“Do I need fuel tank cleaning?” The answer is ‘yes’ more and more often
When we’re asked by a casual enquirer whether they’re likely to need fuel tank cleaning for their stored diesel we usually highlight three factors that advance fuel contamination.
The alert signals for fuel tank cleaning
- Old fuel: if diesel is stored for more than six months, tank cleaning is recommended. If it’s stored for more than twelve months it becomes essential. Modern biodiesel blends degrade over time; the longer they’re stored, the more contaminated they become.
- Harsh conditions: outdoor tanks suffer worse contamination than indoor tanks because they suffer greater temperature changes and are more vulnerable to water pollution. Changes in temperature encourage a tank to inhale air from the atmosphere. If the air is unfiltered, this can draw water vapour and particulates into the tank.
- Old tanks and pipework: materials degrade over time. However clean and strong a tank is when it’s new, as it ages rust forms and drops into the diesel it contains. Pipework suffers the same problem. Unless you use plastic piping such as Durapipe’s PLX, your pipes could transport more than fuel!
We usually recommend fuel testing at any storage site with these three conditions.
Which is why we were really surprised when we tested the fuel at a local transport company. This will be subject to a case study that’s going through our approval process but the results are surprising enough to warrant immediate comment.
This site had:
- a relatively new tank (6 years old)
- that was stored indoors
- that was almost emptied every week
This was not the sort of site we would normally expect to need tank cleaning. Yet the results showed very clear contamination: it failed four of the six standard tests and was at caution level on the fifth.
The lesson is clear: every tank is at risk of fuel contamination. If you don’t want to leap straight to the stage of tank cleaning, regular fuel testing is essential.
Our short video explains why fuel becomes contaminated and what can happen if the issue is ignored: