Seasonal tips for fuel storage tank maintenance
Weather can have a huge impact on construction work – especially when it comes to fuel. As a vital resource that keeps your site up and running, you must carry out regular inspections and checks to keep your fuel in top condition. With these handy maintenance tips, you can keep your tanks risk-free and ready to refuel throughout the year.
How does weather affect construction?
Wind, rain and excessive heat or cold can make working on a construction site less enjoyable, but when weather conditions become extreme, they can stop work entirely. Research has found that adverse weather delays 45% of construction projects worldwide, costing billions of dollars.
Heavy rain can cause the ground to become muddy, affecting the ability of drivers to control their vehicles, and work surfaces to become slippery underfoot, making it dangerous to continue work. Extended rain can also lead to flooding, which can damage machinery and threaten the safety of construction workers who may be working below ground level or in confined spaces.
As the weather gets colder, low temperatures, ice and snow can make a construction site unworkable. Concrete shouldn’t be poured when the temperature is below 37°F as ice can form in the mix, compromising its strength. The ground may be too slippery to work safely or for machinery to operate, and snow can reduce visibility or halt projects entirely until it thaws.
Adverse weather can directly impact the availability of fuel. Deliveries may be impacted, meaning sites will need to store fuel in bulk to avoid running out. Reduced visibility also increases the likelihood of fuel theft. Our TransCube Global tank has the latest features to keep your fuel secure. Its double-walled design means your stock is contained, and the lockable equipment cabinet adds another layer of security.
Extreme heat can also cause issues as it increases the risk of dehydration and sunstroke. These are serious conditions in their own right and they can impair the judgement of construction workers which is particularly dangerous when operating heavy machinery.
Weather doesn’t just affect the ability of construction workers to do the job – it also has implications for how fuel storage tanks need to be maintained. In the next section, we look at what you need to be doing to keep your fuel in top condition throughout the year.
How to maintain your fuel tanks for each season
Each season brings its own particular fuel tank maintenance challenges. Spring and summer offers an opportunity to make important checks and tests to ensure your tank is in good working order. During the autumn and winter months, regular inspections help ensure that no damage is caused to your tank or fuel by extreme weather.
In the following sections, we break down the checks and maintenance you need to do in each season.
Autumn and winter
As the weather becomes colder and wetter, there are a number of potential implications for your fuel tank.
As the weather fluctuates from freezing to milder temperatures, this puts an extra strain on tank materials. You should check your tank bunds and all seams and joints to ensure there is no damage.
Your fuel tank should ideally be located away from anything that could be a falling hazard, but after storms and strong winds, you should check your tank to ensure that fallen trees or branches and any debris that might have blown into the tank haven’t caused any damage.
If you run your tank close to empty, water, sludge and sediment can form at the bottom. When the weather is at freezing temperatures, this sediment can freeze and result in blockages and performance issues in heaters. It’s best to keep your tank full to avoid pumping out any of this sludge.
Diesel fuel contains paraffin wax to increase lubrication and viscosity. As temperatures drop below the cloud point – when the fuel thickens and becomes cloudy – solid wax particles are formed. This can clog up machinery as the fuel is pumped and eventually render the fuel ineffective. You can use winter-grade fuel, add additives to your fuel or insulate your tank to help avoid this.
If you’re using Diesel Exhaust Fluids (DEF), you need to be especially careful in cold weather because its freezing point is typically around 12 degrees fahrenheit – higher than most other fuels. Our portable DEFCube has a poly inner and steel outer tank which helps to maintain the temperature of the fuel and we can provide an optional heater kit to keep DEF from freezing in cold climate applications.
With more frequent rain, snow and ice, autumn and winter can increase the chance of water entering your fuel supply. If water does get into the fuel, it could freeze and cause serious problems. Ensure you’re checking for contamination and following your maintenance schedule throughout these seasons.
Spring and summer
With spring cleaning in full swing, why not use this period as an opportunity to clean your fuel storage tank?
Keeping your tank clean is vital to ensure it continues to work effectively. Depending on local regulations, you may only be required to clean your tank once every several years. However, more and more companies are performing cleans on a regular basis. This helps to avoid costly headaches that may result from debris or impurities in the tank.
The cleaning process involves using biocides that will kill any bacteria present in the tank, including diesel bug, and removing any sludge, impurities or debris that may have settled at the bottom. If this debris is drawn through an engine or generator, it can cause a huge amount of damage, so it’s important that it’s removed.
As well as cleaning the tank itself, the area around your tank should be cleared of debris or vegetation every week – especially if you’re using a stationary unit or leaving leave a transportable tank in one place for a long time. Plants can cause damage to the containment area through their root structure and vegetation can cause excess moisture, leading to corrosion. Keeping the area clean is a quick piece of routine maintenance that means drips, leaks or spills can be identified straight away.
Our double walled fuel tanks simplify the cleaning and inspection process. The removable inner tank makes cleaning and purging a fuel tank very easy and the inspection hatch helps you maintain and inspect the tank without having to fully take it apart. Proper care should always be taken when cleaning your tank, and the disposal of any fuel, residue or chemicals should follow your local regulations.
Check the containment area weekly for rainwater or fuel. If you find any, this will need to be removed and investigated. Rainwater left in the containment area can damage the tank. If you find fuel, you should determine the cause. Was this from overfilling? Or is there an issue with the tank causing a leak? Identifying and fixing these at the earliest opportunity will help to avoid any potential fines or further damage.
Removing water or product requires competence and the appropriate PPE. Any waste should be treated as hazardous and disposed of following your local regulations.
The components within the tank, such as ball valves, vents, fittings and pipelines, should be visually checked every week for signs of leaks or any damage that might stop them from working properly. Any damage should be fixed at the earliest opportunity.
Safety signage around your storage tank is extremely important. You’ll want to display an easily-read ‘flammable’ sign at the minimum, and signs warning against smoking and overfilling are also a good idea, as well as any mandatory by law in your area. You should make a monthly check to ensure that safety signs aren’t worn or damaged. If they are, make sure they are replaced immediately.
You should have appropriate firefighting media fitted around the tank. Make a weekly check to ensure everything is in place and they are still fit for purpose. Remember to make a diary note to test and record their pressure and function every 6 months.
If you have firefighting media fitted, make a weekly check to ensure everything is in place. weekly – and remember to make a calendar reminder to test and record their pressure and function every 6 months.
This is a great opportunity to also check for bolt tightness and paint deterioration, which should also be done every 6 months.
These simple service steps will guarantee you’re ready for action, whatever the weather might throw at us.
Our reliable Transcube Global fuel tank
Our Transcube Global fuel tank is one of the world’s most reliable, flexible and portable fuel storage tanks. They have a number of features that make them more durable and less susceptible to extreme weather, including:
- A galvanised frame that provides a strong and durable structure.
- A removable inner tank for easier cleaning, maintenance and inspection.
- A double walled fuel tank with built-in secondary containment that removes the need for drip trays.
- An inner tank access hatch that makes maintenance and inspection easy.