Many cities, counties or municipalities have rules governing these containers. For some, they only regulate larger ones, but others regulate them all. It is important for you to find out what laws govern your area, so you can always be in compliance. Failure to do so could mean a fine or ticket of some sort.
The reason many places regulate these is because if they start to leak, they can do a lot of damage to the local water supply. Even a small leak can make its way to the water table. The average tank lasts around 15 to 30 years. In older houses, the tanks could be even older than that, which is a real hazard.
Do not get stuck with a fine or worse. Keep tabs on the condition of your container. Look for rusty spots or anywhere that seems wet, like the oil could be seeping through slowly, even if it isn’t leaking. If it does leak, the local government could foot you with the cleaning bill. You could try to get your homeowner’s insurance policy to pay for it, but they may not have to. Several policies have a pollution or contamination exclusion, which means you have to pay all the expenses out of your own pocket.
It is much cheaper to periodically check for leaks or other issues. This is easy if the tank is above ground. But if it is below ground, that is a little harder. It is probably easier just to have someone dig it up and replace it than to test it if it is buried. Also consider that a test only tells you what is going on right now. A week later, things could change drastically.
Even if you have an above ground model, you will want a professional to come out and service it or replace it if need be. Only an experienced installer should do this, because the pipes and fittings must be perfect in order for it not to leak. They can also make sure the piece is level so there are no oil flow problems later. In addition, your insurance may only cover the tank if it was installed by a professional.
Even after it is properly installed, you need to maintain it. If you get a lot of snow in the winter, make sure and take a broom and knock off the snow from the top. If there are icicles nearby that could fall in it, make sure you remove them.
Call your insurance company and make sure the new tank is covered. But it is still up to you to keep it clear of snow or debris, and to especially check it for structural integrity after any inclement weather. A few minutes now could save you a ton of time and money later.