Keeping Water Out of Your Fuel System

If water happens to find its way into your fuel system, the results are not pleasant—or cheap. In worst-case scenarios, the entire fuel tank might have to been drained of the corrupted fuel and disposed of by a professional.

To eliminate such expensive headaches, here are some ways to keep water out of your fuel tank:

Water fuel separation has taken place in this jug.
  • Detail of a brittle o-ring.

    Each season, inspect the o-ring on your boat’s fill cap for signs of cracks or brittleness. Replace it if necessary.

  • Keep the vent closed on a portable tank when not in use (just remember to open it when you start your engine).
  • Test the integrity of your portable tank by closing the vent and tipping it upside down. If fuel leaks out, water can get in.
  • Detail of a sheared-off fuel vent.

    Inspect the gasket around the fuel pickup on your portable tank for signs of brittleness or damage.

  • Inspect the fuel vent on the side of your boat. These vents can sometimes get turned upwards or be sheared off, allowing water (and insects) to enter the fuel system.
  • If you don’t plan on using your boat for several weeks, keep the tank topped off to limit the amount of moisture that can condense from the trapped air. The next-best option is to store the boat with a completely empty tank.
  • Detail of a missing ring on a portable fuel tank.

    Use the engine manufacturer’s recommended fuel stabilizer and treatment products. They can really make a difference—but don’t wait to use them until after you start experiencing problems.

  • Replace your fuel-water separator filter after every 50 hours of use. Don’t reuse the filter once you’ve emptied it.
  • If you suspect water has entered the fuel tank, siphon off some fuel from the bottom of the tank and check it for water. If you detect water, take the boat to a pro to have the tank and fuel system drained.

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