CBC NEWS

If you’re heating your home with oil, you’d better pay attention to what shape your tank is in.

That’s because a leaking tank can be a major liability, with potentially massive clean up costs — and insurance companies won’t necessarily cover them.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) says homeowners can be 100 per cent responsible for clean up costs, which could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Current standards require homeowners to have a double-walled tank with a inner liner of plastic and a solid concrete pad. The tank has to be bolted down in case of an earthquake.

And real estate agents often encourage homeowners to replace their tanks as part of selling a home.

“A lot of people don’t realize the biggest [surprise] right now, if you’re selling a property, chances are that real estate will want you to replace the tank as part of the deal,” says Peter Kennedy, a burner mechanic for Griffiths Heating & Sheet Metal in Whitehorse.

He says some people get “sticker shock” when they realize that selling their house means replacing the oil tank.

“Most replacement tanks in the Yukon can cost upwards of $5,000 to replace. Insurance companies are making all the rules,” says Kennedy.

He says the price of a new oil tank has been steadily going up in recent years. And sometimes there are also additional costs associated with replacing an aging tank.

“I even found out this morning from a customer that insurance companies would like to have soil samples taken before the pad is poured — and that could run you $1,000, plus a new tank,” Kennedy said.

“It’s extremely important that people maintain and inspect their tanks on a regular basis to be preventing any type of loss or damage,” says Rob de Pruis of the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

“So it’s in your best interest to make sure that you’re properly inspecting and maintaining your fuel oil tank.”

He says insurance policies don’t typically cover the cost of a fuel oil spill on one’s property.

Collin Remillard, manager of environmental compliance and inspections for the Yukon government, has seen his fair share of fuel tank oil spills in the Yukon.

“Some insurance companies will sell oil damage insurance to your property, but you must have a certified oil tank for that to happen,” Remillard said.

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