Buyers Beware-- Oil Tanks Abound Underground! by Geraldine Santiago

Buyers Beware--Oil Tanks Abound Underground! by Geraldine Santiago

Realtor and Author


Many underground oil storage tanks in Canada have reached the end of their useful lives and are beginning to corrode, rust, and leak.  Leaking fuel oil tanks may create several hazards.  Oil and its varpours can--


  • generate a potentiall explosive mixture
  • enter surface water
  • enter drinking water
  • contaminate surrounding (your neighbour’s) soil and property


For a first time home buyer, who would think of searching for an underground oil tank?  It is difficult to know whether or not a property has an oil tank in the back, especially if the oil tank is buried underground! There are some signs such as a long pipe found in the exterior of a home, or there may be a small pipe sticking out from the ground. Oil tanks can be burried in the back of the house, or the front of the house, there coul be one, two or even three of them on a property. They have been known to leak and contaminate neighbouring properties or even the property you are purchasing!


Most provinces and territories currently have safety standards for oil tanks.  If you suspect the home you are purchasing may have an oil tank, check with your REALTOR, and make sure you hire a home inspector who inspects the entire property.  Make your concerns known to the home inspector to watch out for oil tanks as there may even be more than one oil tank located on the property.  Look at the age of the house, and find out as much as you can from the previous owners.  Check the property condition disclosure statement (PCDS) as well as this is now included in some disclosure statements in Canada.


If the property you are purchasing has an oil tank, make sure that the sellers are responsible for the removal, clean up and disposal of the oil tank as this is a cost you don’t want to incur. As a buyer, make sure you receive documentation such as a certificate from the oil tank removal company and pictures of the removal and disposal so that when it is your turn to sell your property, all the documentation will be in order for a clean sale.


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