The Fuel Tank Maintenance Checklist: Catching Problems Before They Arise!

Thu, Sep 5, 2019

Fuel tank maintenance is critical for ensuring your site is safe, limiting the likelihood of an oil spill and preventing the costly downtime and inconvenience of not being able to use it if something unexpectedly fails.

Let’s say you’re a haulage company. Your drivers are waiting to refuel before they set out on their deliveries, but the pump has suddenly stopped working. To prevent business grinding to a halt, you pay the inflated retail price to fill the fleet at the local forecourt. Not only is this more expensive than your bulk-bought on-site diesel, the drivers are now behind schedule. On top of this, you need an emergency call out engineer to fix the pump that you’ll be paying a premium for!

At some point, we’ve all been guilty of this. How many of us have noticed a funny noise coming from our car but have put off taking it to the garage until we’ve broken down?! This simple example of corrective maintenance shows the importance of not waiting for something to go wrong before carrying out maintenance on your fuel tank. What are currently small issues can be caught before they become real problems – the key is preventive maintenance!

Tank Maintenance

Stop being a corrective maintenance culprit!

If you have a fuel tank on site and you don’t already have a maintenance programme in place, well, quite frankly, you should! Start with making someone responsible for periodically inspecting the tank for any issues that may need maintenance. Most fuel tank installers offer tank servicing and will carry out any required work then and there. However, it’s good practice to be able to inspect your tank yourself more regularly to catch any problems that arise between services.

Below we guide you through what to look out for, explaining why failing to notice these things and acting on them may cause you problems in the future. And for your on-site ease, we’ve put together an easy to use Fuel Tank Maintenance Checklist that is free to download, print and tick off as you go!

Tank Inspection:

  • Is there any evidence on the ground surrounding the tank of a leak? Even if this is a slight damp spot, failing to act on it may result in a more serious leak in the future.
  • Can you see any corrosion, rust, cracks, warping, or any other changes to the tank body, bund, welded joints or the connecting pipework? Any loss of strength or integrity of the tank can result in containment failure and the loss of thousands of litres of fuel.
  • Is the tank base and any supporting structures in a good, safe condition?
Rusty Tank Base
  • Is there any problematic water content present in the fuel tank? Symptoms can include cloudy looking fuel, nasty looking sludge and an unpleasant smell. If water is suspected, you should arrange for a fuel tank cleaning specialist to come out before it blocks filters, damages pumps and causes costly downtime.
  • Are all vents and fill points protected to prevent water and debris from entering the tank and contaminating the fuel?
  • Does the bund/secondary containment need emptying of any build-up of rainwater, leaves, fuel or any other waste? If a bund is full, then in the event of an inner tank leak it will not be able to hold the tank contents and cause it to spill out.
Rainwater in Tank Bund
  • If there is a drip tray in the fuel fill cabinet, does this need emptying of excess fuel that could overspill or cause a hazard?
  • Is the tank labelling, as well as any operating instructions still present and legible? Labels are there to prevent wrong fuel being delivered and equipment from being used wrongly and causing damage e.g. Turn off pump when finished to prevent dry running.
  • Is the tank secured from unauthorised access and the locks maintained? Without such security measures, the tank is left open to tampering and theft – both of which you want to avoid!

Equipment Checks:

Leaking Hose
  • Does the fuel pump turn on as it should and operate free of any unusual noises or problems? A noisy pump may be something as simple as damaged vanes or blocked filters, which are cheap wearing parts to replace.
  • Are the hoses free of leaks and splits and still relatively flexible? Some older hoses aren’t compatible with the increasing bio content in fuels used today and can go rigid and need to be replaced.
  • Is the meter calibrated correctly to count the amount of fuel dispensed accurately? Loss of calibration can result in more or less fuel being taken than you thought.
Blocked Fuel Filter
  • Is the tank level gauge reporting accurately and can the reading be clearly viewed at the tank? If not, then the contents of the tank may go unrecognised resulting in unexpectedly running out of fuel.
  • Have any overfill, low level and bund alarms been tested to check they sound and operate in the correct manner? Failure to work can lead to overfills, running out of fuel and a bund leak going unnoticed until someone manually checks!
  • Have all fuel filters been checked and replaced if they look almost full? A full filter will block when fuel tries to pass through, preventing any further fuel from being dispensed.
  • Do all isolation valves open and close as they should? If a valve has rusted or jammed and fails to operate, this can result in the fuel flow not being able to be shut off in an emergency, or reopened again to allow the tank to be used again.
  • Does the equipment look in good condition, clean and free from any leaks?

And now you know everything to look out for! So if you’re responsible for your site’s fuel tank, don’t let a problem that preventive maintenance could avoid happen on your watch! Download our Fuel Tank Maintenance Checklist today and get inspecting your tank and its equipment.

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