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Understanding Water Contamination In Diesel Engines

The efficient operation of your diesel engine is highly dependent on the quality of your fuel. If your fuel is contaminated, your engine may not operate at its optimal power. Also, depending on the type and degree of contamination, your engine could get seriously damaged. This article highlights the occurrence, hazards and control of water contamination in your diesel fuel.



Is your Diesel contaminated with Water?

The most common indicator that your diesel may be contaminated is inconsistency in the performance of the engine. If your engine suddenly cuts out during acceleration or loses power for no reason, your fuel may be contaminated. Also, if your engine emits dense black or white smoke, you should have it checked. 


However, to be sure that your fuel is contaminated, you should drain some of your fuel and let it settle in a clear glass container overnight. Since water is heavier than diesel, there will be a clear separation of the two fluids. 



Hazards of Water In Diesel

Prolonged exposure to contaminated fuel can cause irreparable damage to parts of your engine. Some of these could be:

Rust: as the water settles at the bottom of your fuel tank and in depressions along the fuel line, it can cause the metal to rust. The rust particles dislodge and mix in with flowing fuel as moves through sensitive engine components. This causes abrasion and blockage of vital systems such as your fuel injectors. 

Growth of microbes: the presence of free water in your fuel system can support the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. These microbes can produce slime and acids that can corrode your engine components slowly. The contamination due to microbes can be especially difficult to deal with.

Fuel Water Separators


How To Eliminate Water From Diesel Fuel

Depending on the extent of contamination, there are various ways to eliminate the water in your fuel tank. Here are a few simple yet effective methods.

1. Bleed the Tank: 

Fuel tanks usually have a bleed valve that you can use to drain the fuel from its lowest point. You can let the fuel settle for a day or two then bleed the tank. Since water is heavier than diesel, it will settle at the bottom of the tank and come out first. 

2. Drain and clean the tank: 

If the contamination level is very high, or if you only have a little fuel tank, the easiest solution may be to drain and clean out the tank. However, you may need a fuel tank specialist to help you put measures to prevent future contamination.


3. Fuel Water Separators:

The most effective way to eliminate and prevent future build-up of water in your fuel tank is to use a fuel water separator. These systems can eliminate all the free water in diesel fuel as well as other contaminants. The fuel water separator also works well with the first two water elimination methods listed here.


It is crucial to monitor the condition of your diesel engine. This way, it is easy to know if it has a problem. Many people incur unnecessary repair expenses because they take too long to respond to changes in their engine’s performance. Fuel water separators can be installed as a precautionary measure to protect your engine from water contamination and consequent damage.

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