How To Prevent Heating Oil Leaks From Happening In Your Home

heating oil spillMost homeowners are filling up their home heating oil tanks since the cold season has finally arrived. Consumers are aware that this is the busiest time of year for heating oil delivery companies. It is the most important time of year for you, as a homeowner to have your tank inspected. If you are already have fuel oil delivered to your house, you might as well have the technician take a look at your heating oil system. This will guarantee that your family stays safe and warm throughout the cold season.

One of the problems that Department Of Environmental Conservation is warning homeowners who use oil heat is to look out for oil leaks. In an article published by Messenger Post Media, they discuss this in further detail:

Homeowners urged to check for home-heating oil leaks

The State Department of Environmental Conservation is asking homeowners who heat with fuel oil to check for leaks as winter approaches. According to the DEC, more than 2 million homes statewide are heated by fuel oil and each year, hundreds of fuel oil spills from home heating oil tanks get reported to the DEC Spills Hotline.
Spills have resulted in contamination of basements, groundwater, wells and soils, and expensive
cleanups that are often not covered by homeowner’s insurance.
To see the full article, click here.

This is a good example of why it is important to have your heating oil system maintained especially since it is the time of year when it needs to run at its best. Experiencing a home heating oil leak causes extreme damage to your home and the environment and it should not be considered lightly. The idea of contaminating your basement and groundwater is a big deal. Not only is it unhealthy but it is extremely expensive to clean up. Furthermore, it devalues your home.

There are also preventive measures that you, as a homeowner, can take in order to avoid an oil leak in your home. Outside of making sure that a technician maintains your heating oil system, you can make sure that you request that they check the delivery line. Make sure that it is protected. In the following article by, they discuss the importance of this:

Heating Oil Delivery Lines: A Homeowner’s Guide to Preventing Leaks

Particularly in older homes, delivery lines are buried underground, or placed within or beneath
concrete basement floors. They are generally made of copper, steel, brass or iron. When they
come in direct contact with soil or concrete and water, the resulting chemical reactions can
make them corrode and spring leaks. Delivery line breaks can also occur when there is shifting
or settling in a home’s foundation, basement floor, or the soil that supports them.

A protective sleeve is a non-metallic tube that encases the delivery line, protecting it from
corrosion and physical damage.

When home heating oil is lost through a buried delivery line, a couple of things are certain.
First the cleanup will be expensive. Second, the experience will be highly disruptive to your
family, and maybe your neighbors. Investing a small amount of money now by having your home
heating oil delivery line encased in a protective sleeve can prevent leaks, sparing you the cost
of cleanup and the potential loss of property value.

This article talks about how once the delivery line starts leaking oil it inevitably goes to the soil underneath the house and eventually to the groundwater. Furthermore, the leak can go undetected for many years. It is less expensive to have your technician maintain your heating oil system and make sure that they also check the delivery line for any potential problems. You will pay less in the end.

If you believe that you are experiencing an oil spill or leak, then there are steps that you need to take immediately before it becomes a bigger problem. Make sure that you have the appropriate telephone numbers on hand and be sure to call them right away. This can be considered an emergency situation and needs to be dealt with accordingly. In the following article, titled “Home Heating Oil Spills” by the Connecticut Department of Public Health, they discuss the steps you should take if you experience a heating oil spill or leak in your home:

Report the spill

Contact your local fire department first and let them know that you have had a spill.

Prevent an explosion or fire

Although fuel oil is a combustible liquid, the following precautions are recommended: Turn off
all flame and spark sources. Don’t smoke or light matches in the area. Keep all sources of
ignition away from the area until the spill is completely cleaned up.

Take steps to control odors

If the tank is located in your basement, open basement windows to ventilate the area. If you
have forced hot air heating, shut off the system and close the grills. Close the basement door
and cover the gap at the bottom of the door. Close other openings that may allow vapors to enter
the upper floors of your home. You should make every effort to seal off any air flow between the
spill and the inhabited areas of your home to prevent fuel odors from absorbing into clothing,
rugs and other home furnishings. You should act as quickly as possible to help lessen long-term
odor problems.

Prevent exposure

Avoid breathing the fuel oil fumes for extended periods and prevent skin contact. If you must
enter the spill area, wear rubber boots, gloves and protective eyewear. If the odor is strong in
the living area of your home, consider staying at a motel or with relatives until the cleanup is
complete. Moving out of your home for a few days may be a good idea, especially if there are
young children, elderly, or infirmed people in the home.

This section was originally found on the “Connecticut Department of Public Health” website which
can be viewed here.


By following these steps, you will be able to handle your oil leak properly. Keeping your family safe should be top priority. It is also recommended that you call your trusted heating oil immediately if you suspect that you have an oil leak. Be sure to be aware of regular maintenance of your heating oil system to ensure that you don’t have to deal with an oil leak in your home.

R.F. Ohl specializes in the maintenance of all heating oil systems. We can answer any questions that you might have on your system and we will guarantee that your system is running at its best. We service Carbon County, Monroe County, Lehigh County, Northampton County, and Schuylkill County. Keep warm this winter by calling us and speaking with a live representative 24/7.

Contact us today or give us a call at (610) 377-1098 if you have any questions.