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General Loss Control

Fuel Oil Tank

Like most metal products, a fuel oil tank located on your property will deteriorate over time. Water and sludge in the bottom of the tank, or the effect of exterior corrosion will eventually cause small pinhole leaks resulting in contamination to soil. Over time, attachments and leg support of the tank also deteriorate also resulting in leaks or tanks collapsing to the ground. It is imperative that the tank sits on stable bracing and that fuel lines are protected from physical damage and deterioration. A concrete base is also important.


Oil spills from home heating fuel oil tanks often involve significant quantities of leaked oil. Spills resulting from toppled tanks and leaking lines are more likely to occur when the tank has just been filled or is in the process of being filled.

When oil leaches through the ground, it can spread several hundred meters to contaminate wells, water tables and waterways. One liter of oil can contaminate one million liters of water to the point that it is not only unsafe, but may be detected in the smell and taste of the water.

Family Health

Fuel oil contains a small amount of benzene, a known carcinogen. If you can smell fuel oil upon entering your home, immediate action should be taken to investigate the source of the odour. Prolonged exposure could pose a significant health risk to you and your family. Prolonged exposure, even with minor spills, may affect your ability to smell the odour since you become desensitized to that particular odour over time.

Financial Loss

Millions of dollars have been paid by mutual insurance companies in Canada in recent years, to cover the cost of cleaning up oil spills. The cost of cleanup may range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most of these spills have resulted from tanks that are 15 years of age or older. But even new tanks can fail unexpectedly.

Common Causes of Oil Spills

  • Pinhole leaks from interior or exterior corrosion
  • Damaged fuel lines or filters from falling snow or ice
  • Oil tank legs collapse from corrosion
  • Leaking pump, atomizer, or fuel oil filter
  • Oil tank topples as a result of an unstable base or footing
  • Vehicle impact to outside of tank

Heating with Wood

Wood burning appliances such as a woodstove, wood furnace, pellet stove and woodstove insert can be a fire hazard. When necessary, our WETT (Wood Energy Technical Transfer) code compliance Specialist will be assessing each one for code compliancy.

One of the most common fire hazards comes from the buildup of creosote in pipes and chimneys. Have your chimney cleaned regularly and store your wood in a dry place. In addition, flue pipes deteriorate over a period of time and need replacement. See attached Woodstove Questionnaire which shows a typical installation which is code compliant. Secondly, these units require fresh air and often are in conflict with other systems which evacuate fresh air outside your home such as a furnace, hot water tank, and kitchen and bathroom fans. A home must never be in a negative air pressure environment.

Attached you will find our Woodstove Questionnaire which we welcome you to fill in and submit to your representative or our Loss Control Department and we will report back any serious deficiencies and help you to protect your family and home. Furthermore, our Department can provide tips on how to get the maximum value from your installation to save you money in heating costs. A non compliant installation is not only a fire hazard but also an inefficient / high operating cost alternative.

To ensure your policy is in good order, contact us to advise us of your wood heat installation.