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Four Signs Your Fuel System is Contaminated

White diesel, red diesel, biodiesel, and kerosene. They all can suffer the ill effects of microbial contamination. The consequences of fuel contamination are varied and long reaching – from minor inconveniences like slow flow rate, to bigger issues like equipment damage and increased emissions.

While it’s true that a thorough inspection protocol and a religiously followed housekeeping schedule can prevent a lot of fuel contamination issues, even a meticulous station owner can discover that microbes and water have slipped in under the radar. What are some signs that your fuel has been compromised?

We’ve put together a list of the top four signs to watch out for.


Clear fuel is happy fuel. Get a sample from your tank – is it clear and bright? Or is it looking murky? Dull? Cloudy? These are all signs of a contamination issue. We’ve pulled samples from tanks that were practically black with contamination, microbes and sludge but that’s one extreme on the spectrum. That doesn’t happen overnight. Long before you end up with a sludgy brown fuel sample, chances are the fuel wasn’t looking it’s best beforehand. Ideally, the fuel is clear and bright. If it isn’t, trouble might be brewing.


Do your filters seem to be tapping out quicker these days? If you find yourself changing filters every time you turn around, you might be putting a band-aid on a bullet-hole. If your filters can’t keep up with the water and particulate coming through the pump, that is a very good indication that something is awry in the cozy confines of your containment. Filters are really the canary in the coal mine when it comes to fuel quality issues. When the fuel is substandard, the filters will often tell you long before an angry customer – or some aggravated rep from a state agency.


It might sound counterintuitive in most industries, but when it comes to fuel, you can tell a lot just by looking at it. Plain and simple, if it’s ugly something’s wrong. When you’ve got the tank access open and you’ve pulled a sample to check to see if that fuel is clear and bright, it’s a good idea to check the bottom of the tank – the one that isn’t at the fill. Fuel deliveries tend to sweep up the mess that microbes make and push it all down toward the pump. That low point in the tank can give you a lot of information on the trajectory of that fuel. If that end of the tank is thick with sludge and particulate, you can be pretty sure that your fuel is on its way to trouble. Microbes make a mess – they degrade the fuel AND they corrode all metal equipment and that mess will accumulate in the bottom of your tank. Take a bottom sample – it will give you a good idea of the health of your system.


Bottom line, we need fuel to run engines. If those engines aren’t running, we have a problem. If the fuel isn’t doing its job, chances are it should have called in sick – microbial contamination will seriously diminish the quality of the fuel. Before you know it, you’ve got poor engine performance. Particulate and water will both cause p

erformance issues and can cause serious engine troubles. Whether it’s your fleet you’re fueling or your customers vehicle, fuel that causes engine woes is in need of some TLC.

If you’ve got any of these red flags, it’s time for a closer look at your fuel supply. More than one? It’s definitely time to give Clean Fuels National a call! We can help you identify the culprit and put an end to contamination. Give us a call any time, any day.

We are standing by to help you maintain your reputation as a quality fuel supplier!

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