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FAQ: Home Heating Oil Tanks

The Home Heating Oil Tanks -Regulatory Guide (Prepared by the Office of the Environmental Assistance Center) can be accessed and printed from the noted link and can also be obtained by contacting the Office of the Environmental Assistance Center at 800-662-9278.

The most common question asked is "What do I do with a home heating oil tank, that is no longer used or has been found abandoned on my property?" The answer to this question is given below and it covers only HOME heating oil tanks. Businesses and commercial establishments with fuel tanks should contact the Storage Tank Division for their tank closure and disposal requirements.


Aboveground and underground residential heating oil tanks are regulated under the Flammable and Combustible Liquids (FL/CL) Rules, Part 4, 2003, AACS R29.5101 et seq., which were promulgated under the authority of the Michigan Fire Prevention Code, 1941 PA 207, as amended.

Homeowners have the option of either doing the work themselves or hiring an environmental consultant to do the work of removing or closing the underground storage tanks or aboveground storage tanks. In the yellow pages of the telephone book under "Environmental and Ecological Services" are listed environmental consultants who can arrange the entire job of removing, cleaning, and disposing of the tank. The costs for such a project range widely, so the best solution is to call several consultants for estimates. By hiring an environmental consultant, the homeowner saves time and can hire an experienced consultant who does tank work routinely. Also, in the event that contamination has occurred as a result of leaking heating oil, the environmental consultant can advise the homeowner regarding the contamination.

The following steps are required for either underground or aboveground storage tanks that have been out of service for more than 12 months or will not be used again:

  • Empty the tank, and empty and cap pipes. Many homeowners have the heating oil company from which they purchased the oil, also pump the tank.

  • Have the tank professionally cleaned before removal. There are usually tank cleaning firms listed in the yellow pages of most telephone books under "tank cleaning" and "environmental and ecological services."

  • Contact the local authorities to see if any permits are required for tank excavating.

  • Remove the pipes and tank unless removing them would threaten the structural integrity of a nearby building. If the underground storage tank cannot be removed, it must be filled with an inert material (sand, gravel, or cement) before closing in place. Aboveground storage tanks can be left in place if the tank is safeguarded against trespassing and the filling portals locked to prevent trespassing.

  • Heating oil tanks located in basements must have the fill pipe "blind flanged" (a solid disk inserted at a pipe joint) to prevent the heating oil from being mistakenly pumped into the basement if the tank was removed.

  • A site assessment must be performed in accordance with Section 2.6.5 of Part 2 of the FL/CL Rules for underground heating oil tanks of 1,100 gallons or more.  A site assessment is recommended for tanks less than 1,100 gallons.

  • Dispose of the tank properly. Preferably, the tank should be taken to a salvage yard for recycling. Contact the local salvage yard for more information. If a salvage yard is not available, contact the local landfill for more information.

With both underground and aboveground storage tanks, if it appears a release of product occurred (dark stains in the soil, soils that smell oily or like gas, an oily sheen on water in the excavation), it is recommended that the homeowner or their designated representative report the release to the Remediation and Redevelopment Division. Moreover, if the release exceeds certain volume amounts known as reportable quantities (RQ), the owner is required to report the release within 24 hours from the time the release was discovered. Information on "reportable quantities" can be found at To assure compliance with all applicable regulations, it is highly recommended that the release be reported to the appropriate EGLE, Remediation and Redevelopment Division district office regardless of the quantity released. The EnvironmentalAssistance Center, 800-662-9278, can identify the appropriate district office and phone number.