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Old 07-03-2016, 03:33 PM   #1
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Oops, put water in fuel tank!

So, I've read about this. We put about 40 gallons of water into the half full port fuel tank. Ran below and shut off both fuel valves right away. Any other steps or wisdom in handling this .
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Old 07-03-2016, 04:19 PM   #2
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fuel will sit on top of the water. If you have a fitting on the bottom of the tank, take it out there. If not, get a pump with a wand that you can hopefully stick down the fill pipe to the bottom of the tank, pump it out.
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Old 07-03-2016, 04:30 PM   #3
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My buddy did that. He had been drinking, came back to his boat to take a shower, no water came on so he deduced that the water tank was empty, he got a hose and started running water in, then tried again to take a shower. Still no water. He investigated, started with making sure water was coming out of the hose and into the tank. Check. Then he made sure that the freshwater pump was working. Check. Then he verified the valve settings. Check. Perplexed, he had another drink to help him figure it out. Then it dawned on him that the water must not be going into the water tank. Then the hair stood up on the back of his neck as he confirmed his worst fear -- he had been adding water to a diesel fuel tank.

He solved the problem without too much trouble -- he got a 55 gallon drum and filled it with water / water fuel drawn from the bottom of the tank. When the drum was full, he let it sit for a day or so, then pumped the fuel / fuel water from the top of the drum back into the tank. Then he put a diaper into the drum, to clean up any residual fuel, then properly disposed of the water. He repeated this a few times until no water was coming out of the fuel tank.
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Old 07-03-2016, 04:32 PM   #4
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My inner optimist says after following the wise counsel you receive here consider hiring a professional to clean and inspect your tanks. Adding inspection/maintenance ports where needed. Turn lemons into lemonade, good luck with your outcome.
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Old 07-03-2016, 04:37 PM   #5
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My inner optimist says after following the wise counsel you receive here consider hiring a professional to clean and inspect your tanks. Adding inspection/maintenance ports where needed. Turn lemons into lemonade, good luck with your outcome.
My inner pessimist says call the professional in first. It's not an uncommon issue for them to deal with but they have the equipment that you don't. You didn't say how many gallons of diesel in the tank, but I'm guessing total including water is a sizable amount.
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Old 07-03-2016, 05:07 PM   #6
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Far, far better than fuel in the water tank. Professional fuel polisher guy can handle that in a snap....and you will have any crap in the bottom of your tanks GONE. A mistake but not w/o benefits.
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Old 07-03-2016, 05:08 PM   #7
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Getting the water out of the tank is the easy part. Disposing of it much more difficult. Don't know your area but as BB suggests, letting the pros deal with it saves a lot of hassle. Forty or more gallons of contaminated water is not a trifling amount.

BTW, I place red duct tape on my 4 deck fuel fills.
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Old 07-03-2016, 05:40 PM   #8
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Professional Help

In addition to the good advice (BandB) offered, consider that ANY spillage, inside or outside the boat, which occurs while rectifying the matter yourself will make things an order of magnitude worse in mess and fine$$$.

Professional help, professional equipment, insurance, and experience...worth it. If you are insured, perhaps now is the time to let them help.

Good Luck

PS - About 15 years ago, while en route from Georgia to South Florida down I-95 I stopped for fuel/toilet/food. I pumped my Jetta TDI full of GAS instead of fuel. That slowed me down for a time, but it was a non-issue for the man that came out and quickly cleaned out the tank.
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Old 07-03-2016, 06:04 PM   #9
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I pumped my Jetta TDI full of GAS instead of fuel. That slowed me down for a time, but it was a non-issue for the man that came out and quickly cleaned out the tank.
It's all something new and so when it happens we panic, to them it's a normal part of their business. It's just more than a little water, but doesn't really matter to them.
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Old 07-03-2016, 06:21 PM   #10
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Been there, done that. Ten plus years ago I fueled up in Oxford, Md. and did the same thing. I immediately recognized the problem and shut off the starboard side tank and ran only on the port.


We were heading to Annapolis I called a few fuel polishers. No one answered and no one returned our call. So it was a do it your self deal. I went to Fawcetts (back when they were off of ego alley) and bought a long hand bilge pump.


The boat was a sailboat and the fuel tanks were right in the bottom of the bilge, starboard aft and port forward. So I pulled up the floor boards and pulled off the tank gauge and that left me with a 4" opening into the bottom of the fuel tank. I dropped in the bilge pump and filled a pot with a gallon. It was all water. So I dumped it overboard and kept going. After ten fills I started to get diesel. I poured off the water to near the diesel line and put the rest in another container. I did this another half dozen times until I was mostly getting diesel.


I carefully drained the second container back into the fuel tank and dumped the rest. All in all I may have dumped a pint of diesel. Not good for the environment but I have seen worse at the fuel docks.


Then I started the engine on the good tank and switched to the bad and watched the Racor. Sure enough in a few minutes I had water in the bottom. So I dumped the water and kept going for another hour during which I probably dumped a half gallon or so of water until it started diminishing.


Then a few days later we cruised up to Chesapeake City which is 4 hours away. I kept an eye on the Racor and dumped another quart during that period. After then I just kept an eye on the Racor especially in heavy seas.


All turned out well. But you need access to the tank for that to work. If it were my current Mainship Pilot 34 with the tanks on either side under the side deck, it wouldn't work that way. But that fuel system has a low pickup so I could have disconnected the hose and dumped most of the water that way and then started the engine and dumped the Racor until it cleared.


Good luck. Maybe the fuel polishers will return your call!!


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Old 07-03-2016, 09:40 PM   #11
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It all depends upon how quickly you need this issue taken care of. If you want it corrected asap, then hire it out. If you have a couple days and patience you can do it yourself.

One thing to make sure of: You mentioned you shut off the tank with the water in it. Make sure you shut off the fuel RETURN to that tank also. keep that tank completely isolated as you run. only treat that tank with water in it.

BUT, getting water out of fuel tanks is really important.

MYTraveler gave you really good scenario.

Using an electric pump (rated for diesel use) ((NOT a home depot special)) and pumping the fuel out of the tank into a 55 gallon drum and letting it settle is the answer. You could probably do it in 5 gallon amounts also. BUT, depending upon where you do this may attract attention, and if the marina is paying attention may actually report you for doing unauthorized fuel transfers!

Once you put the water diesel mixture into a drum and let it sit overnight it will separate. Then you can siphon off the diesel off the top and re load it into your tanks. But, since you want to err on the side of caution you will leave some diesel in the barrel. The legal issue is that the left over water must be 'treated' by a licensed treatment facility. If you happen to pour it into the water you could be on the hook for thousands of $$$ in fines.

Can you get away with just dumping it? Maybe. Is it worth it? Tough call. I certainly can't tell you what to do with the water. If you leave it out in the open it will evaporate. That's actually legal to do! But do you have that amount of time to wait?
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Old 07-03-2016, 09:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IRENE View Post
In addition to the good advice (BandB) offered, consider that ANY spillage, inside or outside the boat, which occurs while rectifying the matter yourself will make things an order of magnitude worse in mess and fine$$$.

Professional help, professional equipment, insurance, and experience...worth it. If you are insured, perhaps now is the time to let them help.

Good Luck

PS - About 15 years ago, while en route from Georgia to South Florida down I-95 I stopped for fuel/toilet/food. I pumped my Jetta TDI full of GAS instead of fuel. That slowed me down for a time, but it was a non-issue for the man that came out and quickly cleaned out the tank.
Yeah, I did that too, in Annapolis. Green handle on pump confused me...Texas thing, Diesel in TX pumps have green handles...not necessarily in Maryland. PITA and pocketbook.
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Old 07-03-2016, 09:54 PM   #13
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Any other steps or wisdom in handling this .
Thanks
Don't know what your tank / drain situation is bur I'm right in the middle of a similar situation. ..put approx 10. +\_ gal of water in my diesel tank last wkend.

No excuses...early AM no drinks...no hot sun...just mins elsewhere..it hapoens.
I disconnected engine feed _ Low pt on tank. Drained what water I could...bought a NAPA separating canister filter & housing...borrowed a fuel safe pump and started pumping returning to the fill...bpttom of cartridge hada drain andcoulddrain water and monitor qty / time. ..as long as its decreasing yoyare making progress... ran it today...enough RPM tp getbow up and drew off more water thru Racors...I onstalled a petcock & hose yrs ago and it has proved a great addition. ..allows draining water - at idle speed w/o shutting down to drain.
Changed Racor and offline canusters when I gotback to dock...repeat until all watet is gone is the plan.
Engine ran fine up to 3200 RPM and no Hesitation. ..Racors are doing there job.
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Old 07-03-2016, 09:59 PM   #14
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I separated water best I could...used oil pads to draw the small amt of diesel still floating...pads went in trash and dumped water on land...gave the diesel to a shop owner thatcollects waste oil to burn for heat in a waste oil boiler. ..win...win...no cost
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Old 07-03-2016, 11:28 PM   #15
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The good news is you only do this once.
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Old 07-05-2016, 01:04 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunchaser View Post
Getting the water out of the tank is the easy part. Disposing of it much more difficult. Don't know your area but as BB suggests, letting the pros deal with it saves a lot of hassle. Forty or more gallons of contaminated water is not a trifling amount.

BTW, I place red duct tape on my 4 deck fuel fills.
When we bought our boat two years ago one of the first changes I made was to paint the deck fuel plug red.
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Old 07-05-2016, 01:26 PM   #17
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My 2 cents worth


Having carried more petroleum product in one trip than most people will see in a life time, get a professional. It will protect your boat, you and the environment. It is amazing how water can stay suspended in oil.
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Old 07-05-2016, 01:33 PM   #18
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One of the nice features of my trawler is the water fills are in the bow and fuel fills are in the stern with no side decks between them. Worst I could do is put some diesel in the poop tank.

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Old 07-05-2016, 01:56 PM   #19
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One of the nice features of my trawler is the water fills are in the bow and fuel fills are in the stern with no side decks between them. Worst I could do is put some diesel in the poop tank.

Ted
Agreed. My fuel fills are in the aft cockpit, nothing else there. For those with fuel fills on the side, I like the suggestion of painting the fuel fills.

Sorry about this happening ghost.
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Old 07-05-2016, 04:23 PM   #20
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Agreed. My fuel fills are in the aft cockpit, nothing else there. For those with fuel fills on the side, I like the suggestion of painting the fuel fills.

Sorry about this happening ghost.
And I do suggest them having what they're for clearly on the cap and reading it out loud, each and every time. Saying first what you have in your hand or the deck hand has after you verify, then the cap. It's there. The only issue is not reading and the remedy is to do so outloud.
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