Portland Underground Oil Tanks

Many thousands of older homes in Portland, Oregon were once heated by oil furnaces that pulled the oil from oil tanks buried in the home’s land. Not all of these oil tanks were registered or permitted when installed. Over time these old tanks can leak and spill toxic oil into the ground. Oregon DEQ requires oil tank decommissioning when these old leaking oil tanks are found. Checking for a hidden buried oil tank, often called a “tank sweep”, is a common part of a home inspection conducted on an older home in our area.

buried portland oil tank

How Much Does it Cost to Decommission an Oil Tank?

August 5, 2022

If you’re planning to sell your Portland home, you’ll want to think about potential home hazards that might need to be addressed before putting it on the market. If you have an older home, chances are, it has (or had) a heating oil tank, whether it’s in use or not. To ultimately make the sale, you may need to get a certification letter from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and/or have a new site assessment done. This can apply even to those who have had their oil tanks previously decommissioned but not certified through Oregon DEQ. Testing and then decommissioning is voluntary during your home ownership, but often becomes involuntary after a buyer’s home inspection. Discovered leaking oil tanks...

heating oil tank homes oregon

HOT Homes: Must Know Heating Oil Tanks Facts

October 5, 2020

Heating oil was once a popular way to heat homes and buildings in Portland, but most are now using electricity or natural gas. However, the legacy of heating oil remains in the form of underground tanks that were used to store the oil on site, especially in homes built prior to 1965. Some of these tanks are the source of toxic ground contamination, which can also emit fumes into the air.  According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, there are 27,308 permanently decommissioned Heating Oil Tanks, or HOTs, buried underground across the state. Tens of thousands more are still in operation (both above and below ground), heating homes today. Plus many thousands more are sitting abandoned underground (some leaking...

oil tank decommission oregon

Portland Oil Tank Decommissioning: 2020 Update Home Hazards

December 16, 2019

If your Portland home has a heating oil tank, even a decommissioned one, you may need to get a new site assessment and/or certification letter from the DEQ before your home sells. This will come as a surprise to many Portland home owners who paid to have their oil tanks decommissioned in the past. No, there hasn’t been a rule change. Decommissioning is still voluntary, and the DEQ hasn’t called for mass recertifications — this is purely based on home buyers’ preferences. Over the past few years, there has been an increase in concern about soil contamination from old oil tanks, even those that had been previously decommissioned, and buyers are testing during their inspection period. If soil contamination is...

oil tank testing

Portland Home Tests: Oil Tank Sweep

July 15, 2014

Portland homes are heated in many ways. Some use electricity, some natural gas, and there are even a few homes that just use a wood stove or fireplace (not to mention Geo-thermal, heat pumps, and a variety of alternative methods!). Oil heat is not as common but it has been in use since the 1940s, heating about 10% of all homes in the United States. Oil heating systems are different in that oil must be delivered to the property and stored for use, much like you store gasoline in your car’s gas tank. The life span on Portland heating oil tanks is about 20 years, after which they pose an environmental hazard because of leaks. Unfortunately, once a tank is...