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How do I dispose of old fioul oil if change heating system in France?

You must in fact remove your entire tank and grants are available to help with this. We explain

Several types of aid are available to help transition away from oil-fired heating systems Pic: Marcel Derweduwen / Shutterstock

Reader Question: I no longer use my oil-fired central heating system and want to get rid of the old oil in the tank for safety. Are there legal requirements surrounding this? 

We note that you do not plan to use the oil tank in the future and, therefore, you must in fact get rid of the entire tank and not just the old fioul oil inside it.

A 2004 law on storing petroleum products states that unused oil tanks must be removed and disposed of by specialists due to their flammability and risk of explosion.

It is then the responsibility of the firm chosen to take away the tank to also remove any excess oil and to neutralise the tank during the removal procedure.

Unfortunately, tank removal can be expensive and there are several factors that can increase the price, such as the size and material of the tank, how the materials are recycled, and the distance of the tank from a road (if the tank is more than 30 metres from a road, a special truck must be hired to transport the old tank), etc.

There is aid available to help with oil tank removal 

Due to the costly and unecological nature of fuel oil tanks, a number of aids are available to help people move away from this heating option including for removing the remaining oil and tank from your property.

  • Under the MaPrimeRenov’ scheme, you can receive a reimbursement of up to €10,000 for removing an old oil tank, depending on what you replace the system with - you can check this official website as to your eligibility for this

  • You can convert a chèque energie into a voucher to help finance renovation work and this can include the removal of an oil tank

  • A so-called coup de pouce’ grant, offered by most energy suppliers, granting up to €5,400 for the transition from an oil-fueled boiler to a more energy efficient system

  • The zero-interest eco-loan for ecological renovations

Some of these aids, like the zero-interest eco-loan and the MaPrimeRenov,’ are not available for second homes.

Read more: France offers more money to households replacing their old boilers

What if I plan to keep the oil tank? 

If you do decide to only remove the oil and keep the tank because you intend to use it again at some point, you should contact a professional service to clean the tank.

You are not allowed to degas or neutralise your tank - this service must be carried out by a professional with the relevant qualifications, and simply cleaning or removing the tank of excess oil requires specialist equipment.

The cost of this service can range from around €300 to €800 but it is essential for keeping the oil tank safe and usable.

You can search online for local services to do this but they will probably also recommend removing the tank if it is no longer used.

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