Heating oil tank in garden
May 14, 2018

As you sit cosily in your home, enjoying the warmth of your central heating system, spare a thought for the unsung heroes that make it all possible. Out in all weathers, working day and night to ensure your family are snug. These silent grafters are the forgotten link in the heating oil chain. (Find out more about heating oil on our prices page!)

No, I’m not talking about our delivery drivers (although they do work hard!). I’m talking, of course, about your heating oil tank!

Your tank is the cornerstone of your central heating system. If the tank fails, everything fails, and that is the last thing you need on a cold winter’s night.

‘But a tank is just a tank’, I hear you cry. ‘What is there to know?’.

Well, quite a lot actually. Especially if you’re thinking of replacing an old tank and you’re considering which type to install. Heating oil tanks are one of the things we get asked about regularly, which is why we’ve put together this informative blog post.

Which Heating Oil Tank Should I Buy?

There are just two types of tank to consider – plastic and steel. The majority of homes will require a standard plastic tank.

Plastic tanks are robust and require less maintenance than steel. All of those sold by Rix Heating Services come with a 10-year guarantee. They are relatively easy to install and often coloured to blend in with the natural surroundings of a garden environment.

Plastic tanks can be bought off the shelf in a range of sizes, from a small 800-litre tank which is suitable for cottages and bungalows, right up to 5,000-litre tanks for larger family homes and farmhouses.

Steel tanks are generally made to order and are often sought if an unusual shape of tank is required for a particular space. They require more maintenance than plastic tanks because they need to be painted when they are first installed, and then again at various intervals after that. Steel tanks must also be regularly checked for rust.

Steel tanks usually come with a guarantee, but the length of this will vary with different manufacturers.

All new tanks should come with the correct labelling regarding fuel type and any other information you and the delivery driver needs to know attached.

What is a bunded tank?

Most modern tanks are bunded. This means there is a tank within the tank, where the heating oil is actually held. With a bunded tank, the outer tank provides an extra layer of protection should the holding tank leak. There is also a gap between the two tanks which any leaked oil can spill into. This is called the bund, hence their name. Also, if the delivery driver should accidentally overfill the tank, this oil will also spill into the bund, ensuring your lawn isn’t ruined! So when buying a new tank, it is always best to go for a bunded one.

Where should I Situate my Tank?

In the vast majority of residential settings, it is best to locate the tank outside in an area which is concealed from view, if at all possible, but somewhere that the delivery driver is still able to access. Although it might be tempting to place the tank in a secure building such as a garage, to prevent theft, this can cause access issues.

Some commercial tanks are placed inside, but these tend to be in large agriculture buildings or warehouses where access isn’t an issue.

Can I Install My New Heating Oil Tank Myself?

Absolutely not is our advice. Installing a heating oil tank is a technical job, so unless you are a builder or have similar skills and equipment, it is far better left to OFTEC qualified technicians. There are a host of reasons for this but one of the mains ones is that home heating oil tanks tend to be gravity-fed, meaning they need to be elevated and on a firm, level base. Creating such a base is a technical job that requires good building skills and lifting gear to get the tank into position. It really is a case of ‘don’t try this at home, folks’. Instead, call in the professionals!

How Do I Protect My Tank?

There are a variety of ways to help protect your tank against fuel thieves. These include:

  • Ensure the cap is fitted with a secure padlock.
  • Position the tank in a place which is not obvious from any roads near to your property.
  • Grow some plants and foliage around the tank to disguise it, although not so much that it gets in the way of the delivery driver.
  • Install security lighting near to the tank which comes on with movement.
  • Install CCTV overlooking the tank.
  • Fit a smart meter which tells you when the oil level drops below a certain volume. If you get a sudden alert it might mean thieves have targeted your tank.

Where Do I Go for More Information?

If you’re thinking of buying a new home heating oil tank, come and speak to us. We offer a free site survey and advice service to make sure you get the best tank for your needs. All of our engineers are OFTEC registered, meaning you can be totally confident your tank will be installed to highly professional standards. Drop us a line at or call 01482 222250.

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