Necessary Steps to Staying Warm and Fuzzy this Winter…

By September 30, 2011, homeowners must upgrade their home heating system equipment in order to prevent leaks from tanks and pipes that connect to the furnace. Making this relatively small investment now will prevent a much greater expense in the future.

Massachusetts has a new law to address oil leaks from home heating systems; this law has two major specifications that require:

  • the installation of either an oil safety valve or an oil supply line with protective sleeve on systems that do not currently have these devices;
  • insurance companies that write homeowner policies to offer coverage for leaks from heating systems that use oil.

Most homeowner policies do not currently include such coverage, leaving many to pay for costly cleanups out of their own pocket. Although it has been mandatory since July 2010 that insurance companies make such coverages available, it still remains an optional purchase.

Who must take action?

Owners of one to four unit residences that are heated with oil MUST already have or will be installing an oil safety valve or an oil supply line with a protective sleeve. Heating oil systems installed on or after January 1990 are most likely, already in compliance because state fire codes required such installations at that time.

Who is exempt?

Homeowners are exempt from said prevention steps if:

  • the oil burner is located above the oil storage tank and the entire oil supply line is connected to and above the top of the tank;
  • an oil safety valve or supply line with protective sleeve was installed on or after January 2010;
  • those changes are in compliance with the oil burning equipment regulations (a copy of the oil burner permit from the local fire department may be used to demonstrate compliance).

Why comply?

Not only is compliance required, but it also makes good financial and environmental sense. Taking these preventative measures can avoid the disruption and expense caused by heating oil leaks. A leak may result in exposure to petroleum vapors in your home; if such leak reaches soil and other contents of the underground, be prepared to have a cleanup performed in order to restore the property to environmental standards. However, if the leak affects neighbor’s property or the public water supply, further complications could result, increasing the overall expense.


The typical cost of installing an oil safety valve or oil supply line with protective sleeve ranges from $150 – $350, including labor, parts and local permit fees. If this seems expensive for an out-of-pocket expense, consider the alternatives: digging up an additional $15,000 for a “simple” leak cleanup or $250, 000 for the more extensive, deep clean feeling.

To continue getting that warm and fuzzy feeling this winter, contact an agent at your local Worcester insurance agency to learn about the insurance options available and what steps to take next.

You may also visit for more information.

Published in: on December 18, 2010 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

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