Oil Tank installation has a series of regulations that must be followed for reasons of safety and functionality. The regulations ensure that both you and your home are protected from fire hazards, and prevents the threat of oil spillages causing needless damage to the environment. It is your legal responsibility to annually check that your oil tank is in accordance with these vital regulations. And insurance can help massively here - insurance companies have very strict terms for oil tank incidents due to the clean-up costs being so expensive. From the specifics of the oil tank and oil heating-based regulations to why these rules must be followed, read on to find out everything you need to know about oil tank installation.
The Types Of Oil Tanks
Before delving into the nitty gritty of oil tank installation regulations, first, it is important to understand what different types of oil tanks are available on the market in an effort to understand how they work and which type would suit your property best.
These tanks are of an older style and are mostly made of steel. If this oil tank installation is located near a waterway, they need to have a secondary “bund” which prevents the risk of polluting the water. For single-skin tanks, this “bund” is usually made of reinforced concrete.
Integrally bundled tanks are the most common modern domestic tanks available for installation. The term refers to how the outer containment forms part of the tank construction, removing the need for any masonry or other containment.
This is mostly used for underground and commercial oil tank installations.
Whilst it is possible to fit a single-skin or even double-bunded oil tank, most new domestic tanks are integrally bunded. This is because it is straightforward to install and the tank’s “bundling” reduces any risk of non-compliance with a nearby water source.
If you’re undertaking oil tank installation, remember to check your local authority’s building regulations, as according to the government you’ll need planning permission if:
● Your tank is located in front of the main elevation fronting a highway
● The height is more than 3 metres (or 2.5 metres if its within 2 metres of a boundary)
● Additions or other buildings cover more than half of the area surrounding the original house
If your oil tank installation is taking place on a listed property, planning permission will be required, and contacting the local authorities will be a good idea, just as a precaution to confirm that the regulations haven’t changed recently.
The regulations for the design and construction of the oil tank are currently as follows:
● The oil tank must have a protective fire guard if it is located above ground.
● The oil tank must have extra protection from spillage and leakages if groundwater is nearby.
● For reasons of safety, a fire valve must be fitted where the pipe will enter the building
Whilst this is oriented around the design and construction of the oil heating tank, the base itself needs to be installed carefully, with ample consideration towards the regulations.
Base Installation Regulations
Not including the weight of the tank, fuel oil weighs one tonne per 1,000 litres, and domestic oil tanks can hold up to 3,500 litres, thus weighing 3.5 tonnes. Whatever the ground conditions, you need a base which will support this weight. If not, the tank could suffer leakages, cause environmental damage, as well as damage to your tank or pipes which can lead to costly repairs.
The oil tank’s base must be impenetrable in order to prevent leakages which can contaminate the soil and should be a fireproof material (i.e. concrete, paving slabs or stonework). The compact and blinded base should be set on a level bed and must be 50mm thick if using paving slabs or 100mm thick if using concrete.
The base should also extend 300mm around the perimeter of the oil tank to prevent the tank from becoming overgrown and spreading fire across the ground into the tank.
Where you place the base is vital for the safety of the oil tank installation and the risk of fire spreading from the tank to nearby structures must be heavily minimised. The external siting requirements mean that the base must be:
● 760mm away from any boundaries
● 1.8 metres away from a building or structure, openings such as doors or windows, and the oil boiler’s flue terminal
● 50 metres away from a spring, well or borehole
● 10 metres away from a water course
● Not in areas where oil spills could enter drains, manholes, or pollute ground water
● Not in areas where that is at a risk of flooding
If you require an indoor oil tank installation, the internal siting requirements vary. To have it installed inside a building, the tank must be under 3,500 litres and be contained in a one-hour fire resistant chamber. What's more, the building must be vented, the tank should be the only thing in the building and should be fitted at the lowest possible point.
The Responsibilities Of Having An Oil Tank
If you store oil on your property, you have a responsibility to ensure the substance won’t be released into the environment, as you are directly liable for the clean-up costs of spills or any consequential damage. Oil tanks and spills are usually covered under your home insurance but only have limited terms. If there is theft or an accident, home insurers will happily cover the loss of oil, but won’t do the same if oil is lost through the tank’s wear or gradual leakage. Because of this, it is a good idea to keep the tank in good condition, as oil spill clean-up costs are covered in rare circumstances.
You can take out a specialist Oil Spill policy if you’d like more comprehensive insurance coverage. Whilst this widens the range of claims available to you, it requires the annual inspection of your oil heating tank by an Oftec engineer. If there is an issue, any recommended works must be carried out within 60 days. It is worth noting that replacing your oil tank can often cost less in the long run than consistently repairing a faulty tank.
Protecting An Oil Tank From Theft
If you’re concerned about oil being stolen from your oil tank, you can check that your home contents insurance covers oil theft. If this isn’t the case, there are some good further measures to take in order to prevent oil theft. You can lock the tank with an inspection cover or lockable filler cap and install an electronic sensor to recognise sudden drops in oil levels - this can even be monitored via your phone.
Simpler steps you can take to theft prevention include ensuring you can see the oil tank clearly from your property and screening the tank from public view via fencing.
Why The Regulations Are In Place
Oil is an incredibly flammable substance and highly dangerous if not stored correctly, potentially harming you, your property, and the surrounding area. Whilst a fire starting in a fuel tank isn’t very likely, it is very important that the risk is minimized, and having a properly installed oil tank can help massively in stopping spillages. Leaked oil, even from privately-owned oil heating tanks can be devastating to the natural environment. It can kill grass and other vegetation, and is especially dangerous around water sources, infecting rivers and streams and potential drinking water.
Following oil tank regulations can also save you money in the long run, as having a properly installed oil tank will ensure that costly modifications aren’t necessary.
Oil Tank Installation Service
If you’re worried about not being in accordance with the oil tank installation regulations, you might need a new or replacement oil tank. This is where Gastech Heating & Plumbing can help! We are a Which? trusted trader and are registered with Oftec, a testament to our safe, reliable, and efficient oil tank installation service.
With complicated regulations and rules to follow, we are experts at smoothly delivering oil heating jobs, oil tank installation, boiler and plumbing services, as well as other central heating services to make your home more comfortable.