Sometimes after listing your home for sale, buyers come across a deal killer. It’s best to be aware of potential deal killers up front, so you can either be mentally prepared to factor them into the negotiating process, or better yet so you can solve the problem before showing your home.

One of these potential deal killers that you need to be aware of is an underground oil tank.

What is a Deal Killer?

A deal killer is something buyers, their agent, or an inspector discovers during the selling process that causes them to reconsider. You might also think of them as a deal breaker, a non-negotiable factor that takes your home out of the running.

Underground oil tanks are often a deal killer, because they present such a major health and financial risk. Many mortgage companies will not even offer a mortgage for a home with an underground oil tank.

What is an Underground Oil Tank?

An underground oil tank is exactly what it sounds like: an oil storage tank that is buried underground, generally within a few feet of your home. In some cases, the underground oil tank will be located under a driveway.

How Do I Know if I Have an Underground Oil Tank?

If you aren’t sure if you have an underground oil tank, you can probably figure it out yourself without calling in a professional. In general, homes with underground oil tanks were built between the 1930s and the 1980s, before natural gas lines were commonly installed by municipalities.

Go to the side of the house where the boiler might be and look for fill pipes. You might also see two copper lines going into the foundation of your home, or a long skinny vent pipe along the side of your house. An underground oil tank likely won’t be more than 10 feet from the foundation of the house.

“If you still aren’t sure, you can hire a company to come out and confirm whether you have one. Unless you are completely sure that you don’t, it won’t hurt to go ahead and have someone look at it.” – Commercial Tampa Realtor ® Pam Pester

What to Do if You Have an Underground Oil Tank

If you have hired a company to come out and they confirm that you do have an underground oil tank, or if you’ve found one yourself, the next step is to find out what kind of condition it’s in.

The main issue that can make an underground oil tank a deal killer is leaking. Many underground oil tanks leak into the surrounding soil, presenting a major contamination risk. All home heated by oil have an oil tank, but an above ground oil tank leak will be easier to spot before major damage has occurred. Because of this, many buyers won’t even consider a home with an underground oil tank.

So, the most important thing to do once you realize you have an underground oil tank is to call in a legitimate, qualified company to do a tank sweep of the property. They will identify the location of any underground oil tanks and can check for leaking and contamination. For help finding reputable companies to help you with this, we have a list of people we trust.

You may consider investing in transitioning to an above ground oil tank to eliminate hazards and make your home more attractive to buyers. There will be a significant cost upfront, but this is likely the only way to make your home sellable.