What's in the garden?

  • What tanks may be a risk
  • Metal or plastic single skin tanks
  • Tanks over 10 years old
  • Poorly supported tanks
  • Tanks that are poorly located
  • Tanks not fitted to regulations
  • Tanks with signs of bleaching or cracking
  • Metal tanks with signs of rust
  • Best practice
  • Integrally bunded (tank within a tank)
  • Top offtake oil supply
  • Contents gauge
  • Overfill prevention device
  • Fitted to building regulations
  • CE marking on plastic tanks
  • Regularly serviced
Building and environmental regulations

If the tank is near to a drain, bore hole, river or other water watercourse, and a pollution incident would occur if the tank leaked or was overfilled, the chances are that a bunded tank is needed by law.


Oil tanks should be sited in accordance with building regulations, which protects then from a fire that may be started near by. Siting is typically 1.8m from openings into building and 760mm from a combustible boundary. If this can’t be achieved, a fire barrier can be erected between the tank and hazard.

Service checks

  • Title
  • Age of the tank?
  • Does it meet building regulation installation requirements
  • Does the tank and associated bund contain liquid?
  • Check contents gauges are correct and operating with reasonable accuracy.
  • Check fill points for any wear, damage corrosion etc.
  • Check that vent systems are clear and that it discharges down into the bund.
  • Check the operation and condition of the overfill alarm and any warning devices fitted to the tank.
  • Check the underside of steel tanks for dampness around the piers
  • Check plastic tanks for surface whitening, bulging or distortion.
  • Plastic / metal tanks: what to look out for
  • Rust
  • Cracks
  • Splits
  • Bulging
  • Subsidence on the base
  • Gauges falling over or not working
  • Tanks overgrown with foliage

Best practice for service technicians

As an oil boiler service technician you have a responsibility to not only service the oil boiler but to carry out checks on the oil tank.

At the time of the boiler and tank service, a technician can use a CD/11 form to record observations relating to the condition of the oil tank and report these to the tank owner.

Duty of care

Checking the tank, including its age, condition and location is a vital part of a service visit and crucial in determining whether it may pose a risk.

If you have any concerns you should report them to the customer following the tank at risk procedure below and recommend that the tank be replaced. Remember, as the last man onsite, you have a duty of care to your customer and you could be liable should the tank fail.

A tank failure could also cause considerable inconvenience and cost for the customer, damage the environment and the reputation of the oil heating industry. It could also result in loss of future business and have legal and insurance implications for both parties.

If a tank is at risk what should you do?

If you deem following an inspection that the tank may be unsafe you should attach a warning tag or waning label and leave a post card with the occupier.

The label may recommend to the homeowner that the tank should be replaced and point them to further information so that they can understand why their tank hasn’t been filled, what their responsibilities are as the owner, the problems a leak could cause and how to resolve the issue.

It will also provide contact details for the technician’s own replacement services.

Useful Links

Oil firing technical Association

UK and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association (UKIFDA)

Oil Care

Environment Agency for England

Scottish Environment Protection Agency

Natural Resources Wales

Get to know your oil tank booklet

Find a UKIFDA Fuel Supplier

Find An OFTEC Registered Technician