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post #1 of 6 Old 06-22-2015 Thread Starter
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Cleaning fuel and water tanks. How often

I haven't cleaned our fuel tanks in quite a while. I have no problems (knock, knock) but I am curious, how often do you remove all the fuel and clean your tanks?

Also, how often do you clean water tanks. I filter what I drink, and have run bleach through, but never actually emptied and cleaned them.

This should probably be a poll.

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Re: Cleaning fuel and water tanks. How often

When you ran the bleach through the tank it cleaned it. Chlorine bleach kills all living cells - ALL! There is nothing that can survive a heavy dose of Chlorox. I dump a cup full in my tank every time I fill it, which is a bit of overkill, but the only thing I use the water for is taking showers and washing dishes. I look at the bottom of the tank every time I fill it and it has always been spotless.

As for the fuel, I use gasoline so I never have the problems diesel guys have.

All the best,

Gary
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Re: Cleaning fuel and water tanks. How often

If one always uses clean dock water then maybe not much cleaning is needed. I collect rainwater. It's chlorine free. The algae loves it. So quite a lot of dead algae collects in the bottom of the tanks. I suck it out at least once a year. It's harmless, just annoying.

The diesel tank gets its sump pumped out one a year also. The hard material that forms on the tank surfaces seems to be firmly attached so I do not worry about it. But I do reach in to sweep, with a paint brush, the crud to the sump. Awful job. There's usually a few spoonfuls of water and about a quarter cup of hard amber sediment and algae-like slime (polymerized hydrocarbons they say). Never bother with "polishing" because the fuel above the crud in the sump is pristine. Sometimes the fuel is a bit cloudy, especially if it's been in there a while. But that is just moisture as is readily proven by heating a small sample on the stove and observing the water boil out leaving clear oil.

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Re: Cleaning fuel and water tanks. How often

Here's an easy definitive way to 'test' your water tank if it needs cleaning: Reach in and FEEL the bottom portion of your tank walls with your fingers. If it feels slimy to the touch when you rub your fingers on the surface, that's a massive bacterial colony.
If so, there are several ways to remove it:
1. sequential/repeated shock sanitizations (4-8 oz. of clorox per 10 gal of tank capacity, let soak 1-2 hours, then flush) until no slime is felt.
2. If failure to remove (as in #1), then mechanical hand scrubbing with detergent and brush, flush/drain/rinse, followed by single shock sanitization.
If tank is aluminum, Lessen contact time for shock sanitization, NO repeated treatments - so get out your long handled scrub brush .

BTW - chlorine does NOT kill most protozoa (oocysts such as cryptosporidium or giardia); nor, and many uncommon pathogenic bacteria. Until about 2010, oocysts were a massive problem in many local US municipal water systems, especially those that drew their water from lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and other 'surface' water.
Maintenance doses of chlorine in excess of recommended water dosages is considered a possible carcinogen - 1 to 2 ppm or about .4 to .8 oz of Clorox, etc. per 10 gallons of tank capacity. The correct dose is that you can 'just barely' smell chlorine in the spigot water.

Diesel tank.
1. Open tank and look in to see if accumulated debris at the bottom or 'black stuff' sticking to the side walls/bottom in your estimation would fill one Campbell's soup can. If so, clean/scrub the tank. Reason: The typical Racor only has the dirt capacity of about 35 to 50 grams of tank 'sludge' .... about the content capacity of one Campbells soup can.
Debris that adheres to the walls of diesel tank are usually fungal colonies and their products of metabolism - 'resins'. Eventually when the 'residents' of the fungal colony ultimately die and then decompose, the 'stuff' will break loose.
1a. Ive seen remarkable results with (Startron, etc.) "Enzymatic Tank Cleaner" .... but I use it only for 'mild' tank contamination, not massive contamination.

• How to tell WHEN to open the tank for inspection of the internals (other than seasonal maintenance): 'Dark' fuel oil, or the fuel oil has a haze. Method: decant some fuel into a clean glass container and hold it up between your eyeballs and bright white light or sunlight ... any 'cloudiness' is a HAZE which indicates particles greater than ~10ÁM. If you can SEE haze when you 'backlight' with strong white light, you have a massive amount of particles at greater than 10ÁM.
FWIW - when traveling, I usually always do the 'glass/eyeball' test before any fuel enters the tank .... saves a lot of grief, especially in the islands, etc. that get their fuel deliveries from 'barges'. If hazy, I simply close up and look for CLEAN fuel.

Last edited by RichH; 06-23-2015 at 02:10 AM.
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Re: Cleaning fuel and water tanks. How often

Rich, the shock levels of chlorine WILL KILL cryptosporidium, but at those levels the water would be lethal for human consumption. The levels used to treat municipal water supplies are miniscule in comparison, averaging about 1 to 1.5 ppm, which is safe for human consumption. There is a lot of literature available on this subject.

Gary
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Re: Cleaning fuel and water tanks. How often

Chlorine only 'stuns' (less than 100% kill) crypto & giardia and a lot of 'less common' oocysts, at the normal shock sanitization levels at 10-20 ppm.

Sure is a lot of literature on it ... since the 1993 Milwaukee crypto epidemic which greatly sickened nearly 1/2 million persons and is linked to the deaths of nearly 100 .... 'just' in Milwaukee; yet, the infection has been found (between 1993 and 2009) in many many municipals who use surface water.
I was very deeply involved with crypto and a few giardia episodes ... removal, etc. and prevention in such systems. The only thing used in municipal potable systems that can 'kill' either - is ozone .... but sadly is chemically incompatible with 99.9% of USA systems so it cannot be long term injected into the delivery/distribution system, only injected into the 'raw' water before pretreatment! Because of the immunity to chlorine by both species, all US potable water systems using surface water sources since 2009 are mandated to be 'filtered' via certified ... either RO/UF/NF/ or micro-filtration.

But the thread is about WHEN to clean a tank ... and ignores what to do about all those hose barb dead legs on 'boats'.

;-)

Last edited by RichH; 06-23-2015 at 02:08 AM.
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