Government of Nova Scotia Government of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia, Canada


Petroleum Storage

Domestic Oil Tanks

Domestic Oil Tank Systems

Many Nova Scotians enjoy the comfort and convenience of oil heat in their homes, but few people think about the possible problems of storing heating fuel on their property. This web page has been developed to assist homeowners in making informed decisions regarding your heating oil storage system. In Nova Scotia tank installations of domestic fuel tanks is regulated by the Public Safety Division of Labour and Advanced Education.

Domestic fuel oil storage tanks have been in use for more than fifty years in Nova Scotia. Properly installed and maintained they can offer years of safe fuel storage. However, in the past, many tank installations and maintenance practices (or lack thereof) actually caused tank systems to fail well before their potential life expectancy had been reached.

If not properly installed and maintained, the domestic heating oil tank found at most Nova Scotian homes has the potential to affect human health, the environment, and become a financial liability.

Oil Tanks

Most tanks used for domestic heating oil are steel or composite material containers that hold about 1000 litres (200 gallons) and weigh about 1000 kilograms (1 ton) when full. Their tall, narrow shape lets them easily pass through standard doorways, but it also makes them fairly unstable unless they have proper, secure supports to keep them from tipping over.

Domestic oil tanks are not designed to last forever and must be properly maintained and replaced after their effective service life. Life expectancy can be affected by the tank material and configuration of the tank.

Consider an innovative tank

Manufacturers use a number of technologies to produce tanks that have a longer life. These include double-walled tanks, fibreglass tanks, composite plastic/metal tanks, lined tanks, stainless steel tanks, and heavier-wall, 2.5-mm (12 gauge) steel tanks. They may come in different shapes to enhance stability. They may feature a different oil outlet type to prevent water accumulation in the tank. They may include an anti-syphon device or a fuel safety valve to prevent oil from spilling if the supply line is broken. It is recommended that you investigate these options when purchasing a new or replacement tank. The initial cost may be higher, but tank service life is usually longer.

Did You Know

  • Nova Scotia has approximately 200,000 domestic oil tanks.
  • Although the number appears to be declining, each year in Nova Scotia there are hundreds of spills from home heating oil tanks.
  • Oil from a leaking tank can contaminate the soil and become a threat to drinking water supplies. As well, odors can often enter dwellings through the sewer system or through foundation walls and floors.
  • The cost to clean up a spill can range from several thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Plus, there is the added disruption and inconvenience of the cleanup.

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