Results 1 to 13 of 13
  1. #1
    We've just signed a contract on a house with a 50+ year old boiler and 50 year old underground oil tank. The house currently uses oil heat as a backup to the heat pump. The seller says he has to manually flip the switch on the boiler to turn the oil heat on when it gets to 32 degrees.

    The oil tank inspection found a suspected petroleum release (borderline oil contamination and about 1 inch of water in the tank.) The company who inspected the tank is now required to report this to the Department of Environmental Quality who may require the seller to remove the oil tank from service.

    The house inspector says the heating system should be rewired so it doesn't require manual intervention to switch to oil heat when it gets cold, and the boiler should be serviced. ($200) The house has 150 amp service with a couple of what he called "double taps" in the electrical panel - said he questioned whether 150 amps was enough. On inspection, they also found cracks and moisture damage in the furnace flue liner, failing parged morter within the smoke chamber. He basically said the furnace flue needed to be relined and pipe replaced ($2,000 plus for repairs/permits/etc.)

    What would you recommend repairing all of this and replacing the underground tank with an above ground tank? Or just taking it all out of service and using heat strips or gas as backup. The house already has two gas fireplaces.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Well 50+ years the boiler is ready for retirement. The water problem with the tank is only going to get worse. Get rid of all of it and put in a modern dual fuel system and a new above ground tank or if not get rid of the boiler all together and pump out that tank. jmo

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    If you've already got gas
    ...a heatpump with gas backup IMO. As far as the "doubletaps", replace them with piggy-back breakers. 150 amps is quite a bit unless your home is huge.
    If everything was always done "by the book"....the book would never change.

  4. #4
    well im not sure where you are at but i just went through this same senario with my house just 2 mos ago. that oil tank will have to come out,(be sure that current h.o pays for that, my mortgage company would not close until the DEQ
    cleared it, due to future liability issues.) im going to repipe my basement for radiant floor heat, with heat pump and h.w coils as back up with a G215 Buderus oil boiler with
    storage tank for domestic h.w

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    new jersey
    dont make the oil tank your problem.they the seller most address this issue

  6. #6
    sorry i didnt make my self clear, thats what i mnt by current home owner.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Originally posted by coolmen
    dont make the oil tank your problem.they the seller most address this issue
    IF he got a properly worded contract, if not...

    In Oregon, as an example, there were so many lawsuit and dispute on buried oil tank the state made law to require the seller fix the problem.

    I wouldn't close the deal UNTIL the problem is fixed (the buried tank). Without actually digging out the tank you don't know how bad the leak is and you might be on the hook for the whole thing.

    I could not even get home insurance until I proved the tank is no longer there (removed years ago) when I bought a house. The insurance agent told me he had a 7 figure insurace claim on a leaked tank once (oil got to a lake).

  8. #8
    It's my understanding that the seller signed a waiver allowing me to do the oil tank inspection, and agreeing that it was his responsibility for the oil tank. In Virginia, there is a fund that requires a $500 fee to join, and the fund picks up the rest of the cost. However, it's up to the Virginia DEQ to decide what they're going to reqruire the seller to do ... and it may be as little as pumping out the contents, capping it and taking it out of service. They don't require filling with inert material or removal any more.

    But insurance is an issue. I've heard that many insurance companies won't even insure the house until the tank is removed. I've also heard that the attorney won't even close until the DEQ is satisfied that what they require has been done.

    I have until today to decide what I want to ask the seller to do based on my inspections. Should I ask them to replace the tank with an above ground tank, repair the cracked flue and rewire the thermostat to continue using the present "oil heat backup" to heat pump that the house has. Or should we ask for a credit and install some other method of backup heat?

    I've always heated with oil or gas so I don't understand about the current heat pump system needing backup heat. What is the best backup heat and is it required??

    Thanks for all your help ... not getting much sleep.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    You are in VA i would imagine a normal heat pump would work fine by itself with normal heat strips as back up. I know up here in central PA I use my heat pump as my sole source of heat and have never been uncomfterble aswell as having $130 as my most expensive electric bill!!!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    You mentioned boiler and furnace. This is a oil hot air system or do you have radiators and or baseboard heat?

    I would checkout any up comming rate increases for your area. Some have said they expect electric rates to go up 40-70% this year! I wouldn't put all my eggs in a heat pump.

    SInce you're getting rid of the in ground tank, I would just see the cost difference of converting to gas or putting an oil tank in the basement. Gas would allow you to direct vent and not need to fix the chimney, unless you had a gas HW heater.

  11. #11
    steerytoon where in va are you, im in the richmond area and could give you some info for people that do testing and removal of old tanks. the guys that did my removal were great and and i could not tell they were even here(except for were the grass is missing at the spot of the old tank).

  12. #12

    Oil Tank

    Well, the Department of Environmental Quality told us today that they are making the site a "Category One", which means the underground oil tank has to be taken out of service (pumped, capped and abandoned.)

    It sounds from your helpful replies that we should look into replacing the oil backup heat with (1) a "gas boiler with direct vent" or (2) using heat strips as backup to the heat pump?? Then we wouldn't have to make the $2,000 worth of furnace flue repairs, we can get rid of the 50 year old boiler and we won't have to install an above ground oil tank in our yard?? (There is no way to have the tank in the basement or garage based on how it was renovated.)

    I live in Henrico County (Richmond, VA) area, so it does get really cold occasionally (but we've had pretty mild winters recently.) Which is preferable - gas or heat strips? I will continue trying to educate myself about heating systems. People keep telling me that "dual heating" systems are preferable to heat pump with heat strips ... is that true?

    As I understand it, the seller has to properly "abandon" the site, but doesn't have to comply with our request to either fill the tank with sand/concrete or have it removed. I hear that tanks sometimes collapse over time, and it is pretty close to our foundation and also close to the brick columns that support a second floor addition. Does anybody have any experience with abandoned tanks that are left empty? I don't want the thing to cave in and cause damage.

    Thanks for all your help. I'm sorry I had to check out for two days.


  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    If you really like the home, go through the trouble of,first getting the owner to get rid of the oil tank. second, be prepaired to invest the money to replace the boiler. stay with the oil. it wont be long till bio-diesol is available(so they say)and radiation heat is great for comfort. I would also keep the heat pump. You have a unique oppurtunity to take advantage of a dual fuel system with two types of heating available. Run the boiler at a constant low-fire till outside temp. gets low(32 is not low for a heat pump)more like 15. then have your boiler go into hi-fire. everything from say about 20 and up will be heat pump. otherwise i'd say dont buy the house.

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