On the surface, your outdated home heating oil system could look like it's saving you money by going for so long. However, this is a dangerous game to play, and if you don't know exactly when to replace your system before it's too late (a wholly impossible skill), you could be footing a massive bill. Fuel oil remediation is no small business, and if you find yourself smelling oil coming from an outdated fuel tank or line, you could be the next one to shell out big money for an environmental repair job.
The Underlying Issues
Spilled fuel oil can cause huge problems-- that part is obvious from the massive media coverage that often goes along with oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico or Alaska. However, urban spills can be even more pressing, especially if large quantities of oil are expelled near compact dwellings. These spills can lead to wildlife habitat destruction, injuries and health complaints from fumes, and even potential drinking water contamination. Due to the nature of subsurface aquifers, this contamination can travel great distances if left unattended.
The Costs of Cleaning Up
The extent and location of a fuel oil spill can be big determining factors in the cost of fixing the problem. For example, if the fuel oil tank in your basement starts to leak due to old age, and the oil seeps into your concrete floor or wooden walls, you may have to demolish your entire house to mitigate the problem. If this contamination spreads past the footprint of your house, groundwater and soil may need to be analyzed and treated, or even removed if necessary, all at your expense. Since these services can cost upwards of $1,000 depending on where you live and how much soil needs to be removed, it is well worth the relatively easy and cheap process of investing in a new oil system or having your existing system repaired professionally.
Spilled oil is bad news, and if there is any way to avoid this issue, it is in the best interests of the homeowner to do so. When the cost of a new tank or fuel line is compared to a costly legal headache like a full on cleanup job, the answer becomes clear. The cost of keeping an old oil tank or system is infinitesimally more than a few extra kitchen towels and some air freshener, not only for you, but also your neighbors and your environment. Be sure to invest in oil repair, replacement and maintenance services to keep yourself from ever footing a huge bill.