Improper Fuel Storage

Justin Christensen |

Download PDF Meeting Fuel Storage requirements is essential.

Working with fuel is very unpredictable. Market conditions, price changes, whether to buy in bulk, and safe handling are just some of the things to be aware of. But what happens when it’s sitting quietly by itself in the dark?

Due to its nature, fuel that is improperly stored and left sitting for extended periods of time can cause a number of problems:


Fungus is naturally occurring in soil.  Because its seeds are easily spread by air, all fuel contains at least some. Contamination happens when conditions are right for those seeds to grow – the presence of water, fuel (mainly automotive diesel or kerosene) and temperatures between 50°F and 104°F. They produce a thick, dark-colored slime that floats on the fuel’s surface.

Tank Corrosion

When contamination from fungal growth is present in a tank for longer periods of time, it starts to form acids. The acids then start to react with metals, causing corrosion of the tank. The slime build up and residue from degrading fuel can also clog up a tank’s filters and strainers.

Environmental Hazards

Tank corrosion, leaking pipes, or overfilling can all leave product exposed to the environment. Pollution of water, vegetation, and the presence of harmful chemicals are hazards to both humans and wildlife. Damage caused and cleanup required can be very costly.

Engine Failure

Contaminated fuel can also cause engine problems. The acids formed from fungal growth eat away at engine parts and the slime and tar-like substances cause blockages in filters and lines. The engine then performs less efficiently and if there’s enough damage, may even shutdown.

Further adding to these issues, the composition of fuel has changed. In recent years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered product reformulation in an effort to reduce emissions.  Gasoline now contains oxygen and alcohol additives and diesel has a much lower level of sulfur and natural lubricants.

In order to meet requirements, refiners had to utilize different crude oil and change their processes. As a result, fuels are less stable and degrade more quickly than in the past – conditions making proper storage even more important. 

Tips for Proper Fuel Storage:

  1. Choose the right tank for your needs. Rural operations, urban centers, retail outlets and industrial environments all have different requirements and regulations.
  2. Routinely check the tank condition and make any needed repairs. Empty and clean the tank at least once every 10 years.
  3. Keep the tank full to minimize condensation and corrosion; drain water and change filters regularly.
  4. Test fuel samples regularly for contaminants; use fuel within its storage life or consider additives to stabilize and keep it fresh.
  5. Install automatic alarms and shut-off devices in your tank to prevent overfilling and spills.
  6. Avoid using copper anywhere on your tank.  Even the smallest amounts of copper residue can contaminate the fuel or speed up its deterioration process.

Power Service® is one example of a product line that would address some of these issues.  They are a leading manufacturer of superior technology diesel fuel additives that would be a beneficial part of a maintenance program. Specific products to consider are:

—CLEAR-DIESEL® Fuel & Tank Cleaner – disperses contaminants, removes water, keeps fuel fresh, prevents clogged filters and ice build up in winter, and protects against tank corrosion.

DIESEL KLEEN® + Cetane Boost – stabilizes stored fuel, prevents breakdown of diesel fuel and sludge forming, cleans dirty injectors, allows engines to run more smoothly with increased power, and improves fuel economy.

Partnering with a good fuel distributor will help avoid the risks of improper fuel storage. With decades of experience in the industry, they are experts on fuel and specialists in the areas of storage solutions, product handling and analysis programs, using the latest equipment and technologies.  They’ve worked with you to realize a valuable fuel purchase. So, it makes sense that helping you look after that product is the next step in their commitment to customer care.