Spills from your heating oil tank can be caused by cracks, splits, theft and human error - often the first sign of a leak can be a strong smell of oil. If you do have a leak or spill, you must act quickly – a heating oil spill can severely damage the surrounding environment and can lead to expensive clean-up costs.

If you become aware of an oil leak or spill coming from your central heating oil tank, you should immediately turn off the supply, identify the source and take measures to stop any spread of home heating oil such as catching drips in a bucket or using sand or cat litter to soak up any heating oil on the ground.

Contact your supplier or an OFTEC registered oil heating engineer to arrange to have any remaining fuel in the tank pumped out as soon as possible.

Keep children and animals away and maximise ventilation in any space where you can smell the domestic heating oil. Do not eat, drink or smoke whilst dealing with the spill or before you have had chance to wash your skin and clothes.

Under no circumstances try to wash away the heating oil or apply detergent to the area as if the leak reaches a local water supply you will need to contact your local environmental protection agency as soon as possible.

Remember prevention is better than cure – it’s important to maintain your heating oil tank correctly by carrying out regular visual checks as well as having it assessed by a fully qualified OFTEC oil heating engineer as part of your annual boiler service to limit the risk of your tank splitting.

We recommend you check with your insurers to make sure that your tank and its contents are covered by your home insurance policy. Make sure your policy covers you for:

  • Expenses for cleaning up domestic heating oil on your own property.
  • Environmental clean-up for accidental oil loss.
  • Liability expenses to cover neighbouring land and boreholes.

Once all safety and environmental risks have been addressed, it may be that you will need to replace your heating oil tank, and your OFTEC registered oil heating engineer will be able to help and advise you to ensure that your new heating oil tank complies with domestic oil tank regulations. Alternatively, it might be a good time to consider changing to an alternative fuel such as LPG, which is cleaner burning and more environmentally friendly.

For all you need to know on heating oil leaks, read our full guide.