How to Install a New Oil Tank Safely

How to Install a New Oil Tank Safely

If you’re replacing your oil tank, or if you’re about to start using oil to heat your home and you’re using a tank for the first time, you need to think not only about how to get cheap home heating oil, but also about complying with the law, and the practicalities of having a tank in your garden.

These are the things you need to consider:

  • where the tank will go;
  • what type of tank you need;
  • access for the delivery driver and for you;
  • installing the tank properly to keep its warranty and reduce the fire risk;
  • removing the old tank and its pipes, and
  • your insurer’s stipulations.

Make sure you use a competent tank installation company – they will know all about the legislation and how to comply with it. They’ll also inspect your garden, looking for water bodies, boreholes, loose manhole covers and so on. These features will affect where you can place the tank safely and it’s worth paying more for a well-respected installation service because it’ll save money down the line.

Where you put the tank is important

If you have an oil spill or leak, you might not find out until it’s too late, especially if the tank is underground. The effects on your health and the environment can be severe, so you must be careful about the installation.

Install the tank outside, above ground if possible, and use a secondary containment system to contain spills. Place it where it’s visible from a room you use frequently so you can keep an eye on it – thefts are growing more common. Avoid underground tanks if possible, but if it’s your only option, call your local environmental advice agency to find out how to do things safely. You also need to check if you’re in a flood zone, as floods can damage tanks.

What sort of tank should you get?

Above-ground tanks

Choose a tank that’s been made to British, European or other industry standards as this shows it’s been made and tested under strict guidelines. The tank should also be marked with its maximum capacity, and new tanks should also display information telling you what to do if there’s a leak.

Underground domestic tanks

You should only use a tank that’s specially designed for underground use – as the tank empties, the ground exerts pressure on it so it should be able to withstand this. Each tank manufacturer will have specific guidelines, but generally, you’ll need the tank to be at least two meters away from areas of vehicle movement or parking.


You and your delivery driver will need to access the tank regularly, so you need at least two feet of clearance around three sides of the tank and at least two meters clearance on the side next to any buildings. Think about:

  • having enough room so you can inspect it all round, as well as fill it;
  • making sure the fill point is easily accessible for both driver and the hose.
  • where the tanker can park. Your delivery company can advise you more on this.

Get the basics right

Building regulations dictate that oil tanks must be on a stable base that extends at least 300mm beyond the widest point of the tank. This base can be made from 100mm-thick concrete or 50mm paving slabs. This base must also be placed on solid foundations so you’re getting it right from the ground up.


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