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We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

   The bad news about an old in-ground fuel oil tank is that it may have been abandoned while still holding oil, and the subsequent rust-through of the tank shell would allow contamination of the soil in the immediate area. Also, even an empty tank represents a risk: when it eventually rusts-through and structurally fails, the soil will collapse in around it. We recommend that you ask the seller for documentation that the tank has been properly decommissioned, or removal of the tank and testing of soil by a qualified professional service.

   Good news is that residential oil tanks are not governed by Federal or Florida  environmental protection agencies. Their statutes cover commercial tanks only. So there is no bureaucracy to deal with, unless a significant contamination is found.

   In Gainesville and Alachua County, however, the local Department of Environmental Protection offers free testing of abandoned residential fuel oil tanks to determine if they still contain any oil. Also, if oil still remains in a tank, they will remove and recycle it at no charge to the homeowner. You can call Tim Ramsey, at Alachua County Department of Environmental Protection, (352) 264-6800, extension 6843, for more information on the program. Tim says that you must first sign a form that allows county employees to enter your property before they can provide the service.

   Alachua County’s homeowner program does not determine if any contamination of the soil has occurred and does not safely decommission the tank by cleaning and filling it with sand, or removing it.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.

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