<<Updated April 2017>>
The average year built of homes sold in Seattle during the 1st Quarter of 2015 was 1964 – Just as natural gas heat was starting to become the most popular type of heating system for homes in the Seattle area. But what about older homes in our more established neighborhoods? Many are still using oil heat, but many more have since converted to gas or electric heat. What happened to all those old oil tanks?
How do I determine if there is an oil tank on a property, and whether or not it has been decommissioned?
This is not an uncommon question to answer as a Realtor when a home is sold and transferred to a new homeowner. To determine if an oil tank is on a property – or if it has been decommissioned, the first step is to contact the local Fire Marshal’s Office.
The Fire Department does not have records of the location of underground heating oil tanks, because a Fire Department permit is not required to install underground heating oil tanks. However, the Permit Section staff in the Fire Marshal’s Office for the City of Seattle, can check for any record of the removal or decommissioning of an oil tank at your address conducted under permit after 1997 for residential properties; and after 1984 for commercial properties.
Email your request to email@example.com Include the property address and a fax number if you’d prefer to receive the report by fax. They’ll research permits on file and respond within 5 days. (I’ve usually heard back within 24-48 hours.)
Most decommissioning reports have only been in place for the past 15 years, so if it was done earlier, a Seattle Fire Department permit was not required to remove or decommission an underground tank.
Other cities are similar in this method of investigation, so depending on where you live, you’ll want to contact the fire department responsible – whether in city limits or the County if you live in an unincorporated area.
If you need to investigate the possibility of an abandoned oil tank further, most oil tank companies offer locating services if you are unsure if – or where an underground storage tank is buried on the property.