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Frequently asked questions
What is OFTEC?
The term OFTEC stands for the Oil Firing Technical Association. OFTEC is an independent body operating within the UK & Ireland that certifies engineers as competent to work within the oil-fired heating and cooking sector. They oversee the registration and training of technicians involved in commissioning, installation, servicing and plant operation which uses oil-fired equipment. The scheme has since been extended to cover technicians engaged in oil delivery.
All OFTEC approved engineers ensure their installations are carried out to the correct standard and conform to the latest legislation. You should ensure that your engineers are OFTEC approved when considering new or replacement oil-fired boilers, pipework or tanks. You can find an OFTEC registered installer on the OFTEC website: www.oftec.org/Consumers/FindTechnician.
Why replace older metal oil tanks?
Replacing older metal oil tanks is a wise financial decision. Older metal tanks can often cause problems for homeowners and businesses as they were rarely built with the same durability as newer models. This is especially the case if they have not been regularly serviced or maintained to a high standard.
Older oil tanks can often leak despite regular painting as hidden condensation on the inside of the tank can sometimes lead to corrosion. Oil leaks are not only very costly but you have a legal requirement to ensure your oil tank is not posing a risk to its surrounding environment. Water from rainfall can also get into the system due to weaknesses in the structure of older metal tanks, causing a range of different problems such as clogging the pipes or corroding the heating system.
Where can I locate my oil tank?
There are several factors to consider when choosing the location of your oil tank. All tank installations are covered by building regulations that can affect where you decide to place your tank. This takes into consideration its proximity to boundaries and buildings, as well as its size, to ensure fire protection.
Oil tanks must be placed in an area that is unlikely to be disturbed by normal household activities. Your tank should be easily accessible and you must be able to visually inspect it from all sides. Avoid locating your tank in an area where it may be subject to falling snow or dripping water, however protection can be provided if there is no alternative.
Is my oil tank leaking?
You have a legal requirement to ensure your oil tank is stored safely and securely without posing a risk to its environment. The Environment Agency urges people to check their oil tank for leaks regularly to help protect the area surrounding your oil tank as well as reducing the risk of financial losses. Leaking oil can pose a high environmental risk as it is likely to end up in drains leading to streams, rivers and lakes.
A leaking oil tank may be obvious and maintain a strong oil smell, but there are also more subtle signs to look out for to tell whether or not your oil tank is leaking. Keep an eye out for damp patches or damage to the grass underneath your tank and monitor any dents or scratches on its sides. There may also be rust patches if your tank is metal or splits in the surface if it is plastic. There are several reasons as to why an oil tank would leak, including its age, a deterioration in quality, vandalism or harsh weather conditions.
What is a single skin oil tank?
A single skin oil tank has one skin within which the oil is held, meaning only one layer of plastic separates the stored oil from its surroundings. This can pose a high environmental risk should an oil leak occur. Single skin oil tanks are not permitted for the storage of fuel at commercial, industrial or institutional premises, and an installation of a single skin tank at domestic properties can only be carried out if strict criteria is met. These oil tanks are generally the cheapest option in comparison to bunded tanks, however this comes with potential future costs as it is the least secure option of the two. A risk assessment is strongly advised if you are interested in installing a single skin oil tank onto your property.
What is a bunded oil tank?
A bunded tank consists of one tank placed inside another. Oil is stored within the inside tank while the outer tank acts as a safety net to catch any spillages in the event of a leak. This helps to avoid any environmental damage being caused to an oil tank’s surroundings and it is even possible to recover and reuse the oil from the second skin should a leak occur. They are a requirement at commercial, industrial and institutional premises but some domestic properties are still able to install a single skin tank if strict criteria are met. Bunded tanks are the safest and most compliant way to store oil and are the cheapest option in the long-run despite their higher price.
Do I need a bunded oil tank, and how do I know?
All non-domestic oil storage tanks over 200 litres need to be bunded tanks. For domestic premises, you must carry out an oil storage risk assessment which can be obtained from OFTEC. The regulations for domestic installations are complicated and can often vary from region to region. It is important to check with the Building Control department of your local council if you are planning to install a single skin tank.
A bunded tank is required in domestic situations if:
The capacity of the oil tank is over 2500 litres
Your tank is within 10m of controlled water such as a river or stream
Your tank is near an open drain or loose-fitting manhole cover, including sink wastes and domestic draining systems
Your tank is located where any spillage could travel over hard ground to reach controlled water
Your tank vent is not visible from the fill point
Your oil use is for a building other than a single-family dwelling (e.g. multiple occupancy buildings)
Your tank is located within 50m of a spring, borehole or well
There are other potential environmental hazards
Can I fit an oil tank myself?
All oil tank installations must be completed by a competent person and comply with building regulations. In England and Wales, you must obtain a Building Control Notice from your local building control and arrange for an inspection if you choose to install an oil tank yourself. The same regulations will apply if you choose to hire someone who is not registered to a scheme such as OFTEC to install it for you. In Scotland, the rules are similar and you may need to apply for a warrant. An OFTEC-registered technician can certify their own work and is a less costly choice for installation.