Fuel Contamination: What’s The Risk?

Using fuel, whether it be in a vehicle or in a tank to heat your home or a commercial building, comes with responsibility. Fuel, when kept safely in a tank or other storage unit, is perfectly fine and safe to be around, as long as you follow the rules. But even following a stringent checklist of rules, you can still have a fuel contamination problem on your hands. If you have stored gas, then you need to ask yourself What’s the Risk?
Fuel contamination is when some kind of substance gets into the liquid, which can ruin it, as well as the container that it is being stored in. There are several different forms of contaminants, one of the most common is the same thing that keeps humans alive–water.

Water can get into the container a variety of ways. Condensation is an easy one. This is moisture that forms on the vessel due to cold weather outside. Just like condensation on a drinking glass that has ice in it, the same principle applies. If that condensation gets into the container, then it can ruin the entire vessel. There are stages of water contamination, and it is best to catch it as early as possible. In the early stages, it is just small amounts of liquid, but if left unfiltered, the water will eventually emulsify, which is really dangerous.

A direct consequence of water in the tank is the growth of bacteria. It starts with a few simple cells that are no more than 10 microns in size, which can’t be seen with the naked eye. But these are prolific multipliers, so they tend to double every 10 to 20 minutes, which means you have very little time to get this problem under control.

Fungus is also a problem, and we are not talking mushrooms. These are microbes such as yeasts and molds that attach themselves to the side of the tank where they are harder to spot. They then proceed to multiply, contaminating the gas and clogging up filters.

Sometimes, there are no contaminants at all, but the fuels can still go bad through age. These substances are somewhat volatile when fresh, but can degrade over time, losing their efficacy. So even though there are no foreign materials in the liquid, they may still not work well if they are too old.

The most immediate risk is that the fuel will get into filters, engines, and boilers and clog them up. For example, if the bad fuel is for your heating system, it can cause clogs that make your system run less efficiently, meaning you need more gas to warm the house less. It can also get into the electrical works and cause permanent damage, meaning that the entire system could need replacing if you don’t catch the problem. This can be very costly and leave you without heat over the winter, the worst time for it to happen.

Contamination can actually be filtered out if caught early, and the new, clean oil can then be used as normal. Ask a professional service about filtering and cleaning oil, then schedule regular maintenance checks to make sure it does not happen again.

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