ILC panelist Neil Stothart shares advice on oil leaks

Back in February and March, as a result of the impacts from flooding, families found themselves leaving their homes to allow repairs to be carried out by their insurers, thinking they would return within a matter of weeks.  They now find themselves in June and much of the planned work for the property hasn’t even started.  Many of these homes use oil fired boilers so you might think that when the heating system isn’t in use, all will be fine – well think again!

Following the unprecedented rainfall at the start of the year, we’re now experiencing an unseasonably warm spring and that will put significant stress on oil tanks, particularly older plastic ones.  The dry weather also results in increased levels of subsidence which will put a strain on both oil tanks and the fuel feed lines.  Homeowners are obviously the first to notice any new smells coming from a boiler in their house, however, if the house is vacant, any changes will go unnoticed.

Experience suggests that we will see an increase in the severity of the damage from oil leaks during this recent period.  They simply won’t have been identified so early. 

We strongly advise that suppliers, loss adjusters and insurers take steps to ensure that ongoing leaks are stopped and that oil already lost to ground and property structures doesn’t cause further impact and result in even larger claims.  Simple things to look for should include:

  • Oil level in tank compared to homeowner’s records
  • Increased odours or staining in the vicinity of the boiler
  • Staining on the wall or floor around where the feedline enters the property
  • Fresh staining around the tank or tank base
  • Vegetation die back to lawns or hedges near the tank or along the route of the feedline
  • Site gauges becoming dislodged


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