Diesel Fuel Neglect: It Can Cost You

If you have a diesel storage tank, standby tank, or holding tank, there could be a problem lurking inside. Pump the fuel out, and your machinery could suffer from lack of performance or worse, fuel starvation due to clogged filters. It is recommended for optimal diesel fuel maintenance, it should be inspected and rotated every six months. Diesel fuel neglect can cost you.

There are newer, more environmental friendly diesel fuel formulations required by the EPA that can directly affect your machine’s operation. Contrary to popular belief, diesel fuel is not good forever and does have a shelf-life. In fact, metal alloys, water, fungus, and bacteria are the main factors that can and will shorten the life of your diesel fuel.

Water bonds with molecules in the diesel fuel, which then provides nutrients for fungus or bacteria. This sludge may compromise fuel quality, and can clog filters. In order to keep the sludge from growing, water must be eliminated from your tanks. Even a full tank will collect water in the form of condensation. This small amount of water is enough to start the life cycles of detrimental algae and bacteria.

Most people purchase a diesel generator for security and peace of mind. Equipment owners know the operational requirement basics, as well as a high-level view of maintenance schedules. However, this does not always translate into proper fuel management practices. If the power goes out, and your business requires electricity for an extended time, will your fuel and generator be up to the task?

When generators run for extended periods of time, fuel can clog filters if not properly maintained. Although you may have a supply of filters on-hand to change out, do you have time to monitor your fuel filters?

When fuel flows from the tank to the generator, it should run through a fuel/water separator before reaching the two engine-mounted filtration units. This ensures maximum protection, and allows particulates and water to be filtered out in a decreasing micron range.

Maintenance isn’t as much of a priority for facilities managers as it should be. In order to ensure that your generator keeps the lights on when the power goes out, take the following steps:

  • Inspect and test your fuel on a regular basis, beyond what’s required for normal startup preventative maintenance. Clean Fuels offers fuel-testing services in order to ensure that everything is in top shape with your generator.
  • Check the last date of maintenance on your fuel. If it’s gone several years without maintenance, your tank many need cleaning. Once the fuel and tank are cleaned, keep it cleaned. Coordinate a scheduled maintenance plan, as well as one-off tank cleaning services.
  • In addition to a regular cleaning schedule, additives can help prolong the life of your fuel. They aren’t a substitute for regular polishing, though, as the dead microbes can still sink to the bottom of the tank and form sludge.
  • When receiving new fuel, ensure that the fuel is not contaminated. Take a small sample of fuel before receiving a full shipment, and ensure that it is clear and bright. If the fuel is cloudy or full of sediment, it’s contaminated. If the fuel is cloudy, that may give you cause to reject the fuel shipment.
  • When selecting filtration components, ensure that they are bio-diesel compatible. Some fuel deliveries may contain bio-diesel blends without your knowledge, and if your filtration system is not bio-diesel compatible, you may be damaging your filters. Note: bio-diesel may have a shorter shelf life than standard diesel, which will further shorten the overall life of the fuel in your tank.

Instead of a complete changing out fuel, hiring costly after-hours repairmen, or worrying about microbes in your diesel, there’s another option. Permanent fuel polishing systems and diesel/water separators can be installed on your tank to keep fuel ready to go at all times.

Fuel tank maintenance is easily overlooked, but this neglect can come with a steep price tag. Take action, and ensure that the lights stay on when the next major outage hits your business.

Do you have questions about diesel fuel maintenance? Contact us. We’d love to help you out!