June 15, 2020

Above Ground Fuel Tanks – Maintenance, Water, and Contaminants


Above Ground Fuel Tanks – Maintenance, Water, and Contaminants

Above Ground Fuel Tanks are a convenient time saving solution to keeping fuel at your facility or on your jobsite. There are maintenance issues that need to be considered when you own a tank. Sooner or later you’re going to have to deal with water, rust, dirt, bacteria and algae. It all starts with water and it doesn’t belong in your fuel!

  • Condensation is very common
  • Damaged Fuel Caps or Vents
  • Plugs that don’t fit well or are PVC, not metal
  • Low grade fuel from your fuel provider


A regular inspection schedule is key to maintaining your tanks. Check out this document for specific instructions and considerations. Assign a responsible member of your team to perform an inspection on a regular basis and document the results addressing issues along the way. It starts with an outside visual inspection. You’re looking for the obvious signs of damage to your tank, or corrosion. Either left unchecked could lead to serious issues down the road. These issues could be minor headaches like contamination or even more serious issues like leaks that contaminate the soil and water. Both lead to big money issues that nobody wants to deal with.



Look for areas that water could enter your tank. This would likely be open bung holes, damaged fill caps, damaged vents, damaged plugs, damaged seals, inadequate plugs, improper vents, etc. If you see issues, fix them immediately! Now look for damage to your tank that could have come from a vehicle or something coming in contact with your tank. Look closely for signs of leaking, especially around the seams of the tank or damaged areas. You’re looking for wet, dirty oily areas either on your tank, in your containment pan, or even worse, on the ground. The plumbing to your fuel pump or pump deck is a very common source of leaking. Look at the joints closely for signs of seepage. Now inspect your fuel hose. Is it cracking or showing signs of wear? Do you have a fuel hose breakaway installed? Does your fuel nozzle have an automatic shutoff?


You should always take time to review federal, state, county and city requirements. Are you following these requirements? Take a look at your containment pan, is it adequate to contain the entire volume of the tank plus overhead? Look for damage to the containment pan as well? Is the drain plug in place? Is there excessive water or fuel in the containment pan? Diesel fuel will sit on top of the water making it look worse than it really is if your containment pan is open and exposed to the elements. Inspect your fuel spill containment box for damage or water. If there’s water in this box, do not drain it back into the tank. Dispose of it properly


Check to be sure that you have an anti-siphon valve installed and an emergency shutoff ball cock valve and that both are working properly. This is extremely important if your pump is not sitting on top of your tank. A leak that develops in your fuel pump plumbing below your fuel level will create a siphoning effect and will drain your tank. This is a huge mess and an environmental nightmare. This is especially bad if you are using a double wall tank without a containment pan. It’s always a good idea to shut off the fuel supply by closing the ball cock valve when unattended.


Now let’s determine if there’s water in your tank. Water in your above ground fuel tanks creates the ideal environment for algae and microorganisms to grow and thrive. That’s no good for fuel. The best way to determine if there’s water in your fuel is to install an automatic tank gauging system. For farm or smaller job site fuel storage tanks, you can manually test your fuel with a fuel compatible water paste on a gauge stick. You can find this past at most Farm Supply type stores.

REMEMBER, water will be sitting below the diesel at the bottom of your bulk fuel tank. If you find that there is water in your tank, you may find a black slimy sludge at the bottom of your tank that can cause clogged fuel pumps and filters. There are additives that will help with water and algae if you treat your fuel regularly. If the situation has gotten bad, the only real way to solve this problem is to drain and clean the tank. There are professional service providers that can do this job for you onsite.
Talk to your fuel delivery supplier about measures they take to insure you’re getting clean water free fuel and what ongoing testing programs they may have to help you. Working with the most qualified fuel delivery company is important.
Finally install a good water separator and fuel filter in line after your fuel pump. This will ensure that the diesel or gasoline is filtered and water free before entering your sensitive equipment. This filter should be changed during your inspection intervals. By implementing these maintenance measures to maintain your bulk fuel tank, you are ensuring the maximum efficiency and life of your bulk fuel tank for years to come. Making sure the tank is working when you need it adds up to efficiency and dollars to the bottom line.

Stop Paying Retail At The Pump– Let Us Fuel Your Above Ground Fuel Tanks

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Our mobile fuel team will provide you a custom solution based on your day to day business needs. We will partner with and help provide you the best long-term solution, whether you have a fleet of trucks, trailers or just need jobsite fuel. Our product offerings vary from Diesel (clear or dyed) Unleaded, and DEF.

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