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If you’re considering an oil-burning heating system for your Mid-Atlantic area home, one of the first questions you’ll have to answer is whether to install the oil tank outside or inside. The indoor vs. outdoor tank dilemma doesn’t have to be difficult, however. Most experts say there’s no competition. You’re usually better off with an indoor tank than an outdoor one if you’re considering home oil tank options.

outdoor oil tank

Disadvantages of Outdoor Oil Tanks

• With the major temperature swings outside, outside tanks are prone to condensation inside the tank. This can create service problems during the winter and allow for eventual rusting and corrosion inside the tank. This can also lead to leakage, which can require intensive and expensive cleanup measures.

• These tanks are typically installed beside the house, which means that any water or ice dripping from the eaves or gutter can fall on oil lines, potentially damaging them.

• Over time, outdoor tanks can settle into the ground, becoming uneven and unstable.

• If you have an outdoor tank in a cold-winter climate, anti-gel additives and other solutions will be needed to keep the oil from turning into gunk (“gelling”) during cold weather.

Benefits of Indoor Oil Tanks

• As mentioned, indoor tanks aren’t exposed to the various hazards related to being exposed to the elements — one of the main factors in deciding the indoor vs. outdoor tank question. This means improved performance and less maintenance.

• Indoor tanks aren’t exposed to potential vandalism and accidental damage. Frozen oil lines are also something that’s not going to happen with an indoor tank.

• You shouldn’t have to worry about oily smells from your indoor tank if it has been professionally installed. But if issues with the tank such as internal corrosion do begin to happen, the resulting smell will more quickly alert you to the problem. Consider the fact that early detection can make the difference between a simple and affordable repair and one that will cost thousands of dollars to clean up and mitigate the environment.

Recommendations for Indoor Tanks

• Make sure the indoor oil tank is at least five feet from any combustion appliance. Check with your local municipality to make sure they don’t have stricter requirements.

• The tank should be installed in a spot where everyday household activities won’t bother it. As with any heating system component, it should be out of the way but easy to access when necessary.

• The tank should be placed someplace where it can be visually inspected from all vantage points. Keep recommended clearance distances from any walls or other objects.

• If you’re installing the oil tank in a garage, make sure it’s protected from motor vehicles.

• When possible, make sure a drip tray, also called a release barrier, is installed below any single-walled tank, oil line fitting or filter. This is an essential safety component to contain potential spills.

• If you have any floor drains or conduits to remove water and other liquids near the oil tank, seal them up, to prevent spills from spreading outside the immediate area.

Recommendations for Outdoor Tanks

• The outdoor tank should have proper base support to avoid shifting and settling. You don’t want an unsteady tank to eventually fall over. Ideally, the support legs for the oil tank should rest on a concrete pad or reinforced patio tiles. The platform should drain away from the house.

• The oil tank should be downhill from any outside water source and shouldn’t block any household entrances or windows.
• The tank shouldn’t be flush up against the building. When this happens, leaves, sticks and other objects can get stuck between the tank and the house, allowing external rusting.

• The tank shouldn’t touch any leaves or grass, which can create moisture that can lead to corrosion in the tank.

• Don’t install the oil tank underneath your home’s eaves or rain gutters, where ice, snow or icicles might fall on the tank and damage the tank over time.

No matter which way you lean in the indoor vs. outdoor tank question, avoid buying a used tank. The tank was removed from its original location for a reason, and that could be because it was leaking or considered too old to be effective. You’re just asking for trouble with a refurbished tank.
For more help solving the indoor vs. outdoor tank dilemma in your Maryland home, please contact us at Griffith Energy Services, Inc. We proudly serve the Mid-Atlantic region.

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