How to prepare your fuel storage tanks for winter

How to prepare your fuel storage tanks for winter

It is imperative to prepare your fuel storage tanks before winter and sub-zero temperatures set in. Today’s fuels contain up to 7% FAME (biofuel) which is hygroscopic with water held in suspension, storage tanks can be affected by falling temperatures and as the temperature plummets, fuel ‘waxes’. The colder it becomes, the more difficult your fuel will be to pump or use, as it becomes thicker, known as cold filter plugging point (CFPP).

While generators are generally kept in a preheated room, fuel kept in an external storage tank may become so thick that it cannot be accessed and used. If in any doubt as to how to prepare your oil tanks for the winter, book a winter fuel assessment from a professional company.

Preparing fuel tanks for winter

All bulk tanks should be checked for sludge and water in the bottom, and anything other than clean fuel should be removed immediately.

Take a sample from the bottom middle and top of each fuel tank,  ideally analysed in the “field” for water, particulate and bacterial contamination, or alternatively can be sent to a lab for fuel analysis, providing you with a fuel condition report. Fuel with suspended water in it will attract particular attention, if suspended or “free” standing water is found, it is essential this is removed through filtration/polishing of the fuel through a mobile recirculation process or installation of a fixed filtration system. This process will remove the water and heavy particulates from the tank, further fuel samples should be taken and analysed again to prove the fuel is clean and dry. Removal of water is paramount to tank cleanliness if left untreated microbial contamination will build upon the water/fuel interface, will exponentially double its size every twenty minutes, through secretion, acids may form and accelerate heavy corrosion of the tank internals.

Diesel waxing

Oil or diesel fuel is prone to gelling or waxing in low temperatures. Gelling or waxing are terms for the solidification of diesel into a crystalline or partially crystalline state. Once fuel reaches a temperature below the cloud point - the point at which the diesel becomes cloudy in appearance as it starts to thicken - solid wax particles develop, causing the oil to thicken, which then clogs up fuel injectors and filters. The building up of crystals in the fuel line will eventually cause the fuel to stop running and engines will cease as they are starved of fuel.

“Critical” Standby Generators

The British Standards Institution (BSi) have recognised the importance of fuel quality and cleanliness in their 2016 update of BS5410 Part 3 and noted concerns surrounding critical application standby generators, where the failure of a “critical” generator could result in loss of life. Where critical Standby generators are used, typically in Hospitals, Emergency Services, Highway maintenance, tunnels and other communication centres, BSi recommends a regime of regular fuel sampling and testing, 3monthly, or 6monthly if a fixed fuel filtration system is fitted. Fixed fuel filtration systems should be compliant with SAE J1488 2010_10, this test measures the efficiency of the filtration element to remove suspended or emulsified water in fuel.

Visit Oil Tank supplies for more information about fuel storage tanks.

Top reasons to use steel fuel storage tanks

Top reasons to use steel fuel storage tanks

There are many options to consider when investing in a new fuel storage tank. Design, capacity, dispensing equipment fitted to your tank, and most importantly, the tank material. Steel fuel tanks offer many benefits over plastic tanks, and by choosing a steel tank to store your fuel, you can expect to benefit in several ways. No matter whether it’s diesel tanks, oil tanks or other types of fuel tanks you are looking for, steel fuel tanks are hard to beat.


Steel tanks are appropriate for a vast range of conditions and have a much longer lifespan than tanks made from plastic. While plastic tanks are susceptible to UV degradation, structural failures and damage from machines and vehicles, steel tanks can withstand accidental scrapes and knocks from onsite machinery and have a much better lifespan. A well-finished steel product can withstand the harshest of environments while providing many years of hassle-free refuelling and storage.


Fuel theft can be extremely inconvenient and costly, making the security of a fuel tank a top priority. Machinery and vehicle downtime caused by stolen fuel, possible environmental fines and of course, the cost of replacing the fuel itself, can have a significant negative effect on any business, so ensuring you have a strong and robust tank is essential. Fuel theft has risen in recent years, with thieves specifically targeting plastic tanks which are easier to break into. A well-designed tank that has been constructed out of steel is extremely hard to break into, providing better security and reducing the risks of your fuel being stolen.


The superior lifespan, durability and security of steel tanks provide much better value when compared to plastic tanks, especially over the long term. Plastic tanks can generally only be used in one location, as moving them usually invalidates their warranty. However, steel tanks can be moved and relocated at a future date, if required. This offers more flexibility to owners of steel tanks, and also allows owners to resell their tanks should their future needs change.

Minimal site preparation required

Plastic tanks must be installed according to their manufacturer’s guidelines, which involves placing them on perfectly level concrete bases. The cost for the installation of this type of base alone often costs more than the price difference between plastic and steel tank options. To install a steel tank, minimal site preparation is required, and as long as the base is firm, flat and non-permeable as per the Environment Agency PPG2 guidelines, that is all that is necessary to comply and install a steel fuel tank.


Steel bunded tanks are used in a wide range of industries and applications, including Forestry, Agriculture, Haulage, Construction and Plant Hire. As they can be relocated between sites, even after many years of use in one site, this makes them the best choice for storage tank flexibility. UN approved steel bowsers and tanks are designed for both transporting and storing fuel, and for this reason, they are easily lifted and transported around a site, or transported on motorways. Certain steel models can even be transported full of fuel, making them the best and most reliable option for flexible fuel storage.