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If you rely on an oil boiler to heat your home, you’ll no doubt want to keep your oil tank in good condition. Fortunately, these pieces of kit are built to last. In fact, 55 per cent of UK heating oil tanks are at least 10 years old. However, they do need to be properly maintained to keep them in working order and to prevent leaks, especially as they get older.

A leaky tank can hit you in the pocket – and it can also be bad news for the environment. As specialist fuel suppliers Heating Oil point out, when oil leaks there is a risk of water contamination and soil pollution. There’s even a danger of fire and explosions.

So, what can you do to make your tank last longer? Here are three tips that should help you to keep this essential home heating component going strong for as long as possible.

  1. Make sure it’s installed correctly

Firstly, when you’re having a new oil tank installed, make sure it’s done properly. By putting the tank in the right place and ensuring it’s fitted by an expert, you can avoid a whole host of potential problems that could shorten its lifespan. The tank should be situated on a level, solid surface away from water courses. It should also be kept clear of vegetation, and ideally it should be sheltered from strong winds and possible falling debris.

Make sure that your tank is fitted by an OFTEC registered tank installation engineer too.

  1. Look out for signs of damage

Heating oil tanks are usually made from plastic or fabricated steel, and they can start to show signs of wear after a while. By keeping an eye out for any damage and acting quickly if you spot potential issues, you can prevent problems from getting worse. Look out for any deep scratches, dents, bulges or cracks in the tank, as well as rust or discolouration. Check for oil that may have leaked out too, paying particular attention to the areas around valves, seams and pipes.

Keep tabs on external protection such as bunds too. A design feature of some tanks, bunds are an outer case that the main tank sits inside. Make sure any protection like this is free from oil, rubbish, weeds and water.

You should also keep gauges, access points and vents closed and shielded from rainwater, insects and dirt, and ensure that all alarms and gauges are working properly. Another tip is to ensure that your tank is only filled to a maximum of around 80 to 90 per cent capacity.

If you spot a problem with a tank, call in an OFTEC registered heating engineer to take a look.

  1. Get it checked by a professional at least once a year

For safety and to help maintain your tank, you should get it checked over by a heating engineer at least once a year. You can arrange to have your tank checked as part of your annual boiler service, and many people find that this is a convenient solution.

However, some manufacturers recommend six-monthly tank checks, so it’s worth referring to your manual just in case.

Even if you follow this advice and take good care of your tank, it won’t last forever. If yours is over 10 years old, it may be time to get a new one. You can ask your heating engineer for advice on this. And if you ever spot a leak, make sure take action immediately. You should collect any dripping oil in a bucket or tray and report the incident directly to the Environment Agency.

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