Heating Oil Tanks

“The seller does not know of a tank” does not necessarily mean it is not there.  Be alert for the possible presence of a heating oil underground storage tank (UST) if a dwelling is older than the current heating system or heating source provider. Example: if natural gas service (call PSNC) was installed years after the dwelling was built, the chances of the presence or former existence of a home heating oil tank on the property are good and should be a warning sign. Common signs of a heating oil UST on a property are fill and vent pipes sticking out of the ground.

Filling a UST in place does not remove one’s liabilities of a leaking tank nor the legal responsibility to disclose. Filling a tank only increases the structural integrity of a tank. Therefore, the financial liabilities associated with a leaking tank are not eliminated when just filling a tank.

It is required to disclose or declare ‘No Representation’ regarding the presence or former existence of a heating oil tank during sale of a residential property as per North Carolina Real Estate Commission (NCREC).

When removing a UST, evidence of a release must be reported (Form UST-61) to authorities within 24 hours according to regulations.

Evidence of a release when removing a tank can be a detection of petroleum odors, staining of soil in the excavation and laboratory data to confirm.

The absence of stains or odors on the surface near a tank does not mean anything. To determine if there was a release from a UST, the soil underneath the tank must be investigated.

Buyers Agent’s obligation is to educate a buyer of the liabilities associated with home heating oil tanks. Recommend proper investigation of tanks.

It is important for a buyer to seek a Real Estate Agent with knowledge of the liabilities associated with home heating oil tanks and other liabilities associated with buying real property.


* Notice of Residual Petroleum (NRP) – a document required attached to the deed for the property by NCDEQ regulations where the risk of exposure to contaminants is low, but the contaminant impact has not been cleaned to unrestricted use standards.  The NRP restricts use of a defined part of the property.

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