Home Inspection, If Pre-1960 then Check for UST

Whenever we do a pre-1960 West Vancouver home inspection, it’s a special occasion.  A walk through history is always of interest, to see construction methods from half a century ago.

Some of those methods have left their legacy issues behind. In this post we discuss one such item that cannot be overlooked.

In the 1950’s and earlier, in this region the heating fuel of choice was heavy oil.

By the 1960’s natural gas pipelines started being installed along the North Shore and Sunshine Coast. The switch to natural gas came swiftly because of it’s convenience, economy, smaller equipment footprint, clean burn and lack of odour when compared to oil.

As a result, oil furnace were ripped out and replaced with a gas unit. If the oil storage tank was above ground it was also removed. Unfortunately a buried tank was usually just abandoned in-place.

If not properly decommissioned, these underground storage tanks (UST’s) and their connecting piping to the furnace are an environmental liability. Buried metal rusts and its contained fluid leaks out.

Depending on how thoroughly the buried tank and piping were decommissioned, will determine if the soil in its vicinity is contaminated with hydrocarbon residue.

It is now mandatory to remove UST’s, which can be costly. An environmental assessment has to be carried out to determine if the soil is contaminated. If it is, then remediation is required by a certified contractor.

Every pre-1960 property should be checked for a UST. West Vancouver’s requirements are noted here.  Other cities, towns and districts will have similar guidelines.