Letter Re: Advice on an Underground Fuel Tank Installation and Use

Mr. Rawles:
Can you direct me to where I can learn how to bury 300 gallon fuel tanks correctly? Also, how to get the fuel out if there is no power. Thanks, – Mark T.

JWR Replies: Unless you expect to use your fuel tank on a daily basis, then I recommend that you install just a manual (hand) pump. These are available from most tank dealers.

If it will be buried in rocky ground, first put down a 4-inch layer of sand, to minimize risk of punctures during installation. Otherwise, burial is pretty straightforward. Be sure to read this general guide on preventing leaks that was published by Oklahoma State University, and this fuel tank safety document, published by the state of North Dakota.

If you buy a used tank, have it pressure tested. If you are getting a steel tank, a coating of asphalt emulsion–although it is a messy job–will extend the life of your tank. Also, talk to your tank dealer about installing a sacrificial zinc anode for cathodic corrosion protection. Together, those two measures can greatly extend the life of a steel tank.

OBTW, see my reply to this posted letter for some ideas on camouflaging your tank’s pump head, to prevent fuel thefts.