Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
Private profiles - please note that profiles marked as private will soon be public. This will facilitate moderation so mods can view users' warning histories. All of your posts across the site will appear on your profile page (including PI, RI). Groups posts will remain private except to users who have access to the same Groups as you. Thread here
Some important site news, please read here. Thanks!

Survey - Potential oil leak

  • 30-03-2021 7:41pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 271 ✭✭ Turkish1


    Hi

    Have gone sale agreed on a house and just received the surveyors report. It is noted in there that there is a potential oil leak (there is a mild smell of oil in the property) and that this should be investigated. Also potential that oil has penetrated into the ground.

    How would one go about investigating this? It has been mentioned to the EA and will be passed onto the vendor but colour me skeptical I would want to get my own investigation of same done.

    Anyone any thoughts?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 30 ✭✭✭ K.Hawksworth


    Is there an oil tank in the garden, or neighbours garden? Where could it be coming from?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,760 ✭✭✭ ongarite


    Walk away from the property.
    Oil/Kerosene spills are potentially very very serious depending how close the spill or tank is to the house & the foundations.

    If the smell is indoors then it has permeated the foundations and the house is near worthless.

    It will need to be dug out and possibly EPA involved if it is a serious leak.
    Remediation can cost thousands and you may not get home insurance for the purchase if it's been flagged as known issue before purchase.

    https://touch.boards.ie/thread/2057936551

    https://touch.boards.ie/thread/2057591646


  • Registered Users Posts: 408 ✭✭ ec_pc


    I tend to agree with last poster, be prepared to walk away. My parents had an oil leak detected in their house in 2019. The built the house in the early 1980's and it has an indoor oil burner which was replaced in 2018. I noticed a smell of kerosene shortly after but it was faint and put down to a spillage when putting in the new boiler.

    Fast forward about 3 months and some pink markings appeared on skirting board in utility room about 12 feet from the boiler. Confirmed as oil leak and it had been leaking for some time. Advised to involve insurance company who were excellent to deal with.

    Anyhow, they had to move out for 3 months, internal walls knocked, floors dug down to about 4 feet deep, all soil bagged, (sent to Amsterdam I think for disposal), handmade kitchen thrown out, all floor coverings removed and then all made good. New kitchen, floor and wall tiles, skirting and so on.

    This involved environmental experts appointed by insurance co.

    End bill was €190,000 give or take. All footed by Insurance co including rent paid for 3 months to live elsewhere.


  • Registered Users Posts: 6,072 ✭✭✭ CoBo55


    Turkish1 wrote: »
    Hi

    Have gone sale agreed on a house and just received the surveyors report. It is noted in there that there is a potential oil leak (there is a mild smell of oil in the property) and that this should be investigated. Also potential that oil has penetrated into the ground.

    How would one go about investigating this? It has been mentioned to the EA and will be passed onto the vendor but colour me skeptical I would want to get my own investigation of same done.

    Anyone any thoughts?

    I wouldn't investigate anything just walk away it will be a nightmare.


  • Registered Users Posts: 271 ✭✭ Turkish1


    Hmmm alot of food for thought.

    In terms of where it could be coming from - I am quite building/diy naive, it is clearly OFCH, the boiler is in a small outdoor room in the side passage.

    Oil tank in back garden, however the smell was strongest in the front sitting room (from recollection but couldn't swear it). Could definitely smell in the front hall and front sitting room which from what people are saying appears to be an extremely bad sign.

    Unfortunately in the times we are in I have only physically viewed the house once. Will ensure I get back in shortly.

    We had always intended doing a refurb including a full replumb and change to Gas and I (apparently) stupidly thought that this would resolve the problem.

    While I would obviously be disappointed I am quite detached and cold when it comes to financial decisions so will walk if required (the Other half will take it much harder)


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 408 ✭✭ ec_pc


    Does not sound good based on what you said, if you can smell it in the hall and sitting room then there must be contamination somewhere in the house. Very hard to know the true problem without a very detailed inspection and even at that costs could just run away on you.

    If it was me, I'd be withdrawing offer hard and all as that may be. Unless vendor offers a massive discount, but even at that is it worth it?


  • Registered Users Posts: 271 ✭✭ Turkish1


    ec_pc wrote: »
    Does not sound good based on what you said, if you can smell it in the hall and sitting room then there must be contamination somewhere in the house. Very hard to know the true problem without a very detailed inspection and even at that costs could just run away on you.

    If it was me, I'd be withdrawing offer hard and all as that may be. Unless vendor offers a massive discount, but even at that is it worth it?

    Appears to be the most likely approach. Disappointing, and partially because we have gone sale agreed on our own house but will likely have to withdraw from that sales process also as a result - will feel horrible about it but ultimately have to look after number one.

    Would the fact that it can't be smelled outdoor near the tank and nothing visible be a good or bad sign? i.e. would it point to a minor spill related to the boiler that may be causing the smell in the house due to proximity?

    Just so I explore all avenues (in the very unlikely event we stay in this process past the end of this week). From what I am gathering
    1. Given smell in house it is unlikely to be a minor spill
    2. Plumber/general builder would not be able to assess potential damage
    3. Would need expert assessment (from an oil remediation company)
    4. Likely requires notification to Local council and/or EPA
    5. Difficult to assess the ultimate cost
    6. Would probably be covered under current owners insurance but not under insurance policy of a new owner as it is a pre-existing condition
    7. Would be a long drawn out process to remediate - i.e. appears that 6months + is the minimum
    8. Regardless of already intended refurb (new plumbing, change to gas, kitchen, doors etc..) the costs would be really related to remediating the oil spill in the soil/subfloor/foundations so none of the intended refurb would really help.
    9. therefore would be critical that current owner remedies and confirmation from oil remediation company that issues have been resolved and no further exposure (unlikely to give such a report I would imagine?)


  • Registered Users Posts: 408 ✭✭ ec_pc


    Yeah, I can understand it's a tough position to be in. However you really need to fully understand the extent of the issue - is it a serious problem or not and only the relevant experts can tell that. In my parents case they could not tell until they removed plaster, removed 1 block for testing and dug a sample hole in the floor to extract soil for analysis. Took weeks to test and only then could a remediation plan be put in place.

    Where does the responsibility and associated expense lie? Personally I think this is something for the vendor to do - to get this checked and get the necessary reports / actions completed to ensure the house is fit for purpose to sell. It's far too risky to take a chance on this.

    The other aspect to consider is health, again this was mentioned to my parents that really they should have acted sooner as the fumes are not good for you. So you do need to consider that side of the issue too.

    Big question is how is the smell in the sitting room when not outside at the boiler? Do you know the route of the pipe from the tank to the burner? Does it go under the house?


  • Registered Users Posts: 271 ✭✭ Turkish1


    ec_pc wrote: »
    Yeah, I can understand it's a tough position to be in. However you really need to fully understand the extent of the issue - is it a serious problem or not and only the relevant experts can tell that. In my parents case they could not tell until they removed plaster, removed 1 block for testing and dug a sample hole in the floor to extract soil for analysis. Took weeks to test and only then could a remediation plan be put in place.

    Where does the responsibility and associated expense lie? Personally I think this is something for the vendor to do - to get this checked and get the necessary reports / actions completed to ensure the house is fit for purpose to sell. It's far too risky to take a chance on this.

    The other aspect to consider is health, again this was mentioned to my parents that really they should have acted sooner as the fumes are not good for you. So you do need to consider that side of the issue too.

    Big question is how is the smell in the sitting room when not outside at the boiler? Do you know the route of the pipe from the tank to the burner? Does it go under the house?

    Have arranged to go up and view the house again this afternoon. Boiler is where the highlighted section on the image is. Also spoke with the surveyor again this morning and frankly asked him if it was him would he walk away. He said should try to understand it first and not walk away immediately- could be minor but tough to tell. He mentioned a few things:

    There was no visible signs of oil spill near the boiler or anywhere else
    No smell of oil in the garage - (I have no idea what that could indicate but a little surprising given proximity to boiler)
    There was a strong smell at the boiler (not at the tank in the back garden)
    Suggested pulling up a few floor boards in toilet/hall & kitchen (closest to boiler) to see if any visible signs of oil
    Core sample to determine if contamination
    Inspection of the boiler for signs of a leak
    Inspection around boiler to see if any cracks/gaps in the concrete that the oil could have seeped through

    Was a surprise (apparently) to the vendor when a smell/potential leak was mentioned. House hasn't been lived in/heating on for 3-4months (its a rental), would there be any chance this is just due to heating having not been on and a smell lingering in from boiler to the house (really am clutching and pretty sure I know the answer)

    Will let it play out for a few days and see if vendor willing to pay for core sample.


  • Registered Users Posts: 408 ✭✭ ec_pc


    If the house is a semi-d or terrace, is it worth checking if next door noticed anything? There are all sorts of possibilities.


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 30,666 ✭✭✭✭ listermint


    Turkish1 wrote: »
    Have arranged to go up and view the house again this afternoon. Boiler is where the highlighted section on the image is. Also spoke with the surveyor again this morning and frankly asked him if it was him would he walk away. He said should try to understand it first and not walk away immediately- could be minor but tough to tell. He mentioned a few things:

    There was no visible signs of oil spill near the boiler or anywhere else
    No smell of oil in the garage - (I have no idea what that could indicate but a little surprising given proximity to boiler)
    There was a strong smell at the boiler (not at the tank in the back garden)
    Suggested pulling up a few floor boards in toilet/hall & kitchen (closest to boiler) to see if any visible signs of oil
    Core sample to determine if contamination
    Inspection of the boiler for signs of a leak
    Inspection around boiler to see if any cracks/gaps in the concrete that the oil could have seeped through

    Was a surprise (apparently) to the vendor when a smell/potential leak was mentioned. House hasn't been lived in/heating on for 3-4months (its a rental), would there be any chance this is just due to heating having not been on and a smell lingering in from boiler to the house (really am clutching and pretty sure I know the answer)

    Will let it play out for a few days and see if vendor willing to pay for core sample.

    Very standard location for oil burners under the stairs accessed outside for 70s 80s construction. Check under the boiler itself outside should be clear signs of diesel or kerosene in the concrete beneath. See if there is traces of efforts at cleaning or keeping it in. E.g sand or white soaking material.


  • Administrators, Business & Finance Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 16,786 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭ Toots


    Turkish1 wrote: »
    Have arranged to go up and view the house again this afternoon. Boiler is where the highlighted section on the image is. Also spoke with the surveyor again this morning and frankly asked him if it was him would he walk away. He said should try to understand it first and not walk away immediately- could be minor but tough to tell. He mentioned a few things:

    There was no visible signs of oil spill near the boiler or anywhere else
    No smell of oil in the garage - (I have no idea what that could indicate but a little surprising given proximity to boiler)
    There was a strong smell at the boiler (not at the tank in the back garden)
    Suggested pulling up a few floor boards in toilet/hall & kitchen (closest to boiler) to see if any visible signs of oil
    Core sample to determine if contamination
    Inspection of the boiler for signs of a leak
    Inspection around boiler to see if any cracks/gaps in the concrete that the oil could have seeped through

    Was a surprise (apparently) to the vendor when a smell/potential leak was mentioned. House hasn't been lived in/heating on for 3-4months (its a rental), would there be any chance this is just due to heating having not been on and a smell lingering in from boiler to the house (really am clutching and pretty sure I know the answer)

    Will let it play out for a few days and see if vendor willing to pay for core sample.

    If it's a rental the previous tenant may have been aware of the smell but not said anything when leaving for fear of not getting their deposit back. Or possibly the leak only started when they left and has just been quietly seeping away while the property has been unoccupied.

    A friend of my parents had an oil leak years ago and it was one of the things that prompted my parents to switch from oil to gas - the remediation work was massive. Personally I'd be walking away, but I understand how hard that is, especially seeing as how you're sale agreed on your place.


  • Registered Users Posts: 271 ✭✭ Turkish1


    Toots wrote: »
    If it's a rental the previous tenant may have been aware of the smell but not said anything when leaving for fear of not getting their deposit back. Or possibly the leak only started when they left and has just been quietly seeping away while the property has been unoccupied.

    A friend of my parents had an oil leak years ago and it was one of the things that prompted my parents to switch from oil to gas - the remediation work was massive. Personally I'd be walking away, but I understand how hard that is, especially seeing as how you're sale agreed on your place.

    Quick update:
    I have been back up to the house this afternoon and the smell is strongest in the kitchen (close to the boiler) and the hall.

    Checked the tank and there is still c. 50% of oil in the tank and the house has been vacant for a few months so hopefully an indicator that a leak (if any) would be minor as would expect tank to be empty otherwise. No obvious signs of leaks around the boiler or tank.

    Have agreed with EA that, at the vendors costs and with me present
    (i) Boiler needs to be assessed
    (ii) A couple of floorboards in kitchen, hall and sitting room need to be lifted and get someone in with camera to see if any oil sitting on top of the subfloor or any other indicators of problem.

    One piece not yet agreed as haven't mentioned to EA yet. I have spoken to plumber I know who is going to put me in touch with someone about doing a more detailed assessment (taking samples etc..). I'll likely foot bill for this but will try push this cost onto the vendor.

    Any indications of anything other than an extremely small leak and I will be heading for the door which is where I think this will end up. Given already sunk costs of legal fees, survey, valuation etc.. I don't mind spending a little more time and money to get clarity even if I have to walk.


  • Registered Users Posts: 30,666 ✭✭✭✭ listermint


    It could also be unburnt fuel from the exhaust of the boiler getting into the kitchen via the boiler flue chimney stack. And or if there is a kitchen vent close to it. May not be spillage at all. Just crap boiler mixed with an old chimney stack.


  • Registered Users Posts: 271 ✭✭ Turkish1


    Just a general update (in case anyone wondering). Had specialist out today and didn't initial site assessment - could detect oil (or whatever chemical fumes they give off) in the house today.

    Apparently a reading of 7 or higher is considered unliveable and readings ranged from 2-5 depending on the room etc..

    Haven't officially walked away yet but as good as. Don't know how but your man guessed but he put it somewhere between ~30-80 litres.

    As an aside - does the seller have a legal obligation to inform potential purchasers now that he is aware of it? I am very cynical and suspect he may not be insured as house was vacant for about 3 months - could he pull a fast one and sting some other potential purchaser?


  • Registered Users Posts: 13 gunggung69


    Seen similar mysel. In the precontract enquiries during the conveyance there is generally a question about any environmental issues that may affect the property. The vendor couldn’t lie here. He could however say the purchaser is to make own enquiries.

    Def needs an expert on it. There are only a few in the country properly qualified. Avada Environmental, Verde Environmental are a couple. Watch out for cowboys though who lack appropriate qualifications. EPA requires that the expert is Chartered (Engineer/Environmentaolist or Scientist). There are many in the market who say they can clean up oil but I personally wouldn’t trust them with my house.



  • Registered Users Posts: 15,358 ✭✭✭✭ Discodog


    One problem is there are few environmental clean up companies so they can charge a fortune. A friend of mine ended up with a 25000 bill from a neighbour's leak which the insurance covered. It would seriously put me off oil heating.



  • Registered Users Posts: 271 ✭✭ Turkish1



    Seeing as a few posts on this, I did walk away in the end and have thankfully closed on another house (which I preferred anyway). The damage was extensive enough that the house was taken down off the market and has not been back up since. The assessors etc.. were coming out to look at the house and I assume there would be quite a bit of back and forth. If I was to guess, they will be lucky to have the house back up by the end of the year, although it will possibly be in better overall condition and might make them a few more bob when they do sell.

    First thing I did in new house was change to Gas - the Oil made me nervous 😀



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭ JimmyVik


    We had an oil leak about 10 years ago.

    Tank was cracked and had been leaking for some time before it was spotted.

    Insurance assessor came out and said they would cover it, but the more it cost them the more it would cost us because we would be locked in with them for 5 years.

    So we got testers out and they tested it and then gave us companies to do the cleanup.

    Quotes from companies were from €20k to €35k.

    We got in our own guy with a digger. He took the soil out. Got testers to test it again and it was clear and then filled it in with new soil afterwards.

    Total cost €2000 plus a new oil tank.

    Still ended paying about €200 extra on insurance for 5 years, but it could have been more.



  • Registered Users Posts: 30,666 ✭✭✭✭ listermint


    Genuinely believe when insurers are involved the professionals take them to the absolute cleaners. Rather than dealing with the issue they fixes spread all over the place



  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 15,358 ✭✭✭✭ Discodog


    I enquired about this. I was told that you can only use a recognised environmental company. I spoke to someone else who's neighbour had a leak that contaminated their soil. The bill for there side was €6000. I could of dug out the soil, by hand, in half an hour. The testing alone was over €1000.



  • Registered Users Posts: 1,085 ✭✭✭ meijin


    and what did you or your guy do with the contaminated soil?



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭ JimmyVik


    Put it in a place where contaminated soil goes of course.



  • Registered Users Posts: 271 ✭✭ Turkish1


    So the house with the oil leak has been put back up for sale and current bidding above my sale agreed price.

    I can see that no remedial work has happened in the meantime from (i) the pics (ii) being around the area and (iii) unlikely it would have gone through all the insurance rigmarole and works in the time frame.


    Does the estate agent have a legal obligation to disclose the fact that there is an oil leak?



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,608 ✭✭✭ Claw Hammer




  • Registered Users Posts: 2,386 ✭✭✭ chops018



    Not necessarily. Caveat emptor applies. So, buyer beware. As a previous poster mentioned these questions will come up in pre-contract enquiries and Replies to Requisitions on Title. However, the seller can just reply that it is up to the potential purchaser to make their own enquiries in this regard and it's up to them to fully check out the property and see what issues are there and make a decision on whether or not they wish to proceed. Very much a sold as seen scenario.



  • Registered Users Posts: 3,496 ✭✭✭ spaceHopper


    For kicks and giggles get a friend to do secret shopper and book a viewing and see what they say.



  • Registered Users Posts: 5,368 ✭✭✭ JimmyVik


    OP you should see if you can get some quotes to remedy the situation. It might not be as expensive to put right as you think.

    Worth checking out.

    Ive bought a fair few properties over the years and sold them after doing them up.

    One thing it has taught me is that a bad survey report is a godsend sometimes. It scares away most of the other bidders that you are bidding against.

    And usually they turn out to be not as big a job as people think.

    One property was an old bungalow.

    We had bid €225k and other bidders came in above that. We were interested in another property at the same time so said that was going to stay our highest bid. We missed out on the other house and in the meantime bid had been accepted on the first one from someone else. Couple of months later the EA came back and said the surveyor pointed out a leak that had rotted the wall and the buyer bailed out, after going sale agreed at €255k.

    EA was honest and said when they mentioned it to the other bidders they bailed too.

    You could see where there was a leak leaky pipe that they had only discovered recently, but must have been there for ages as the plasterboard was all damp and the wood behind that was rotted too.

    When I got in and had a look it was just a dripping joint on a pipe. I tightened it up while I was there. Leak stopped.

    Bid €205k and it was accepted straight away.

    While we were doing up some other things, ripped out that wall altogether anyway as it was ruining a nice hallway in the house and looked way better with it gone.

    That part of the job probably cost €100 tbh.

    That house was sold 6 months later, with about €20k worth of work done to it for €320k.

    The BER, that was easily increased, and the leak (also easily fixed) frightened off other buyers.

    I was at one viewing once and a woman said to her husband, ive seen enough. The purple walls in the bedroom would make me sick. We arent buying this house. And off they went :)



  • Registered Users Posts: 271 ✭✭ Turkish1


    Makes sense I suppose as the obligation should be on the buyer to be happy but it just feels wrong.

    It could be a €20k job or a €120k job. I will try give a call and say I am still in the market and interested, can he confirm the leak was remediated.

    I must caveat this by saying the Estate Agent acted with the utmost integrity when I was sale agreed, never tried down play it, agreed with getting out expert etc (even when an independent plumber said it wasn't a smell of oil).



  • Advertisement
Advertisement