At Precision Fuel Solutions, we have our own "process":
We get quite a few inquiries about fuel tank pressure testing. While it is a very good method to find out if a tank is leaking, it is not a good way to assess the tank's condition. Also, unless a tank has been removed so all sides can be checked, a pressure test will not even tell you where the leak is. When it comes to fuel tanks or most tanks for that matter, pressure testing is really only effective at assuring a new tank has been constructed well or that a tank repair is sound.
The problem with using pressure testing to find the condition of a tank is that it will not tell you how badly corroded and pitted a tank is inside or out. An aluminum, steel, or even stainless tank may have areas of pitting that are corroded almost all the way through and still easily hold the 3-4 psi of a pressure test.
While we're on the subject of tank tests that are sometimes used to assess the condition of a tank, another one is ultrasound. Ultrasound is great for checking the thickness of materials over a larger area, like the hull of a steel or aluminum vessel, but can easily miss the type of pitting that will usually lead to a tank leak. This type of pitting is often deeper than it is wide. That means even if you can reach the area of the tank most likely to leak, the bottom, the pits will likely be missed.
How do you go about cleaning a fuel tank?
The best way to clean a fuel tank depends on many factors such as:
Because of this, there is no one size fits all method or "process" that will work for all tanks or even most tanks. Every situation is different. Diesel tank cleaning and water tank cleaning require entirely different methods. If somebody accidentally puts the wrong liquid in the wrong tank.........%@#$ !!!.........we can usually solve that problem too.
We use the method of tank cleaning that best meets the situation. If a fuel polish is sufficient to solve a problem, which is rare, then that is what we will do.
If the tank needs to be emptied, scraped, and steam cleaned, then that is what we will do.
Both pressure and ultrasound tests are very useful to diagnose certain other fuel systems/tank problems, just not the overall condition of a tank. PFS uses these tests and others when they will provide useful information about a tank or fuel system. Tests like these are very good at diagnosing leaks in fuel lines/connections or larger tank areas with thinning from internal or external corrosion.
Other helpful tools in assessing a tank/fuel system are vacuum testing and an inspection camera for things like finding restrictions and examining external corrosion.However, unless a tank is already very clean inside and very well lit, an inspection camera will tell almost nothing useful about internal corrosion.
The fact is, the only way to accurately assess the condition of a "used" tank is to empty it, clean it, and visually inspect and gauge the extent/depth of the internal corrosion as well as the external condition. To accomplish this usually involves installing access plates if the tank does not already have them.
We believe that a reliable fuel supply is not something a captain should have to worry about when we're finished.
A clean, sound tank + clean leak-free fuel lines+clean fuel and filters = Peace of Mind
There are all kinds of sites and videos about do-it-yourself tank repair. This isn't one.
As with tank cleaning, there is no single way of repairing a leaking fuel tank. A Precision Fuel Solutions fuel tank repair is your safe, clean, cost-effective solution to your problem.
Our services are generally provided from Bellingham to Portland, but under certain circumstances, anywhere in the US. We've performed repairs as far away as Baltimore, Maryland. If you need us, give us a call!
After we evaluate a particular situation and decide on a plan of action, we take the first step to provide protection for the boat and environment. Next, we clean the tank to a stage necessary to thoroughly inspect it to determine how, or if, it needs to be repaired. Most tanks can be repaired at a fraction (often a small fraction), of the cost of a replacement. In every situation, we will be honest with you and keep you updated.
The tank in these videos had a leak that needed to be repaired.
In most cases, a leak is caused by corrosion under the sludge at or very near the lowest point in the bottom of the tank. This corrosion is almost always caused by the acidic waste from microbiological growth, water, and fuel breakdown. The how and why of these are available all over the internet. The important thing is that corrosion in a dirty metal tank is a fact and, if not stopped by cleaning, biocide, proper fuel care, and possibly a preventative liner, will eventually cause a leak.
After the tank is cleaned and inspected, we determine a plan of action for a repair. In this video, you can see some of the damage to this portion of the tank that caused the leak. Once the cleaning and inspection is finished, we can prepare the tank for a repair.
The good news is that the tank can usually be repaired at a fraction of the cost of a replacement. A future problem can also be headed off by installing a liner in a tank that is badly corroded, but not yet leaking. Precision Fuel solutions uses a few proven repair compounds, each suited to a different situation. When maintained properly, one of our repaired tanks can outlast a new tank.
On a "Full-Service Tank Repair" where we are able to reach and repair all the corrosion found, per our recommendations, we normally warranty repaired tanks. Most tank repairs can be completed in a few days.
Water, oil, fuel, coolant, and miscellaneous dirt and junk will eventually accumulate in the bilge of even the most well cared for boat. The water, whether salt or fresh, also becomes very corrosive over time. If the bilge is not cleaned periodically, it won't be long before the limber holes are clogged, the bilge pump fouled, or worse yet, an oily slick pumped out and surrounding the boat and then a call from the marina manager.
A couple of gallons of diesel on top of a little water, and that will foul the entire bilge or the marina.
Whatever the cause, we can take care of it.
When we say Deodorize, we mean it.
Due to the nature of our work, we have years of experience cleaning and deodorizing fuel, oil, or even holding tank leaks.
We don't show up with a bucket and rag to clean your bilge. We have specialized pressure washers and vacuum systems that we can use to reach every area of the bilge, removing any material that may be causing an odor.
We clean to any stage the customer requests, though we prefer to do a complete bow to stern bilge clean, as we want it done correctly.
Protecting the vessel is our first priority. Sensitive electrical components, as well as carpet and decor, are shielded to assure no damage. We are very good at tailoring a cleaning method that is as effective, clean and safe as possible, for both the vessel and the environment.