Posted by & filed under Buying, Selling.

tank sweep inspectionBuying a home in Tenafly, Teaneck, Englewood, Cresskill or elsewhere in Bergen County? Then you should do a tank sweep inspection to check for an abandoned underground oil tank. What, you may ask, is a tank sweep test?

Frankly, I didn’t know about this and was never told to have a tank sweep test done until recently.   However, I now advise all my clients to do a tank sweep.

Why Do A Tank Sweep Inspection

A tank sweep is considered the best way to locate unknown abandoned oil tanks under ground. Years ago no one worried about oil tanks.  Homeowners never gave it a thought.  Tanks were just disconnected and closed up when heat was changed from oil to gas fuel.  This is why many homeowners who’ve lived in their homes for decades have no idea what happened.

Homes are often put up for sale when children have grown up and it’s time to down size.  These sellers almost always have no idea what happened when the house converted from oil to gas.  Here is something else too:  What if before there were homes, the land was a farm.  Farmers used oil tanks to heat their houses too.

Farm homes used oil for years longer than elsewhere  because gas lines came late to farm country.  They heated barns with small oil tanks during the winter too.  This is where they worked on rebuilding tractor motors, fixing broken equipment etc during the winter.  The Great Depression contributed to this too.  Home businesses were run from garages.  Some were heated using small underground oil tanks.  This is why a tank sweep test  should be part of your home inspection.

Advice For Sellers

If you own a home, do a tank sweep too. Not only for peace of mind but it will help build value when you sell your home and if a nd tank is discovered, dealing with it sooner than later is always best.  Constructed of metal, these old underground oil tanks are past their life time.  It’s possible, as a result, that they can leak.  Even a small pin hole leak can cost several thousands of dollars to remedy.  While no one wants to look for trouble, the sooner you do a tank sweep inspection the less damage a leaking oil tank can do.

ATS Environmental did a sweep test on a listing of mine recently. The technician examined the basement and grounds for signs of oil heat (the house is presently heated by gas) and then swept the grounds with a special metal detector that locates buried oil tanks. The entire test took about 30 minutes and he told us that everything was fine.

Lombardo Environmental is another company I recommend.  This is a family run company which my customers have raved about.  Whenever an oil tank has been removed, all of them have told me what a neat job Lombardo did.  Budget $2,500 to remove an oil tank; this should cover permit expenses too.

Removing An Underground Oil Tank

Tanks are removed by digging them out of the ground using shovels and a backhoe.  The 1st picture above shows a newly excavated abandoned underground oil tank.  The 2nd picture is of an oil tank leak found by Lombardo Environmental when the tank was excavated.  I was there and you could definitely smell oil in the dirt.  Because of regulations, Lombardo had to stop all work, highlight the leak in orange and call the Building Department.  As a result, everything was delayed.  Most of the time there is no trouble.  Sometimes, as in this picture, a leak is found.

Whether you are buying a home or own one, a tank sweep test is a good idea.

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