Boat Fuel Tank Cleaning

Woman in Safety Gear
Safety first when cleaning fuel tanks

Boat fuel tank cleaning should be a part of your regular maintenance routine, particularly if your vesssel has sat for an extended time during the off-season. You need to as good a care of your boat fuel tank as you do your boat hull. A sludgy fuel tank can cause engine problems that even the best fuel filter won't

Understand Boat Fuel Tank Cleaning

When it comes to boat fuel tank cleaning, you need to understand what happens to boat fuel in a sealed tank. When fuel is sealed inside a tank, it will begin to breakdown chemically, separating into the additives and fuel components. The additives will sink, concentrating at the bottom of the tank as a thick sludge. Condensation will also form in the tank as the additives break apart, creating moisture, which adds to the sludge. This is what you need to clean when you are flushing out your boat's fuel tank.

You will find multiple suggestions for cleaning your boat fuel tank online. Understand that cleaning out your fuel tank includes cleaning out flammable material. If you have questions or concerns, you should contact a professional. Cleaning your fuel tank should always be performed with safety as the primary objective. Clean it in an area that is well ventilated and avoid sparks while handling materials.

One standard method for cleaning your boat fuel tank begins with draining the tank of old fuel, sludge and debris. You will need some clear vinyl tubing, an air compressor, a nozzle and a container for the bad fuel to go into.

Drain the Tank

Remove the fuel cap and plug any vent piping. Be sure you disconnect your fuel line prior to where it enters the water filter. Add the vinyl tubing so that it goes into the container you want to drain the tank into prior to putting the air compressor and nozzle to the fuel filler port.

Turn on the air compressor and slowly increase the pressure to force the fuel out of the tank. If air is escaping from somewhere around the tank, use wet clothes to seal it. Continue draining the tank with air pressure until all of it is out.

Vacuum and Refill the Tank

Use a wet dry vacuum to suction out the rest of the loose debris. Once you have drained the fuel and debris, you can add an evaporator product along with fresh fuel. You may have to change the filter a couple of times as you run the new fuel through, cleaning out any remaining bits of debris.

Professional Fuel Service

If you are not comfortable with cleaning your own boat fuel tank, consider hiring a company to handle this important task for you. There are many professional marine fuel service cleaners you can consult for your fuel cleaning needs.

  • Capitol Marine Industries - This company offers multiple marine cleaning needs from cleaning your fuel tank to your bilge tanks.
  • The Boat Grotto - Based in San Diego, The Boat Grotto offers full service repair and fuel tank cleaning.
  • Clean Fuel Management - This company offers marine fuel service products and advice.
  • Fuel Filtration Service - Located in Florida, this company offers environmentally safe, professional fuel tank cleaning.
  • Injector Renew - Injector Renew provides fuel injector cleaning for most marine, automotive and motor sports vehicles.

You should clean the fuel tank on your boat annually and after any extended storage time. Regular cleaning will protect your engine and enhance the performance.

Boat Fuel Tank Cleaning