How to Fix a Slow Leak in a Heating Oil Tank

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Things You'll Need

  • 50-gallon garbage containers, as many needed to hold the remaining oil in the tank.

  • 2-tube cold-weld compound of liquid steel/epoxy and hardener

  • Syphon pump

  • Rough and fine grit sandpaper.

  • Aluminum pie plate

  • Wood paint stirring stick

  • Soft cotton rags

  • Soap and water


You may download the International Standards for tank repair and reconstruction from the website listed in references.


Large oil tanks may require complete relining, rather than just fixing a few corroded areas.

Oil storage may take place above or below ground.

You want to get through the winter as economically as possible, but you have just discovered that your oil tank has a small leak. In addition to losing your investment in the oil, you may be required to remove and replace the soil contaminated by the oil. You know that fixing the leak will save you money in the long run, but you also want to know a cheap and effective way to plug that leak in the short term.

Fix the leak and protect the soil.

Step 1

As soon as you determine you have an oil leak, act quickly to prevent any further contamination of your soil. Pump all the remaining oil out of the tank with a syphon pump. Pump oil into 50 gallon trash containers with lids. Use as many trash containers as necessary.

Step 2

Thoroughly examine the tank from the inside and/or the outside to see if there is additional corrosion that may produce a leak if it were to go unchecked.

Step 3

For each area of corrosion, remove rust and wash thoroughly with soap and water. Rinse with water.

Step 4

Sand all corroded areas with rough, then fine-grit sandpaper. Make sure you have removed all instances of corrosion.

Step 5

Wipe sanded areas with soft cloth to remove all sanded residue.

Step 6

Squeeze out equal amounts of patching compound from each of the tubes on the aluminum pie pan. Mix together with paint stirring stick until thoroughly blended.

Step 7

Place mixed patching compound onto all the prepared areas. You can apply it with the paint stirring stick in an even coat or push it into the leak and leave a small bump of patch.

Step 8

Wait the length of time recommended by the manufacturer for the compound to cure. Depending on the product you have chosen, this may vary from 4 to 24 hours.

Step 9

Wrap any unused patching compound and items you no longer need in newspaper and place in the trash.

Step 10

After the compound has cured, replace the oil in the garbage containers with the syphon pump.

references & resources

Jenny Landis-Steward

Jenny Landis-Steward has written reports for child welfare research for over 14 years. She has a master's degree in clinical psychology. She was the editor of two social service agency publications for seven years. Her economic thesis was an analysis of employment trends.