furnace oil tank needs certification by TSSA

from a home inspector in the Kingston, Ontario Home Inspector area

John Marston CPI,CIM,BSc eng technologist
The Financial Toolbox… Certified Home Inspections

In my opinion…a Kingston, Ontario Home Inspector
There should be a “wall of shame” for Certified Home Inspectors that do a poor job resulting in a Holmes on Homes type story and putting the new buyer in a high risk position… both financial and emotional. And worse… the new home buyers often don’t have the extra money or time to seek damages. And yet, the real estate agents still offer up this Certified Home Inspector as a “good guy” to their clients.
Come on… it’s time to make changes at least in the Kingston, Ontario Home Inspector area.

And so here’s a real life story… a relative of mine and his wife bought a home out in the country. (Kingston, Ontario Home Inspector area) They hired the services of the Certified Home Inspector recommended by the real estate agent even though they knew I am a Certified Home Inspector. The fellow, well known in the area, inspected the home… apparently not up to the Holmes on Homes standards. He gave them the thumbs up, they paid him the $400 fee, and they bought the home.

The fuel in the oil tank was running low so they called a fuel supplier. The technician looked at the tank and system and condemned it immediately. There was no tag or registration on the tank, and a follow-up inspection by a certified inspector under the TSSA showed that the tank was leaking. The leaky tank was drained, removed and a new one installed. $4,000 or so later, the furnace was up and running. Lucky for them, there was no environmental damage.

One litre of fuel oil can contaminate one million litres of drinking water. "The homeowner/tank owner must become aware of this potential loss situation and take steps to reduce their loss exposure. Contamination clean-up can cost in excess of $50,000, so it is in everyone’s interest to prevent a leak from occurring."

Further their insurance company was unaware of the age of the oil tank as there was no TAG or registration certificate attached to the tank.

**“According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, a home with an exterior oil tank older than 15 years or an interior tank older than 20 years will NOT be insured”

The Technical Standards & Safety Authority has mandated that all heating fuel suppliers must inspect all oil tanks to which they deliver fuel, whether the oil tank is located above ground or below ground, initially and at least once every 10 years.** (Homeowners, visit the T.S.S.A. Website has more information about heating oil tanks and furnaces that use heating oil)

Leaky oil tanks are environmental hazards that must be replaced under Ontario Regulations. anybody who has moved into a new (or new-to-them) oil-heated home or who started a new account with a fuel oil supplier will have to have their oil tank inspected and approved by an oil-burner technician licensed by the Technical Standards and Safety Association (TSSA).

Domestic heating oil tanks have been under scrutiny in recent years. According to the internet Environmental Science & Engineering magazine, www.esemag.com ­ May 2002, storage tanks that are unprotected or not maintained represent a potential for environmental pollution. “There are between 1.2 million and 1.5 million homes that heat with oil in Canada,” the magazine says. "Over the last few years, there has been a startling number of tank failures and the trend will grow as traditional steel oil heating storage tanks corrode

"The majority of steel fuel oil tanks rust from the inside out. Because of condensation, water and sludge accumulate at the bottom of tanks. This combination creates an ideal environment for internal rust or corrosion of the steel tank wall. "More often than not, this damage is not visible and manifests itself as a catastrophic tank failure."
** (Often visible with the use of an Infrared Camera)

The magazine goes on to say that leaking tanks are also a result of improper tank maintenance, damp locations and mechanical damage. Outdoor installations are more susceptible to condensation as a result of day-night temperature changes and humidity. Exterior rusting is noticeable by the small pinholes on the tank.

And there’s more. “Nearly 40% of all fuel leaks reported to local and provincial ministries of environment are from domestic, heating oil storage tanks in private homes. The Insurance Bureau of Canada, Atlantic Division, says that claims paid for clean-up as a result of leaks from heating oil systems account for 5% of all claims paid under homeowners’ policies. Oil leaks from storage tanks and line ruptures have caused insurance claims to jump by about 50% in the past few years. Clean-ups can cost between $20,000 and $125,000 or more. Some clean-up costs can grow to greater than the value of the house.”**

Tanks must be Tagged and registered. If you are an agent in the Kingston, Ontario Home Inspection area, please insure that the oil tank holds a satisfactory TAG and Certificate. Apparently, you cannot rely on some Certified Home Inspectors in the Kingston, Ontario Home Inspection area.



Thanks John good post hope many read and follow up with this Information… Roy

I told you that there needs to be tags on new tanks and the old tanks over 10 yrs will not make the grade at times and it depends on where they are.
Very good article and goes right along with the seminar I took on Fuel Oil tank Inspections.

Thanks for the info John,
You Canadians are soooo very far ahead of the curve on residential oil storage tanks. Good on ya!
Here in east central upstate NY some of the tanks are real horror story accidents waiting to happen. 30 to 40 years, or more, old - rusted, unstable. It is scary when one considers the potential. I use Canadian info when teaching about oil storage tanks and potential dangers of neglecting them - just to make the students more aware. I think we (US) need to tighten up our requirements across the board. Some local areas are. Where my Dad lived they were given a 10 year period to phase out / remove from service (by digging them up) all UST and above ground tanks must have containment. That community went as far as to say if at all possible the tanks could not be outdoors - had to be in a basement, garage (on the sidewall, away from cars) or other acceptable indoor area.
Interesting to see how different areas approach the tank topic. My brother-in -law had a neighbor that had a small spill, estimated at under 5 gallons. Cost over 35 thousand to clean it up. Fortunately it never got into the aquifer - stayed within a few foot circle and near the surface.
People need to get educated. Your government is getting that information out there.

Prince Edward Island (2002-2007):

Newfoundland & Labrador (2003):