No one likes to be nagged about boat maintenance, especially after the season just started, but here’s a gentle reminder: A gas-powered boat’s fuel-water separating filter should be replaced roughly twice a season, to be on the safe side. It’s a pretty simple procedure, as long as you buy a replacement filter of the right type and size (don’t be tempted to re-use the old filter). A filter wrench of the proper diameter also helps.
Given today’s ethanol-blend fuels, most engine manufacturers recommend a separating filter of at least 10 microns, to prevent tiny particulate matter and water molecules from reaching the engine.
When removing the old filter, place a container below the filter to catch any spilled gas. And of course, use caution throughout the procedure, as gasoline is highly flammable.
If you have a basic canister-style filter, it’s a good idea to check for water in the fuel by pouring the contents of the old filter into a glass jar. If water collects below the gas, there’s good news and bad. The good news is that the filter is doing its job. The bad news is that you’ll likely need to remove all of the contaminated gas from your fuel tank. This is best handled by a marine service center.
When it’s time to install the new filter, remember to write the date of installation and/or the current engine hours on the filter housing, so you’ll know how old it is (believe it or not, there are some folks who actually do this). To ensure a tight seal between the canister and the head, apply a light coating of engine oil to the rubber gasket on the top of the canister.
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