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Fuel Polishing: 6 Things You Need To Know

Like so many good things, diesel fuel doesn’t last forever. But fuel polishing, also called fuel scrubbing, can make it last a lot longer. 

Why is this important? 

Because left unused, generator fuel can go bad. And if your fuel goes bad, you’ll have not one but two new problems:

First, you’ll have to pay for unnecessary new fuel. 

Second, you’ll risk getting stuck in a blackout with no power. Generators need clean fuel to run reliably, and bad fuel compromises their functioning. 

Diesel fuel polishing prevents such issues. Since it’s an essential part of generator maintenance, we’ve collected common questions from customers and are answering them in both video and text below: 

What is Fuel Polishing?

It’s the process of cleaning current generator fuel. This process draws the fuel from the generator tank, through a filter system, and back into the tank. This filter system constantly circulates the fuel through the filter to purify it from common contaminants such as water, bacteria, sludge, and rust. 

Since fuel that stands still for a long time is more vulnerable to microbial build-up, polishing is especially important for infrequently used equipment (i.e. most generators). 

Is Fuel Polishing Different from Fuel Scrubbing?

Short answer – no! Long answer – fuel scrubbing is another way to describe fuel polishing. These terms are interchangeable.

What’s the Difference Between Fuel Replacement and Fuel Polishing?

One saves you a lot of money, the other…does the opposite. 

Diesel fuel polishing purifies your current fuel so that you can use it for a long time to come.

Fuel replacement means that you not only have to buy brand-new generator fuel, but also dispose of your current fuel. This is not only unnecessary (if your fuel can still be polished) but also expensive: since fuel is a hazardous material, the cost of its disposal is unpleasantly high. 

Thus, fuel should only be replaced in extreme cases, when the fuel is too contaminated for even polishing to help. Regular fuel polishing will prevent such cases (and expenses). 

See our video explanation: Difference Between Diesel Fuel Polishing & Replacing Fuel

Why Is Fuel Polishing Important?

It prevents your fuel from going bad, and so helps to prevent your generator from glitching when you need it most. 

Fuel polishing achieves this by capturing water, microbes, rust, and sludge in the filter system. Without this process, such impurities often clog filters and damage other components, such as injectors and fuel pumps

The result? We’ve been called out to several companies who, having left their polishing until too late, ended up with engine failure or their generator suddenly stopping in the middle of a blackout. 

In some cases, injector repairs and a good diesel fuel polishing cleared everything out.

But in the worst cases, this wasn’t enough; the company had to pay for an emergency repair visit, costly hazardous material disposal, and new fuel. 

That’s why regular fuel polishing is a key part of preventative maintenance, as our generator expert explains in this video:

Importance of Fuel Polishing

How Often Does My Generator Need Fuel Scrubbing? 

At least once every three years. 

In addition, run a fuel test every year. This will alert you to the need for polishing before more expensive problems arise.  

How Can I Do Fuel Scrubbing Myself? 

Fortunately, polishing fuel is not difficult! But it does require that you follow a step-by-step process. Watch the following video to see one of our generator technicians explain the whole process:

Cleaning a Generator’s Diesel Fuel Tank

Can I Schedule a Professional Generator Fuel Polishing?

Certainly! Find out more about this and other important generator maintenance, or schedule your own service visit, at 1-800-899-3931 or online here.

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