Over the past years may of us have opted to make the switch from home heating oil delivered to your door to other more convenient fuels, such as gas. The choice to switch can be based on many factors such as cost of the fuel, equipment cost, tank replacement, smell, space utilization, etc. What ever made you change from oil, you had your reasons.
When we change fuel, most of us also like to get rid of the old furnace and oil tank in the basement. Who wants to have that sitting around in you basement? Not me.
In most cases the people removing the old equipment are professionals and have to follow strict government guidelines on the procedures for proper conversions. But not all the old equipment is remove by professionals!
As a home inspector, I have seen many situations throughout Toronto, Mississauga, Georgetown, Oakville and the GTA where the old oil furnace has been switched to gas, but the oil tank is still located within the house often tucked into the back of a closet, under some stairs or inside a wall cavity. Left behind the tank, which is manufactured from steel, can rust and start to leak causing and safety hazard and also and environment issue.
Sometimes the furnace and tank are removed but the oil fill and vent lines are left sticking out of the house. If the lines are left behind by the contractors the pipes are supposed to be filled with cement to prevent the heating fuel supplier from trying to fill the “tank”. Can you imagine the disaster that could occur if the heating oil supplier starts to pump heating oil into your basement? By the time some one has figured out what’s happened and stopped the filling, hundreds of gallons of heating oil could be inside your basement, flowing into floor drains and into municipal sewer systems. The disaster could run into the hundreds of thousands to clean up!
If your home has been converted from heating oil heating, check to make sure that the fill lines have been either sealed off and made inoperable or removed altogether. It cold save you a lot of trouble down the road.
If you think that mistakes like these can’t happen you don’t have to take may word for it. My wife got a scare when she recently heard some commotion outside and was shock to see a heating oil truck outside the front of the drive and the driver making his way to the front of the house with the fill hose ready to fill the oil tank! We switched to a gas furnace 8 months ago and informed the oil company that we no longer wanted fuel delivered. Over half a year later, there’re at our property looking to fill the tank! In our case the contractor did it right, he removed the tank and the fill lines so the worst that could have happened was a confused oil delivery man. But what if the lines were left behind? I don’t even want to think about it!