It feels like summer has just arrived, but fall is well on its way. Heating companies usually get inundated with phone calls when the first week of cold weather arrives, so it’s best if you don’t delay any projects around your home that are related to your heating system. Many of you that do not have access to a natural gas supply line in rural areas use oil as the fuel to heat your home. Those dated oil tanks mounted alongside or inside thousands of homes in Western Canada are becoming a thing of the past!
Three main factors have contributed to their demise.
First, many steel furnace oil tanks currently in use have been in place for many years, sometimes decades. Their exterior surfaces may have become corroded and in disrepair. Even more importantly, the interior surfaces – those places you can’t see, can also be badly corroded. Interior corrosion can become a recipe for disaster!
Obviously, exterior steel surfaces begin to rapidly corrode in our wet, humid west coast environment when paint is nicked or damaged, but how does the interior of the tank corrode? Condensation forms on inside surfaces of steel tanks which, over time, begins to accumulate at the bottom of the tank – even if it is inside the home! A unique and very acidic microbial growth forms where the fuel and water meet which in turn begins to eat away at the interior surface of the tank. Newer, clean burning, low sulphur and bio-heating fuels add even more acidity. There is no known way to prevent this corrosion.
Second, home insurers are now very aware of the significance of furnace oil tanks that are in poor condition. There have been far too many examples of steel tanks that “let go” and spill their contents – a very ugly and expensive mess to clean up. Many insurers now require all furnace oil tanks – despite their outward appearance, be replaced every 10 years. Many more insurers require that all tanks be moved outdoors. These steps have been taken because of the actual and perceived insurance risk associated with steel furnace oil tanks. The manufacture date that is usually indicated on the Specification Plate mounted on the tank is the best way to determine how old the tank is. If your tank doesn’t have one of these little plates, then the tank is probably greater than 10 years old!
Third, as in all parts of our lives, technology changes and improves! New tank technology has resulted in the development of non-metallic furnace oil tanks that will never corrode! Many provincial governments are supporting the migration from steel to non-metallic tanks including PEI, Nunavut, the Yukon and Northwest Territories. As well, major oil companies are adopting the non-metallic tank options as they virtually eliminate the risk of leaks due to corrosion. In response, some steel tank manufacturers have introduced a “second bottom” to their tanks to extend the lifespan - but these tanks remain subject to corrosion and insurance difficulties – without question, steel furnace oil tanks are becoming obsolete. Strong, lightweight fibreglass tanks manufactured in Canada are now available. Fibreglass furnace oil tanks eliminate corrosion and insurance concerns and provide that “peace of mind” we all seek. “Best in class” fibreglass tanks also carry warranties and insurance that provide 30 years of protection and up to $5.0 million environmental protection. Strong warranty and insurance protection even allow homeowners to lease tanks instead of actually purchasing them – a very cost-effective upgrade solution – check with your local heating oil supplier.
This article was published in the Sunday August 12th edition of the Province Newspaper www.theprovince.com