New Home Heating Oil Law Goes Into Effect In September
Q. I heard that there is a new law regarding homes with oil heat that will require owners to ensure that they have equipment installed to prevent leaks from tanks and fuel lines. When does it go into effect and what do we need to do?
A. The new law requires that by September 30, 2011, owners of one- to four-unit residences that are heated with oil must already have or will need to install an oil safety valve or an oil supply line with a protective sleeve on their heating equipment. Installation of these devices must be performed by a licensed oil burner technician. Technicians are employed by companies that deliver home heating oil, or they are self-employed. It is important to note that heating oil systems installed on or after January 1, 1990 are most likely already in compliance because state fire codes implemented these requirements on new installations at that time.
For those who need to install this equipment, state officials estimate that the typical cost of installing either an oil safety valve or oil supply line with a protective sleeve ranges from $150 to $350 (including labor, parts, and local permit fees). While it is an expense that is not insignificant, the costs to clean up a leak can be thousands of dollars.
It is important for home owners to remember that this rule applies to all home owners, regardless of whether they are selling their home or not. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has an excellent, easy-to-understand document that explains this new rule. The document can be found on MAR’s website in the Bay State REALTOR® section under Law and Ethics, or from DEP direct at www.mass.gov/dep/cleanup/laws/hhsl.htm
Q. I have a listing that has pipes in the basement that appear to be insulated in asbestos. The seller said he heard that his house would sell faster if it were removed, so he said he was “going to take care of it.” I’m afraid he’s going to try to remove it himself. What can I do to protect him, as well as myself?
A. Explain to your client that the worst thing he can do is try to remove it himself. Removal may very well be unnecessary and it is definitely dangerous to his family's health, as well as his own. In fact, the state’s DEP explicitly states that if asbestos is in good condition, no state or federal law requires its removal.
There are a lot of jobs around your home where being a do-it-yourselfer can be fun and safe. Asbestos removal is most certainly not one of them. Asbestos is a potentially fatal disease that is caused by the inhalation of asbestos fibers. Disturbance of asbestos insulation by attempting its removal can cause the release of these fibers into the air in the home. You should provide your client with information about asbestos to help him understand why following your advice on this issue is essential. DEP’s information and FAQ sheet is located at the following web address: www.mass.gov/dep/air/asbguid.htm