fees and regulations vary widely from one locale to

Surges: Drastic upshift in prices over a very short period of time caused largely by unplanned events. Some
of the conditions that initiate a surge in prices are listed below.

Refineries cannot meet unexpected demands:

Refineries do not just produce heating oil. It is but one of the byproducts of their manufacturing process.
It is not economically feasible for them to produce excessive amounts of surplus gasoline, diesel, and
other distillate products to produce heating oil for a short-term demand.

Unexpected rapid drop in temperatures:

A rapid drop in the temperature in a region can have a severe effect on supply and demand. Customers
are using more fuel oil unexpectedly and inventories are being depleted faster than they can be
replenished. Rivers and harbors may be frozen or other disruptions to the supply chain may occur.

Competition in local markets:

Areas with a limited number of suppliers may also net higher prices. This is typically true in rural or
remote areas where the competitive advantage of choosing between numerous providers is denied.

Changes in the cost of crude oil:

As the principal cost component of all fossil fuels (at 42 percent of total cost), changes in the price of
heating oil fuel are closely linked to the price refineries pay for crude oil. Price increases are complex
and intermingled with one another. Global supply and demand as well as the state of the global
economy and even the weather determine crude oil prices. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries (OPEC) and other factors also influence supply and prices as well.



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