Oil tanks don't last forever. The life expectancy of an underground storage tank made of steel is 10-15 years but many factors may affect this prediction. The variables may include, but not limited to: the quality and thickness of the steel, stray electrical current, elevated water table, ph of the soil and so on.
Even if you don’t suspect a problem with your tank, you still may want to be proactive and remove and replace your underground storage tank. A leaking oil tank contamination cleanup can be costly and may affect your real estate transactions. Aboveground storage tanks are not exposed to the similar conditions as underground storage tanks, but they too can corrode prematurely and potentially leak. The things to look out for is rust or metal flaking, wet spots on or directly beneath the tank, and/or oil odors.
Truthfully, there is not a mechanism for inspecting residential underground oil tanks that is accurate or worth the expense. Home owners typically remove and replace the tank, or remove and change fuel source (natural gas/propane) because of a real estate transfer, insurance carrier requiring it/pollution exclusion and potential cost exposure if the tank leaks.
If there is a sudden increase in your heating costs, if you smell oil on your property, or if you start seeing dead vegetation around your underground tank, most likely a leak is present. Calling a professional to assess the situation can help you find the right course of action.
If a leak occurs, it can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Removing the tank will destroy that area of your yard and any contamination will have to be cleaned by professionals. Preventing a leak by acting proactively can save your property and checkbook!