BAD FUEL - A good way to go out of business - By Corey Agnew, Director of Fuel Quality, GFT.

This could happen to any fuel dispensing operation.

Jakul owned several local c-stores with fueling operations attached. 2017 should have been a great year for him and his family business. Instead, he was staring at the attorney’s letters on his desk.

Jakul owned several local c-stores with fueling operations attached. 2017 should have been a great year for him and his family business.  Instead, he was staring at the attorney’s letters on his desk. Each was demanding that he pay for their client’s car engine repair or replacement. Why? Fuel Contamination.

Jakul had decided that he would discontinue the FQ (Fuel Quality) management routine the previous owner had put in place to save little on his bottom line. A total of 12 vehicle owners filed suit over a 2 week period over what they described as “engine damage due to contaminated fuel”.  His insurance was not going to cover it since, for the most part, the fuel contamination was preventable. At the end of 2017, Jakul was out of business.

WARNING WILL ROBINSON! If your business stores or dispenses fuel or petroleum fuel and you don’t have a Fuel Quality Management plan in your routine operational procedures, you are putting your business operations at risk. For a variety of reasons, mostly regulatory, today’s petroleum is easily prone to contamination and therefore, can silently do damage. and iIf gone unchecked, this means downtime at your dispensers, islands will be a certainty. Nnot to mention the contaminated dirty fuel wreaking havoc on your customers fuel system and engine.


A fuel quality management plan includes:

1. Fuel analysis and assessment 2. Incorporation of chemical additives 3. Contamination Eradication (Routine) by a professional petroleum service technician, and then, so we can ALL sleep better at night, a third party laboratory analysis and reporting.

This article will provide some helpful tips for you to assess your own fuel quality and determine if a professional is needed to fix a contamination issue.

TIP #1 The initial fuel quality assessment can be done by any manager or technician. This involves sampling the tank bottom, sticking the tank with water detecting paste to measure for water, and monitoring your ATG system for indications of water. Water is your enemy, and it should be removed whenever detected, no matter the quantity.

TIP #2 The important thing to know is that the first signs of contamination will be on your tank bottom. To assess your fuel quality, you’ll need a tank bottom sampling device, known in the industry as a “bacon bomb” or a “sludge judge”. These devices are attached to string or chains and are lowered to the bottom of the tank. When they hit the bottom, a pin inside the device is displaced, and allows the fluid to fill a cavity. Upon pulling on the string to retrieve the device, the pin drops back into place and seals the fluid inside the sampler. The bacon bomb should be gently removed from the tank and emptied into a glass jar, allowing the contents to settle. Visually assess the fuel in the jar. If you see stratification of fluids, water is likely on the bottom with fuel on top. Particles, discoloration, cloudiness are all signs of contamination. Samples from the fill port will be the cleanest, the closer to the STP you are, the more likely you are to find contamination.

Aside from a visual assessment, you should measure your product and water level with a measuring stick and water detecting paste. Water detection paste will turn a bright color in the presence of water. Kolor Kut or Gasoila are reliable products. Be sure to buy the right paste for your product, diesel and gasoline sometimes come in different pastes. Smear Spread 3-6’’ of paste on the end of your stick and lower it to the tank bottom. Allow it to sit on the tank bottom for a few seconds, and pull back up. If the paste turns a bright pink or orange color, that’s a sign of water. Make note of how many inches of water are present.

Regularly check your ATG system for indications of water. Cross-reference your measurements from water detecting paste with your ATG report. Sometimes tank bottom contamination can cause errors in water detection. Again, whenever any amount of water is identified, call a professional to get it removed.

Water in petroleum is the first indication of larger contamination issue. Remember to sample your tank bottom, stick your tank with water detecting paste, and monitor your ATG for water alarms. Call a professional petroleum technician when water is detected. Perform these checks on a monthly basis.


Corey Agnew



Guardian Fueling Technologies

9452 Philips Highway, Suite 2
Jacksonville, FL 32256 

Guardian is a licensed petroleum contractor, specializing in fuel systems, as well as a licensed building contractor and licensed mechanical contractor. Guardian is a distributor for best-in-class PEI Manufacturers.

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