MA home heating upgrade

Our insurance contributor, Nadine Heaps of Purple Ink Insurance, is back to talk about recent changes to the Mass. home oil heating law.

Massachusetts Homeowner Oil Heating System Upgrade and Insurance Law (click for Fact Sheet)

By September 30, 2011, you must upgrade your home heating system equipment to prevent leaks from tanks and pipes that connect to your furnace. By making a relatively small expenditure now, you can prevent a much greater expense in the future.

The new rules:

Residential property owners of 1-4 units who heat with oil must:

  • Enclose fuel lines that lead to and from the tank in a continuous non-metallic sleeve, or
  • Install a safety valve (or other Board approved release prevention method) at the tank-end of the supply line.
  • Get the work done by a licensed oil burner technician, whether an independent or one employed by your oil supplier.

The law applies to both above and underground tanks and to any fuel supply or return lines in direct contact with concrete, earth, or other floor surface.

Are you exempt from the new law?

You’re exempt if:

  • Your oil burner is above the storage tank and the entire supply line is connected to, and is above, the top of the tank, or
  • A safety valve or supply line with protective sleeve was installed on or after January 1, 1990, as long as those changes comply with oil burning regulations (proved by an oil burner permit from the local fire department, or a certificate from a licensed technician).
  • The law does not allow for grandfathering.

Why take required preventive measures?

It makes financial and environmental sense because:

  • You’ll avoid the disruption and expense that can be caused by leaks.
  • You and your family will not be exposed to petroleum vapors in your home.
  • The soil or groundwater beneath your house will not be contaminated.
  • You won’t face a costly cleanup to restore your property—and possibly nearby property and drinking water supplies—to state environmental standards.

Cleanup costs for a “simple” leak can be as much as $15,000, but if the leak affects the groundwater, or is more extensive, costs can reach $250,000 or more.

You can be covered!

Your insurance company must now offer you oil spill coverage if you’re already in compliance with the new law or you make the modifications needed to achieve compliance. Many companies already provide coverage; others will add it for an additional premium.

Please contact Nadine Heaps at 508-881-6680 for assistance.