446 North Main Street • Barnegat, NJ 08005
Phone: 848.240.0036

Fuel Tank Cleaning

If you have a motorboat or other marine vessel with an on-board fuel tank, chances are close to certain that it has sludge buildup. Over time, that buildup will turn to corrosion, and that corrosion will lead to tank failure.

And fixing that becomes a costly proposition.

But it doesn’t need to be that way. You need your marine fuel tank cleaned! Thankfully, you’re in the right place. SP Marine Services is a fully insured provider of marine fuel tank cleaning and fuel polishing services. Our mobile unit can access and service just about any diesel fuel storage tank. Our proven methods will ensure fuel reliability in all diesel applications.

Years of experience, combined with the latest technology and the most efficient chemicals, allow us to address any issue related to diesel fuel tank contamination.

Contact us here or read on to learn more.

Our Process (in brief):

  • Sample and test fuel tanks for leaks, corrosion
  • In-depth analysis of fuel
  • Dispose of bad or unstable fuel
  • Cleaning and removal of all diesel fuel contaminants, sludge buildup, etc. from fuel tank
  • Clean and polish diesel fuel
  • Get you back in the water with a clean tank and fuel!

Benefits of Fuel Tank Cleaning:

  • Removes water, contaminants, and sediments that naturally accumulate in diesel fuel tanks
  • Helps prevent corrosion, and ultimately failure, of your expensive marine fuel tank
  • Restores fuel to its optimal clear state
  • Recondition, stabilize and decontaminate bio-diesel and diesel fuel
  • Provides optimal fuel quality resulting in peak engine performance and reliability.

Ready to get started? Click here to begin or read on to learn more.

Common Questions about Marine Fuel Tank Cleaning (FAQs)

Do you really need your fuel tanks cleaned?

The answer is an unequivocal YES. Modern diesel fuel wreaks havoc with marine fuel tanks, causing sludge buildup that can lead to corrosion, and eventually, tank failure.

What fuel additive should I be using to prevent this?

Most additives can help slow sludge buildup, but don’t trust a bottle of some additive to clean everything. Fuel additives are preventive measures that help slow sludge build up, but they cannot eliminate or STOP it. Having your tanks cleaned (and not just your fuel polished) is important now more than ever.

What if I don’t have a problem with buildup or corrosion in my fuel tank?

Chances are almost certain that you do, you just don’t realize it – yet. The sludge we’re seeing inside fuel tanks these days is worse than ever and is highly corrosive. If you wait until you can actually see the problem before you address it, you’re going to be facing a much more expensive solution than if you had taken measures earlier to prevent it.

But what if I have dual fuel filters?

Dual fuel filters are great, but guess what? You still have sludge in your tank. This isn’t an issue with you, your boat, or how you operate it. It’s an issue with today’s diesel fuel.

Do you mean that I’m getting bad fuel or that my fuel has been sitting around for far too long?

Believe it or not, that’s not the issue. The fuel you’re getting isn’t “bad,” per se, it’s just being refined in a different way than it used to be. That’s why you’re getting sludge buildup and corrosion in your marine fuel tank.

So, if I have dual filters, carry extra filters with me, and use additives, how am I still getting sludge in my marine fuel tank? What’s wrong with today’s marine diesel fuel?

The root of the issue is with the way diesel fuel is being refined. Refineries are using more byproducts than ever during the refining process. This is to help them reduce the cost of the process, but there is a downside to these savings. These days the shelf life of diesel is only about 90 days before it starts breaking down. That’s a big problem for your tank.

Further, no matter how diligent you are in monitoring your fuel, water in the fuel is inevitable. This is for two reasons. First, diesel fuel is allowed a certain “acceptable” water content when it leaves the refinery. There is always some water content to it. Second, summer heat leads to condensation buildup inside the tank, buildup that can quickly lead to excessive water content, which then leads to the growth of bacteria and other contaminants. Filters and additives cannot prevent this. They can slow it, but not prevent it.

So fresh fuel can make sure this isn’t a big problem, right?

Sorry, but it can’t. Condensation and contaminant buildup is inevitable, even with fresh fuel. Not only is water corrosive, bacteria buildup will produce hydrogen sulfide, which can quickly eat through marine fuel tanks – yes, even steel fuel tanks. From there you’ll get poor performance, leaks, engine shutdowns, and even total tank failure.

But I use my boat regularly and it always has fresh fuel, so this problem shouldn’t impact me, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. For example, we serviced the Crocodile, an ’87 Coast Guard vessel out of Cape May, NJ. The vessel runs daily and uses fresh fuel continuously. If any marine vessel has a constant supply of fresh, clean fuel, it’s the Crocodile. Despite this, they still had corrosion in their steel integral tanks. As we’ve said, with modern diesel fuel, this issue is inevitable.

So I’ll just add biocide to my boat fuel tank.

Like other additives, biocide can help kill bacteria or algae buildup, but we’re sorry to say that’s not the end of the story. Doing this can leave behind a mat of dead material, which once again can cause tank corrosion (not to mention clogged fuel lines and other problems). You need to have this cleaned out!

Are there early warning signs I can look for?

Yes, some. None that are foolproof – as we mentioned earlier, it’s almost certain you have buildup in your tank even if you’re not seeing any signs – but there are a few things you can look for that will help you indentify an advanced problem. Signs include:

  • Sludgy fuel filters
  • Frequent filter changes
  • Can’t hit your engine’s full rated RPM
  • Dark exhaust smoke
  • Soot on the transom
  • Water in fuel-water separators
  • Engine stoppage
  • Hard deposits on diesel injectors
  • Fuel in the bilge (a possible sign of leakage)

What do I do if I think my tank is leaking?

First, don’t wait to get it looked at! A leaking fuel tank can lead to disastrous problems. You’ll want to have it pressure-tested by a professional. This test will ensure your tank can continuously maintain pressure. Depending on the results, a tank survey will be next to identify corrosion, both externally and, more importantly, internally. This is important, because problems inside are an “invisible” corrosion that often doesn’t get noticed until it’s too late.

And then from there? Hopefully we’ll find no corrosion and you’ll just need a cleaning. Otherwise, you may have a fuel tank repair or replacement in front of you.

Okay, so how do you clean fuel tanks?

First we remove the fuel via a fuel polishing system, transferring it into a holding tank on our truck. Once the fuel is removed, we install clean-out ports on the tank (if it doesn’t have them already). This allows us to access the inside of the tank. A thorough cleaning out of any sludge and buildup follows. Once the inside of the tank has been cleaned (and before & after pictures have been taken), we then transfer the fuel back into your tanks through our polishing system.

So does it actually work?

Yes! We guarantee you if you have the process done, you’ll go through fewer filters, have fewer mechanical failures, and have a lesser chance of tank failure.

Okay, I’m convinced. How often should I have this done?

This process should be repeated every 2-3 years.

Ready to take the next step and ensure your fuel tanks are in the best shape they can be, thereby protecting your investment in your boat and its engines? Contact us and we’ll get you on the schedule.

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