ALBANY — The State Department of Environmental Conservation advised homeowners that heating fuel oil storage tanks should be inspected to ensure they will not leak or spill before receiving the first supply for the upcoming heating season.

More than 2 million homes in New York are heated by fuel oil, the DEC said in a press release.

Each year, hundreds of fuel oil spills from home heating oil tanks are reported to the DEC Spills Hotline that have resulted in contamination of basements, damage to basement contents, contamination of groundwater, wells and soils, and expensive cleanups that are often not covered by homeowner’s insurance.

Some of the most common causes of home fuel oil spills are:

• Failing storage tanks.

• Faulty fuel lines and connections.

• Collapsing tank legs and supports.

• Overflows during delivery.

Homeowners should consider using a company that offers a service contract to maintain tanks and heating systems, DEC said.

The agency also encourages homeowners to schedule an inspection.

“An annual inspection of fuel oil storage tanks can prevent impacts to human health and the environment from leaks and spills,” it said.

Here’s what to watch for:

• Bent, rusty, or wobbly tank legs or tank located on an unstable foundation.

• Signs of rust, weeps, wet spots, or excessive dents on the tank’s surface.

• Drips or any signs of leaks around the oil filter or valves.

• Fuel oil lines not covered in a protective casing — even if under concrete.

• Overhanging eaves where snow and ice could fall onto the tank.

• Stains on ground or strong oil odor around the tank location.

• Browning, dying or loss of vegetation around the tank location.

• Silent overfill whistle while tank is being filled — ask fuel delivery person.

• Clogged or restricted tank vent due to snow, ice or insect nests.

• Signs of spills around fill pipe or vent pipe.

• Improperly sized vent pipes — ask fuel delivery person.

• Cracked, stuck or frozen fuel level gauge or signs of fuel around it.

• Underground Heating Fuel Oils Storage Tank Checklist

• Water in the tank — ask fuel delivery person to check.

• Oil or oil sheen in your basement sump or French drain.

• Well water has strange tastes or smells.

• Complaints from neighbors of fuel oil smells.

• Using more than normal amount of fuel.

DEC advises contacting your fuel oil service provider if one or more of those signs is noted.

Report any actual spill or leak of fuel oil to the DEC Spills Hotline: 1-800-457-7362.

For more information on home heating oil tank stewardship, visit the Underground Heating Oil Tanks: A Homeowner’s Guide webpage on DEC’s website.

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