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Sometimes Rain Isn't a Good Thing

With rainy season upon us and an active hurricane season on the horizon, it is time to focus preparations for preventing water contamination in fuel.

Anyone who stores fuel, aboveground or underground, knows that water can be a huge problem. There are a great number of risks associated with water contaminated fuel, but how do you know whether your fuel is bad or not?

Some warning signs to look for are:

- Discolored Fuel

- Premature Filter Changes - Probe Failure - Corroded or Clogged Filters - STP Failures - Visual Evidence of Corrosion - Engines Not Starting - Line & Tank Leaks - Poor Fuel Mileage - Reduced Engine Power

Water-contaminated fuel has been shown to cause failure in tank and fuel lines and also facilitates the growth of bacteria and fungi in your fuel. In addition to visible contaminants, stored fuel can also contain increased levels of inorganic compounds, such as metals and salts. These compounds cannot be burned by the engine and can quickly lead to engine fouling, piston scuffing, cylinder liner wear and stuck rings. The most important potential risks involved with having contaminated fuel is an overall increase in cost, increased maintenance, decreased efficiency of the vehicles and/or equipment, and more frequent repairs due to corrosion

The following tips are recommended to prevent and detect water intrusion:

  1. Stick tanks with water detection paste weekly and immediately after deliveries and excessive rain events.  

  2. Check the spill buckets after excessive rain and remove any accumulation of water and/or fuel as soon as possible. 

  3. Ensure fill caps are in good condition (i.e. not rusted, cracked and have gaskets to form a water-tight seal).

  4. Perform hydrostatic tests on spill buckets at least quarterly. Fill the spill bucket with water and carefully measure the water level each 30 minutes for 3 hours. If there is a leak in the bucket itself or in the fill cap, the water level will decrease indicating an issue.

  5. Have regular inspections performed to ensure that all entry points into the UST are water tight including probes, submersible pumps, and riser pipes.

With the high amount of rain associated with hurricane season, it is important to avoid water contamination in all types of fuel - particularly ethanol blends and diesel. Condensation and incidental water intrusion are common in underground storage tanks and could create a chemical reaction including microbial growth and chemical separation, both of which have serious consequences to end users.

Not maintaining your fuel quality can result in the risk of operational downtime and a damaged reputation among customers. The good news is that it is possible to manage and maintain your fuel. It's simple - Being proactive rather than reactive will save money and potential liability.


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