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vent pipe This morning I was showing a 2 family house in North Bergen, NJ.  If you’re not familiar with North Bergen, it’s highly urban and the most northern town in Hudson County.   North Bergen borders Fairview alongside the Hudson River on top of the Palisades.  It contains a terrific 167 acre county park that was established in 1910.  It had a popular a race track on it’s northwestern edge around 100 years ago. As a result, this part of town near the park is known as the “race track section”.  It’s also the most prestigious area.  The 2 family house I showed today is located in this “race track section” of North Bergen.

Because North Bergen (like most of Hudson County) was developed around the turn of the 20th century, many of it’s buildings used coal as their heating fuel initially.  Homeowners transferred over to oil several decades later.  When you’re showing properties there, you must be mindful of this.  It’s important to be on the lookout for signs of abandoned underground oil tanks.

This is a picture of a vent pipe for an underground oil tank.  When people abandoned their oil tanks as they switched over to natural gas, they normally just closed them.  As a result vent pipes remained intact.  These are often found next to an exterior wall and sometimes in a front or rear yard.  This happened because oil tanks were not a known concern back then.

While I am not an expert on oil tanks, when showing homes in locations like North Bergen with a history of heavy oil heat use, I do my best.  I examine the exterior walls where they meet the ground carefully and the grounds.  Doing this today, I found an old vent pipe.

Only a licensed home or environmental inspector can properly advise you on this.  I’m just a real estate agent after all and not a licensed professional on oil tank issues.  However, by finding the vent pipe, I could better advise my customers.  A discovered vent pipe tells my customers to consider the possibility that an abandoned oil tank may exist.

When this is discovered the next step is to consult with a licensed oil tank contractor.  I know several to recommend.  If you need the name of one just go to my Contact Me page where you can call or email me.  You should also discuss this with your home inspector and attorney.

5 Responses to “Detecting An Oil Tank – Look for the vent pipe”

  1. Alex Caviness

    Hello Barbara,

    Great advice. May I add that in the more suburban areas I have seen them hidden in the grassy areas alongside the house as well as in the driveway flush with the asphalt. Many times you have wondered what that cap was. Chances are it’s a cap to an oil tank whether it’s still there or not.

    • Bergen County Real Estate Agent

      Thank you for the compliment and you’re right – they can be anywhere. Perhaps I should edit my post. In older urban locations I almost always see them along the foundation wall so being in Hudson County that day my focus was on similar properties. Usually I see them very near the foundation walls and as you described at the driveway. Still, they can be anywhere. I was also thinking about doing a post just on oil tank sweeps. Most people have no idea about that. Thanks for your comments. Do you do business with anyone at my office?

  2. Alex Caviness

    No Barbara I don’t do any business with anyone at your company. I was just searching for some interesting local blogs and I ran across yours. It by far has the most relevant information. I’m a construction professional. I provide consulting and management services for people with construction projects under 1M. Homeowners and small business owners are my clients. I act as an unbiased advocate to make sure my clients projects go smoothly and they get what they pay for. Check us out at when you get the chance. I don’t think you need to repost. Once people start looking for that oil cap their eyes will naturally wander. Keep giving great tips. People need all the information they can get. I’ll be checking in on you.

  3. Alexander Brandon

    Great article. It’s nice to read a quality blog post to find out basic steps of water tank cleaning. I think you made some good points in this post keep doing it

    • Bergen County Real Estate Agent

      Thank you for your kind words. I looked up your site and was equally impressed with what you have on it.