If you area a home buyer, home owner or home seller in the Seattle area or King County and wondering if you have an old oil tank on your property, it’s always a good idea to check and have it decommissioned if not in use.
1. How do I know if there is an Oil Tank at the house?
Generally speaking – if you see a tube coming out of the ground near the home, you should start to inquire further whether or not there is an oil tank. Take a look around the current furnace or in the basement. Sometimes there is old oil piping/lines that have been cut off at some point in time to make way for an updated heating system.
You can also call a company that specializes in decommissioning oil tanks (a quick Google Search should yield you a few results) that can help determine both where an oil tank is and whether the oil tank has been decommissioned or not.
2. What does it mean to have an Oil Tank “decommissioned”?
Because oil tanks can potentially leak (and cause environmental/soil issues), it is best practice to assure that any existing tank has been emptied of any remaining oil. This is good practice for owners so that there are not any future leaks (and more expensive clean-up and reporting that may be required due to leaks) in the future.
There are a few options to earn a Decommissioning Certificate.
1) Most Common: Decommissioning typically involves pumping heating oil out of your underground storage tank and rinsing the tank. Structural foam, sand, or cement slurry is then put into the tank. The fill and vent pipes are cut off or capped. At the time of this writing, it is generally around $900-$1000 to have an oil tank decommissioned by a company.
2) Most Thorough: Complete Tank Removal. This allows a company to inspect the entire tank for leaks, check the surrounding soil, and completely remove the tank from the property so it will no longer be a worry. Cost can vary greatly depending on the extent of the excavation and location of the tank (i.e. under the house, under a deck, etc.).
3. How can I find out if the Oil Tank has been decommissioned
If you see a tube coming out of the ground, then it probably hasn’t been decommissioned yet (if it does in fact lead to an oil tank).
If the home is in King County: you can visit this website (Click Here) or call 206-296-6600 to ask if a tank has been decommissioned at a particular property. It will be helpful for you to have the address and tax parcel ID number when you call to help them quickly search for the subject property.
If the home is in Seattle: Since 1997, the city of Seattle has issued permits through the Seattle Fire Department. You can do an online search for any past permits done at a particular location (Click Here). Permits were not required prior to 1997, so make sure you investigate further if you don’t find anything on this website.