prevent filter clogging
The best defense
is to keep water out of
your fuel by keeping the
tank topped off to reduce
condensation, only buying
fuel from a reliable source,
and checking your water separator routinely. If water starts
to appear regularly, you’ll have
to take steps to clean your tank and
“polish” the fuel. (There are several
ways to polish your fuel. You can have
it done professionally, or purchase an
onboard system. The principle is the
same, however: A pump pulls the fuel from
your tank, filters the microorganisms and
moisture from it, and returns it to the tank.)
you’ll need to use a cold-weather additive
and follow the instructions. Use only the
recommended dose, as too much additive
may make gel problems worse.
The refining process used to lower the sulfur
content of ULSD also can affect the content
of naturally occurring paraffin (wax) in diesel
fuel, which causes it to gel more readily in
cold weather. For the vast majority of boat
owners who lay up their boats over the win-
ter, cold-weather starting isn’t a concern. For
anyone who plans to use their diesel in win-
ter, fuel distributors compensate for colder
temperatures by selling a winter blend. If
you still have a summer blend in the engine,
A reliable source for your fuel is (and has
always been) very important. A high-volume
dealer is far more likely to have fresh fuel
than a sleepy, backwater marina. As a
general rule, diesel fuel can be expected to
remain “healthy” for at least a year.
The major oil companies or distributors
will sometimes use their own additives
(antioxidants and biocides). If the fuel has
been treated and stored in a clean (no rust),
water-free tank that is in a cool (or underground) climate, diesel fuel can last as long
as three years.
Bob Adriance is editor of Seaworthy, the
damage-avoidance newsletter produced by the
BoatU.S. Marine Insurance division. Seaworthy
is e-mailed free to Members quarterly.
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