In Northern New Jersey it is common for a home to have an underground storage tank or (UST). A UST is a large tank that holds oil used for heating the home. Some oil tanks are active in homes that use oil as the primary heat source, while others are abandoned or decommissioned in homes that have been converted to gas heat. When an abandoned UST appears on a home inspection, it can be a complicated matter. That’s because there’s always a possibility that the soil underneath and around the tank could be contaminated with oil products. Here are 4 tips to help deal with an oil tank.
1. Tank Sweep - The first step to confirming the presence of a UST is to hire a company that will perform a “sweep “ of the property to detect the tank. If a tank is discovered, they will produce a report describing the approximate size of the tank and it’s location. A tank sweep typically costs $250-$350.
2. Get Permits & Certificates – If an oil tank had been previously decommissioned or removed, there should be a permit or certificate with the town. Buyers should be wary of a seller that mentions the removal of a tank but doesn’t have any permits or town certs to back it up.
3. Soil Test – In instances where a UST is discovered it’s critical to know 2 things: Is there is any oil product still in it and is it leaking? Remember that some UST’s can be 30 or 40 years old. The tanks decay and corrode over time and eventually can leak. If a leak is suspected then environmental company should be hired to take a soil sample and analyze it for possible soil contamination.
4. Sell it As-Is -If a UST is discovered during a real estate transaction in most cases the buyers will ask that the sellers remove the tank. However, sometimes a home can be sold with the UST still in the ground. For example, investors and house flippers often buy properties with abandoned USTs. Foreclosures, estates, and vacant homes are often sold as-is and some investors take the risk. If a seller has a UST, selling to a cash buyer may be the best option.
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