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Oil tanks installation and maintenance

If your home features an oil Aga / Rayburn or features an oil based central heating system you will have an oil storage tank somewhere on your property. Likewise if you are considering using oil for your heating or cooking needs you need to consider the location and implementation of an oil tank. Modern oil tanks are a safe storage medium for your oil requirements.


oil tank installation, repairs and maintenance





Oftec and building regulationsOil storage tanks are not inherently dangerous but they still need to be sited correctly and certain provisions need to be made incase an oil leak ever did occur. Oftec govern the way oil tanks should be installed and have issued a number of guidelines. Oil tanks also come under Building Control (Control of Pollution - oil storage) and so a strict number of minimum regulations must be met to safely and legally site and install your oil tank.

  • Tank positioning - Correct positioning of tanks with regard to protection from fire
  • Bunds - Use of bunded tanks in locations where severe environmental damage could be caused by any spillage or tank capacity is greater than 2500 litres
  • Tank base - Provision of a properly designed base to support the tank
  • Pipework - Correct installation of the pipework between the tank and the appliance
  • Fire cut off system - Provision of a properly located fire cut off system in the oil supply line

Tank positioning

Your oil tank can not simply be placed anywhere, there are a number of strict regulations concerning the positioning of your oil tank, all of which are for your own safety and also to reduce environmental risk. One of the most catastrophic risks of an oil tank is if it should catch fire obviously placing everything around the oil tank in immediate danger. Below are just some of the regulations concerning oil tank positioning within private property:

  • oil tank regulationsWhere a fire protection barrier is not provided a minimum distance of 760mm clearance between the tank and combustible boundary and a minimum of 1.8 m clearance between tank and combustible wall of building needs to be provided.
  • Where a fire protection barrier is provided (has fire resistance of at least 30 minutes and extends at least 300mm past tank) the tank can be placed closer to combustible materials.
  • Where the tank is sited next to non combustible walls or boundary the tank can be sited next to non combustible wall under no minimum restriction apart from the wall must extend at least 1.8m either side and above of the tank (unless protection cladding is used)


A bund must be provided if any of these assessments are met if the tank:

  • bunded oil tankshas a capacity of greater than 2500 litres (also see section on Control of Pollution (Oil Storage) (England) Regulations 2001 for tanks greater than 3500 litres capacity.)
  • is sited within 10m of a "controlled water" such as a stream, ditch, river, lake, pond, canal or coastal water.
  • is sited where any oil spillage could run into an open drain or loose fitting manhole cover.
  • is sited within 50m of sources of drinking water, such as a well, borehole or spring.
  • is sited over hard ground or hard surfaced ground that could allow spilled oil to enter "controlled water".
  • is sited where the tank vent pipe outlet cannot be seen from the fill point.

Where a bund is required it should be capable of holding 110% of the contents of the tank in the event of a leakage or spillage during filling. The best form of bunding is usually provided by using an integrally bunded oil tank.


If any rain water enters the bund it must be pumped out and must be disposed of safely and must be treated as special waste unless you know for sure that no oil contaminants are present. There must also be no further drain off points made into the bund wall.


Tank base

oil tank baseYour oil tank needs to be sited over a non combustible base either purpose made or using an existing non combustible surface. A typical purpose made base would be made of concrete and will be made to suit the weight and size of oil tank that it will be used for. If an existing base or surface is to be used it should be assessed for its suitability before tank installation commences. All bases need to extend at least 300mm all the around the installed oil tank.


When a raised base must be used, the base must also be made from a non-combustible material. A raised base would be used where the tank is used to supply Aga's or non pressure jet boilers, gravity reliant appliances usually rely on the oil tank being sited higher than the appliance with the use of a raised base.



oil pipe

The oil supply pipe(s) is usually annealed copper tube with a protective plastic coating and where possible supplied in continuous lengths. This type of pipe is used because of its adaptive properties as it can easily be manipulated around bends etc and also for its durability. Plastic pipe is available for oil lines but must be used for underground installations only.


If the supply pipe must include joints, the joints must be easily accessible, even if they are located underground (access ducts must be provided). The supply pipe must not feature galvanised pipe, fittings or soldered joints and should always be adequately sleeved where appropriate. Supply pipe size will be governed by the length of pipe that is required, please contact us for further details.


Fire cut off system

fire cut off systemIn order to meet requirements and indeed offer further protection at the risk of fire damage a fire valve must be fitted on the oil supply pipe between the tank and actual boiler or appliance. A fire valve is fitted as part of an installation and is not normally included within the normal boiler or appliance components.


The purpose of a fire valve is incase of fire the valve will shut of the supply of oil from the tank to the boiler or appliance, thus stopping further oil fueling the fire.


A fire valve is normally fitted to the supply pipe on the outside of the property whilst the sensor is installed on the inside within the boiler or appliance. If the sensor is triggered by fire it automatically switches the valve closed, thereby shutting off the supply of oil to the boiler or appliance. Fire valves must comply with OFTEC standard OFS E101.


In addition to the fire valve there will normally be a manual tank isolation valve located on or very near the actual tank. This can be used as a further measure to stop oil flowing through the pipe altogether.

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How to reduce the risk


There are two main risks of keeping an oil tank, fire damage and oil spillage or leakage. By following the guidelines and regulations set out by Oftec and Building Control we can greatly reduce the risk of fire damage and oil spillage with our installation soundness. However spillages or leakage can happen through reasons beyond our control such as spillages when you get your oil tank topped up or accidental damage when carrying out garden work or even malicious damage due to vandalism.


The following brief check list could help you save an expensive bill.

  • provide secondary containment for your tank and its ancillary equipment even if you are not required by law to have it
  • The tank should also be clearly labeled with the safe capacity and fuel type - contact us if you require further assistance
  • inspect your tank, its ancillary equipment and pipework at least weekly for corrosion, damage, interference and signs of leaks;
  • use an OFTEC registered technician to service and inspect your boiler, tank, ancillary equipment and all pipework, at least once a year (contact us to arrange a visit)
  • be alert to possible leaks by carefully noting your oil usage pattern. A small leak can, over time, add up to a large loss of fuel. This is especially important if underground pipes are used;
  • if you notice or suspect a leak get it investigated and repaired by your OFTEC registered technician immediately (contact us if you notice a leak)
  • check your current fuel stocks carefully before re-ordering oil. Do not allow your tank to be overfilled;
  • never leave site gauge valves open. Don't use site gauge valves that don't close automatically. Only use auto-close  British Standard sight gauge valves. The valve should only be activated when you take a level reading. If you want continuous level monitoring get suitable equipment installed and have the sight gauge removed;
  • always supervise your oil delivery. Discuss delivery procedures with your fuel delivery company, check that they are happy with your tank and its delivery arrangements from health and safety and
  • check your home insurance policy – you may not be covered for loss of oil or pollution clean up costs;
  • it's a good idea to have an oil spill kit with absorbent materials, drain blockers and leak sealing putty to help you deal with a spill or leak (this can be purchased from us)

If the unfortunate does happen and you find that your oil tank has leaked it is firstly important to isolate the remaining supply by turning off the supply at the tank using the isolation valve. Secondly if you have a spill kit use this to suffocate the leaked oil, alternatively use earth or sand if a spill kit is not available. Lastly contact us to arrange inspection on the cause of the oil leak and recommendations for the next steps, and/or phone the Environmental Agency on 0800 807060.

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How we can help


Titan oil tanksWe can carry out oil tank installations as part of a complete central heating system or simply as a replacement for the old one. We only use Titan oil tanks as we find these to be the most reliable oil tanks on the market and we have no hesitation in recommending them to all of our customers.


bunded oil tankIn terms of installation we can advice on the most suitable size and type of oil tank for your requirements, we generally recommend bunded oil tanks for all installations, but unless this is a legal requirement for your particular installation the decision is still left down to you. An oil tank installation would be subject to a FREE survey in order to check the tanks suitability and location. An accurate quote can then be produced based on your requirements and our advice. We can also design and construct a concrete base (if required) for your oil tank, or this can be left to others, the choice is yours.


oil ventingA common problem that we regularly attend is when the oil tank has run out of oil to the surprise and for the most part annoyance of its owner. In this situation you would have to arrange for an oil delivery to fill the tank back up. Once the oil has been delivered your oil supply needs to be 'vented through'. Your oil line system will need bleeding and venting to make sure air is not present within the system and also to make sure the oil is fed through the pipe. We would also check the filter and change if required. We can also carry out any other repairs to your oil tank such as valve replacements.

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Oil tank specifications


titan talking tank

Titan Talking tank

These are single skinned tanks with remote sensor capability suitable for use where bunding is not a legal requirement. Talking tanks are available in standard non talking versions to the fully featured packed all-inclusive Talking Titan version with options for storage from 1200 litres to 2500 litres and beyond. Talking tanks are also available in a number of shapes, please contact us for more information.



titan ecosafe tank

Titan EcoSafe tank

These are Titan's premier tank offering all the benefits of the Talking Tank with many additional features. The Ecosafe range is integrally bunded as standard and is one of the most advanced oil tanks on the market. the EcoSafe range is also factory fitted with the Watchman Plus complete pro-active fuel monitoring system. This enables monitoring of oil levels within the tank and also acts as a bund safety sensor. Ecosafe tanks are also available in a number of shapes and storage options from 1000 litres to 2500 litres and beyond.



oil watchman gauge

Oil tank accessories

There are a number additional extras that can be fitted to an oil tank including additional sight gauges, Tigerloops and filters. Perhaps of the most benefit are the aforementioned oil Watchman devices enabling you to monitor your oil level from the comfort of inside your own home. A Watchman can be retro fitted to older single skinned plastic tanks to ensure careful oil monitoring for any system.