Where Should an Oil Tank be Placed?

So, you need to place a heating oil tank on your property.  Whether you are replacing an existing tank or looking to put in a new one you need to consider to main areas:

  • The law.
  • Practicality.

The intention of this article is to give you the major considerations that are involved in such a decision.  The following are a number of points you should think about:

  • Any constraints put on you by your insurance company.
  • If you have an old tank how it will be removed along with pipework (if necessary).
  • The type of tank you need.
  • The target placement point for the tank.
  • Access to the tank once it is installed by:
    • Delivery companies who bring you the fuel oil.
    • Maintenance engineer.
    • You.

Here at Add Heat we can give you all the advice you will need.  We will aid you to not only ensure you comply with any legal obligations but also ensure you acquire the optimal tank for your requirements.  In addition, your engineer will look into local:

  • Watercourses
  • Manhole covers that are not close fitting
  • Water wells
  • Water bore holes
  • High water tables
  • Sensitive groundwater

These areas are inspected as they could potentially be affected by a leak from the heating oil tank.  They have the potential therefore to impact where you can place your heating oil tank.  If, however one or more of the above points do exist you may also need a secondary containment feature to ensure your tank is within the law.

Where should I place my oil tank?

Although our advice will be specific to your need it is generally recommended that the tank is:

  • Installed outside.
  • Installed above ground.
  • Is fitted secondary containment in case of leaks.
  • In view of room in your property that is frequently used.
    • You may not be aware but having heating oil stolen from a heating oil tank is a risk. By smart placement of the heating oil tank the risk of this can be reduced.

Are you particularly driven to have your heating oil tank installed underground?  If you are please be aware that quite possibly you will need planning permission.  If you are determined on this option however before you placing any orders it is would be wise to get in contact with regulatory body for the environment in your area to see if It is allowed under local law.  It may be this will not be allowed due to considerations to the local environment.

It is also possible for a heating oil tank to be installed within a building, however this will need a secondary containment for safety, It may also be required by law.  The tank will also need to be:

  • Enclosed by a fire-resistant container.
  • Be positioned as low in the building as possible.

If you are considering a location of this type, please seek advice form one of ‘Add Heats’ engineers.

In addition to all the above it is necessary to consider if you are in an area that is at risk of flooding.  If you are you need to be aware that heating oil storage tanks have a risk of damage in locations that flood.

Let’s now look at the type of tank you need

The above ground type of tank:

You would be wise to select a tank that has been made to comply with all the standards for:

  • British standards
  • European standards
  • Industry standards

This will ensure your tank is one of quality as it has been built to a high set of standards.  The tank should also be marked clearly with its maximum filing capacity.  You want this as it will aid you when you are ordering a delivery of fuel oil.  Your potential new tank needs to also clearly show the actions you will need to take if there is a spill or a leak.

The underground type of tank:

It is most important to know that this type of installation requires a specific design of tank that has been built for that specific purpose.  This specialised design ensures the pressures on the tank walls when it is empty does not cause a failure.  At ‘Add Heat’ we can of course provide you with guidance and ensure any installation is in line with the instructions from the manufacturer of the tank.

Access to the oil tank once fitted

In addition to the points mentioned above on access, you need to ensure your tank is situated so that:

  • You are able to see all around the tank so that you can spot any leaks.
  • Access to the fill point on the tank.
    • Will the delivery driver be able to easily access it with the fill hose without having to complete an assault course of obstacles?
  • There is space for the delivery driver to be when next to the tank when he/she is topping it up.
  • Is there a location that the fuel oil tanker will be able to park in order to it to deliver to your heating oil tank?

Proper installation of an oil tank

It is necessary due to building regulations that your tank be:

  • On a level and stable base/platform that protrudes at least 300mm outside the dimensions of the tank at its widest aspect all the way around. The purpose of this is to reduce the risk of the spread of fire.
  • The base can be built in the following ways:
    • On a sound ground situation:
      • A concrete slab of 10cm thickness.


  • 5cm thick paving slabs that are close fitting.

Old Tank and pipework

If you are looking to replace an existing tank you need to ensure your old tank and pipework is properly decommissioned.  By having these items removed by your ‘Add Heat’ engineer you will ensure that is done properly and you won’t be at risk of a pollution incident.  In the event it is not possible to remove old pipework it will be necessary to ensure it is properly capped.

Next Steps

Here at Add Heat we can provide professional and friendly advice on your oil tank placement and all the associate requirements.  Give us a call to see how we can be of help.

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