Heating Oil Tank Vent Pipe Information

Vent pipes are on the outside of homes. They have a small cap or in rare circumstances an upside down ‘J’ bend. In addition one set of staples connects the vent to the siding in most cases. If you see a vent pipe then oil heat was present at one point and one or more underground heating oil tanks may still be present in the ground. In this case scheduling an oil tank search is recommended.

Oil Tank Signs: The Vent Pipe

This pipe is almost always 1.5″ in diameter. Sometimes a ‘paint shadow’ exists on the siding. This occurs if the vent pipe was present for many decades of home painting and was then removed.

Rush Locates presents: Oil Tank Signs - a picture of a vent pipe cap


The vent can come from an Above-ground Storage Tank (AST) or an Underground Storage Tank (UST) in this case a Heating Oil Tank (HOT) or a gasoline tank. Gas tanks exist more often in rural areas but also if a previous owner was working on cars in a garage.

small pipe on side of house in photo

The Vent Pipe

If the a vent pipe is present then Oil Heat was once used in the home and underground tanks are likely. Schedule an Oil Tank Search online day or night to find out.

picture of oil tank vent pipe on house siding

Occasionally a vent can exit the tank without any elbows and go straight up. In these very rare cases the vent and fill are nearby each other in the yard.

photo of oil tank vent pipe with curve at top

Vents may be acting as a trellis, fencepost, or even an electrical ground. During a decom a vent should be at made invisible, to least 6″ below the ground surface at that time.

When viewing a paintshadow that might have been a vent pipe, check for two sets of staple marks. Gutters are usually attach to the siding on the home with two sets of staples. Vent pipes almost always have only one set. Check around the home on the corners of the eves where rain gutter downspouts would likely be locates. If you spot something and don’t want to call in a tank search yet try digging right below the shadow. If you find a 1-1/2 inch pipe below the paintshadow you may have found a vent pipe!

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