Oct 14 , 2019

Why Old Homes Have Small Galvanized Pipes Sticking Out of the Ground


Do you live in an old home? If so, have you noticed two mysterious galvanized pipes sticking out of the ground in your yard? Those small, galvanized pipes are signs of something much bigger below the ground!

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While natural gas and electricity power most furnaces today, many pre-1970s homes had fuel-oil powered furnaces and with that came an underground fuel oil tank. Evidence of this reveals itself in that pair of galvanized steel pipes sticking out of the ground within a couple feet of each other. Beneath, an abandoned fuel oil tank lurks.

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If the pipes are still intact, one will have a mushroom-shape cover (this was the vent pipe), while the other has a hinged flap on top (this was the fill pipe). However, in many cases, the top pieces are long gone, so you may simply see two old pipes with threaded ends.

When the pipes are right next to each other, the fuel oil tank was likely located within the house. If separated from each other, there’s probably still a buried fuel oil tank in the yard.

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An old fuel oil tank in the basement takes up space and is pretty big job to remove, but a buried tank is a much bigger problem. The buried tank could still have oil in it, and a rusted tank shell could allow contamination of the surrounding soil. An empty tank is of concern as well, since the rust-through shell could collapse, causing the soil to cave in around it.

If you live in an old home, especially one built prior to World War II, you may have a piece of wood molding on your walls about a foot below the ceiling. Here’s what it’s for!

If you have a buried tank in your yard, it needs to be removed or filled in place. If you have a tank located inside the house, it should be disassembled and removed. Contact you local residential building inspector’s office for recommendations regarding tank removal.

Ready to modernize? Here are 10 ways to take advantage of new technology in your old house.

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