Professional home inspectors recommend abandoning any buried oil tank as soon as you stop using it for heating. If you leave the tank, it could leak.

Abandonment requires a reputable company to remove all oil and oil sludge, clean the tank and fill it in place with sand or pea gravel. This process should be overseen and approved by a geotechnical or structural engineer.

Regulatory Requirements

Years ago, many homes had oil tanks buried underground. These tanks can leak, contaminating the soil and groundwater. To avoid this, it is vital to have your tank correctly abandoned. A professional will clean the tank and fill it with inert material. It will protect your property from contamination and help you comply with environmental regulations.

The tank must also be capped. Lastly, the breather tube and fill pipe must be disconnected. Depending on your location, it may be difficult to remove a buried tank. It is why an oil tank abandonment Westchester County NY, place process can be an alternative.

However, this method could be better. A local permit may document that the tank was filled in place, but it does not certify that the soil around the tank was tested and found to be contamination-free. When the property is sold, it can be a problem for buyers, their attorneys, and insurance companies. To be safe, always have an unused buried oil tank removed or abandoned and test the soil before buying a home.

Insurance Requirements

Most lenders and home buyers want documentation that the tank has been properly abandoned. It includes having the buried oil tank piping disconnected from the furnace/heat pump, the fill pipe cut below grade and filled with cement, and all vent pipes removed and backfilled.

Many people had their tanks abandoned when they switched to natural gas or because they were located where it would be costly and dangerous to remove them (such as by pools, decks, or garages). In this case, soil samples are taken after the tank is decommissioned to certify that it has not leaked into the ground.

Suppose an old leaking oil tank is discovered. In that case, it can be very costly to remediate the contamination, so mortgage companies are increasingly wary of lending to homeowners who have these buried tanks on their properties. Buyers and real estate agents are also hesitant to purchase properties that do not have this documentation.

Environmental Impact

A leaking tank is an environmental hazard that can damage the soil, water supply and kill local wildlife. It can also cost thousands of dollars to clean up.

An oil tank that has been abandoned in place must be drained appropriately, cleaned, and filled. A professional excavation and environmental company can do this safely and without damaging the surrounding land.

During the abandonment process, the tank is pumped out and cleaned, then filled in place with a non-shrinking material such as sand or foam. It is done to ensure that the tank cannot leak in the future. The tank should be visually inspected to confirm that no holes have formed in the rusty steel structure.

Unfortunately, many homeowners that had buried tanks in the past did not have them inspected and had them abandoned in place without backfilling them or testing for leaks. It can be a severe problem for a new owner as getting insurance companies to cover contamination caused by an untested tank that leaks is complicated.


Whether removing or abandoning an oil tank, it’s crucial to ensure that soil testing is completed. It is because leaking oil tanks are costly to clean up and can cause pollution that can get into the environment, sewage systems, storm drains, or even your local water supply.

Savvy homebuyers will test the soil around an abandoned buried oil tank as part of their due diligence when purchasing a property. If you have yet to have your tank properly abandoned and a soil test reveals contamination, you will be responsible for the cleanup.

If you have an old leaking or abandoned buried oil tank, the best thing to do is to abandon it by disconnecting the piping from your furnace/heat pump, cutting the fill pipe below grade, and capping it with concrete. It is the proper way to abandon an underground oil tank and will help you avoid having a leaking buried oil tank that can derail a real estate transaction.