For information, contact the UST Management Division, (803) 898-2544
Home Heating Oil Tanks
Home heating oil tanks are not regulated by DHEC’s Underground Storage Tank Control Regulation (R.61-92).
Home heating oil tanks are used to store oil for on-premises consumption.They may be installed above ground or buried underground. Today, many homes have switched from oil to natural gas or electricity for heating. When this happens, the homeowner may not know what to do with the tank and any unused oil.
A possible concern with home heating oil tanks and piping is that they may leak oil into the environment. Also, if underground tanks are not properly abandoned, they may eventually rust through, resulting in a potential cave-in and collapse.
Below are a few frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs) about home heating oil tanks. To see more FAQs, click here.
- What if a tank is found on a property I am thinking of buying? If you are buying a home, the seller is generally required by the South Carolina Residential Property Condition Disclosure Act to disclose the presence of underground storage tanks. However, an experienced home inspector may find a tank that the current owner did not know was there. If a tank is found on the property, consider working with the current property owner to have the tank inspected, removed, or properly abandoned in place. You could hire a contractor or environmental consultant to do this work.
- What does DHEC recommend for a tank that is no longer being used? Have all fluids removed from the tank, including any oil or water that has accumulated. A list of companies that can pump out tank contents and properly manage them is available. Small amounts of oil can be recycled at local used oil collection sites, such as recycling convenience centers. Larger amounts of oil will require a company that will be able to pick the oil up from your home. (See The Sustainability Index for a list of companies that offer an oil pick-up service. If you need more assistance with the recycling of oil, call DHEC’s Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling at 1-800-768-7348.) The tank can be removed from the ground and hauled off by a tank removal service. Consider having the soil under the tank tested if you notice staining or detect the presence of oil. If drinking water in your area comes from private wells, you also may want to have groundwater tested. If the tank is going to be left in place, it should be cleaned out and filled with a substance such as sand, concrete or inert foam.
- What if I find a leak? If you find a leak, please call DHEC at 1-888-481-0125 or 803-898-2000. You also can contact an environmental professional who has experience responding to fuel spills. Any fluids remaining in the tank should be pumped out to prevent further spillage. If the tank is being removed, grossly contaminated soil should be removed, too to limit the movement of oil to groundwater. This is especially important if there are any drinking water wells nearby.
- What if I do nothing with my tank? If a tank is left in place, it could eventually rust through and release its contents. Contamination of soil, groundwater, and even nearby surface water is possible. If there are drinking water wells in your area, they could become contaminated. Vapors may also accumulate in basements or crawl spaces. An empty tank may eventually rust through and collapse, causing a sinkhole.
- How can home heating oil affect my health? Information about possible health effects from exposure to fuel oils is available from The Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry.
To report a leak, call DHEC’s Emergency Response Hot Line at 1-888-481-0125. For help finding a company to recycle the oil, call DHEC’s Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling at 1-800-768-7348.
A heating oil tank fact sheet also is available. For more information about home heating oil tanks, call (803) 898-2544.
For more information please contact the Bureau of Land & Waste Management at (803) 898-2000 or visit our offices (note new location).