Domestic oil

Domestic oil

This page will give you information about disposal of domestic oil and what to do if heating oil is spilled.

Heating oil leaks

Here you will find information on how to prevent or control an oil leak.

Oil is one of the most common causes of contamination and can affect:

  • human health
  • property
  • water courses
  • plants
  • wildlife
  • soil
  • habitats
Faulty or badly maintained domestic central heating oil tanks cause numerous pollution incidents. Leaked oil can be difficult and expensive to clean, and in some cases has led to evacuation of houses.

By spending a small amount of time and money on preventative maintenance now, you can avoid expensive clean-up costs in the future. 

Oil legislation and bunding requirements
All tanks for outside storage of oils and fuel must be bunded to comply with current oil storage legislation, except for:
Preventing an oil leak
There are ways to prevent an oil leak in your home, such as:
  • checking the condition of your tank and boiler regularly
  • watching out for black stains
  • knowing how much oil you use
  • getting your heating system serviced regularly
  • not overfilling your oil tank
  • keeping the fill points on your tank clear
  • reviewing your home insurance policy to make sure you are covered for oil leaks or spills. Please check that your existing tank, or one you are having installed, is bunded. 
What to do if you have an oil leak
As soon as you become aware of an oil leak or spill, act immediately following these suggestions:
  • Call your household insurance company or landlord and make them aware of the leak. They should arrange a company to deal with the problem.
  • Try to find out where the leak is coming from.
  • Switch off your oil supply at the tank and arrange to have it emptied if needed.
  • Try to stop the leak at the source if possible.
  • Prevent the spill from entering drains by blocking its flow. Use absorbent materials such as earth or sand.
  • If the leak could affect a stream, pond or other water supply, call the Environment Agency.
  • Never use detergents or a hose to wash the spill away.
  • Keep your home well-ventilated by opening windows and doors.
  • If there is a strong smell of oil in your home, call our environmental protection team.
  • Arrange for an engineer to repair or replace your tank or pipework.*
*Northumberland County Council cannot endorse any particular company but a list of accredited companies (to the UK Spill Contractors accreditation scheme) can be found here.

Failure to properly address a significant oil spill could lead to one or more of the following:
  • major liabilities to compensate any damages to neighbouring properties
  • significant loss of value to your property
  • determining the land as "contaminated land" under the Environmental Protection Act 1990