If you live in New York State and have a red oil tank in your basement you could be on borrowed time.

We have lived in our house for 25 years and, thankfully, never had any major issues with our furnace or oil tank. The huge old clunker of a boiler in our basement has been chugging along faithfully since the 1980s. Aside from a few minor mechanical issues, the only headaches our heating system ever gave us was when we looked at our oil bill.

That all changed last week.

"Oh No, Not Another Red Oil Tank"

The day after receiving an oil delivery, my wife noticed a small puddle on the basement floor. The two-inch wet spot was directly under the big, red tank that holds 275 gallons of heating oil.

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Fearing the worst, I investigated the source of the puddle and discovered that it was, indeed, oil dripping from the side of the tank. The thick liquid was weeping out of a small rusty patch on the side of the tank right above the seam. I quickly called our oil company in a panic as I pictured hundreds of gallons of fuel oil flooding my basement.

In less than an hour a technician arrived at our house. As he walked into the basement he took one look at our tank and sighed, "Oh no, not another red oil tank".

Beware If You Have a Red Oil Tank

It turns out that the specific tank that we have in our basement was a popular choice about 30 years or so ago. Over the past few years, these tanks have all begun to fail, causing nightmares for homeowners who have been devastated by expensive fuel oil spills in their basements.

As the technician surveyed the status of our tank he said we were extremely lucky to find the leak so soon. He shared several stories of other clients who were not as lucky, saying that he's seen "grown men cry" after realizing just how much damage had been done to their home.

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The worker quickly arranged for an emergency pump truck to arrive at our home to remove the fuel and place it in a temporary tank so our furnace would still function while we figured out how to get a new tank installed. He mentioned that finding a spare tank could be difficult because there were three other homes with red tanks that just found themselves in the same situation this week.

What to Do if You Have a Red Oil Tank

Just because you have a red oil tank doesn't mean it's about to fail, but if the container is over 20 years old it's certainly something that you should get checked out sooner than later. If you've noticed a fuel smell or seen any oil spots on the tank or the ground underneath, it could be a telltale sign that you're long overdue for a new oil tank.

Did you know that most of the oil companies in the Hudson Valley are actually owned by one of four huge corporations? Click here to find out who really runs the "small business" you get your oil from.

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