Quick Takeaways

  • Corrosion is the most common reason for leaks
  • Improper installation is another cause of leaks
  • External damage from construction activities or natural disasters may also cause leaks

Source: Top Causes of Underground Storage Tank Leaks (Environmental Works, Jan. 17, 2023)

Until the mid-1980s most underground storage tanks (USTs) were made of bare steel, which is likely to corrode over time and allow UST contents to leak into the environment. The greatest potential hazard from a leaking UST is that its contents (petroleum or other hazardous substances) can seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater, the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans. Owners of USTs must comply with strict regulations regarding installation, monitoring, maintenance, and closure of tanks. Non-compliance can result in fines and penalties.

The EPA keeps track of underground storage tanks performance measures, such as cleanups and inspections. Removing and disposing of old tanks is a complex process that a lot of home buyers do not want to undertake. For that reason, many REALTORS® recommend removing them before sale. 

Overall, the impact of USTs on property value hinges on their condition, compliance with regulations, environmental risk, and market perception. Well-managed USTs can add value, but those with issues or liabilities can decrease property value significantly.

See References for more information.

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