As of September 30, 2011 any home that is serviced by an oil fired heating system in Massachusetts must comply with a new law that requires home owners to upgrade their system equipment to prevent leaks.
The new legislation is designed to prevent leaks from pipes and equipment that connect to your furnace. The law was originally set to become effective on July 1, 2010 but was extended.
The new law is addressed in Chapter 453 of the Acts of 2008. The two biggest provisions of the law change include the following:
- The installation of either an oil safety valve or an oil supply line with a protective sleeve on systems that do not already have these devices in place.
- Insurance companies that provide home owners insurance policies must offer coverage for oil tank leaks from heating systems that use oil.
What is important to note is that most home owners policies do not currently include coverage for oil leaks leaving home owners to fend for themselves with costly clean up bills. The new law makes it mandatory for insurance companies to offer coverage, however it is up to the individual home owner to purchase this optional insurance. Implementation of the insurance coverage will also start as of September 30, 2010.
Who must take action?
Homeowners of one to four unit dwellings that are heated with oil must already have or install an oil safety value or an oil supply line with a protective sleeve. Installation of these parts must be completed by a licensed oil burner technician.
If your home was built after January 1 1990, you are more than likely already in compliance with the new law because state fire codes were changed to require these parts on new installations at that time.
Who is exempt?
Homeowners are not required to comply with these leak prevention steps if the oil burner is
- Located above the oil storage tank and the entire oil line is connected to and above the top of the tank.
- An oil safety valve or oil supply line with protective sleeve was installed on or after January 1, 1990 and
- The changes are in compliance with the oil burning equipment regulations. The copy of the oil burner permit from the local fire department may be used to demonstrate you are in compliance.
Complying with this new law is a no brainer! The cost of cleaning up an oil spill is very expensive. The cost of making this upgrade is very cheap. We are talking about a few hundred dollars to make these upgrades. Why take a chance and be left with a bill that could cripple you financially!
If you are unfortunate enough to have a leak and it reaches the soil beneath your home then a clean up is going to be necessary to bring your property back into compliance with state environmental standards. If the leak is severe enough and it impacts your neighbors or the local ground water supply the bill is going to be astronomical.
In Massachusetts, reports indicate that there are a few hundred spills a year. If you have a spill the cost for clean up on the low end is going to be $15000 to $20,000 dollars. A high end clean up can easily get into the hundreds of thousands! Who would ever want to deal with this kind of nightmare when it is so easy to avoid? I know if I owned a home that was built prior that 1990 I would not want to even think about such a catastrophe. I would make darn sure I was compliant right away!
What Kind of Insurance is available to home owners?
In order to be eligible for coverage you must make sure that your home is either compliant or exempt from the new law.
The insurance will provide “1st party coverage” of at least $50,000 to cover the expenses of cleaning up a leak to soils, indoor air, or other environmental media from a home heating system at the residence itself and also reimbursement for personal property damage.
Secondly you must provide for “third party coverage” of at least $200,000 for dealing with any problems that occurred as a direct result of the leak for damage off of the property. This could be a near by home or the local ground water. The insurance coverage will also include costs for legal fees subject to a deductible not to exceed $1000 per claim.
*** The key point to remember with the Massachusetts Oil Heating and Insurance law is that an upgrade is more than likely be necessary only if your home was built prior to 1990.
A special thanks goes out to Rory Warren of Warren Home Inspections who made me aware that this new law would be going into effect. Rory mentioned there is some talk about asking home inspectors to police homeowners who are not compliant with the law at the time of a home inspection. What is more likely is that the oil company that services and delivers oil to the home will be responsible for making sure the home owner is compliant.
If you are thinking of selling your home in Massachusetts one other law that is going into effect in Massachusetts concerning home safety is the Massachusetts Smoke Detector Law. You can read the complete article on the law by clicking the link. The basics of the new regulations is that as of April 5, 2010 you will be required when selling a home to have certain kinds of smoke detectors.
Other Real Estate articles worth reading:
About the author: The above Real Estate information on the Massachusetts oil heating and insurance law changes was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 508-435-5356. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 24+ Years.
Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!
I service the following towns in Metrowest MA: Hopkinton, Milford, Upton, Southboro, Westboro, Ashland, Holliston, Mendon, Hopedale, Medway, Franklin, Framingham, Grafton, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Northboro, Bellingham, Uxbridge, and Douglas.
When clicked on chapter 458, it comes up as chapter 453
“If your home was built prior to January 1 1990, you are more than likely already in compliance with the new law because state fire codes were changed to require these parts on new installations at that time.”
Shouldn’t above statement read “as after 1990 instead prior to 1990”
Patel – Prior to 1990 these changes were not in effect. It is more likely that if your home was built before 1990 you may not be in compliance with the law. I do see the typo and have fixed it.
Patel is right. Please re-read…..”If your home was built prior to January 1 1990, you are more than likely already in compliance with the new law because state fire codes were changed to require these parts on new installations at that time.”
That makes no sense….
If you home was built after 1990, not prior, then you would have to be in compliance with the new laws…..
In other words if you have an old house you will have to fork over some dough to update……
Steve & Patel – thanks for pointing out my typo. I have made the correction:)
I need to have the oil lines removed due to replacing system with gas. What is the procedure for removing the lines? Do we need to cap the lines themselves or is it just enough to remove the line as is?
Gilon it is my understanding that the lines can be capped but I would check with any oil local heating contractor to be certain. It is possible some towns could require you to completely remove the old oil lines. There have been situations where oil companies have delivered oil to homes thinking the fill line was still active and dumped hundreds of gallons of oil into a basement!
what happens if you do the upgrade after 9/30/2011? Also who is liable if the technician does it imperfectly? How do you know if they did it correctly? Thanks
John I would imagine the oil company would stand behind their work and would remedy if they did not do the job properly. I suppose you could ask the building inspector to look for you if you feel it was not done properly.
Any idea how this will be implemented within the resale of a property? Assuming its not caught and corrected at the home inspection stage, will this be added to the fire departments smoke/co2 inspection?
Mary if this violation is not caught at the home inspection then there is something seriously wrong with the inspector! The oil company that delivers the fuel is also supposed to monitor this as well.