Why is it important to test the fuel in your generator frequently?
Thermal expansion in your fuel tank will cause condensation to form in your tank. This happens with the fuel getting warm in the day and cooling at night. This condensation introduces water into the fuel. The water is a breeding ground for algae. The algae will feed on the diesel and cause fuel contamination. This contamination can be eliminated with a diesel fuel additive. Given enough time the fuel tank can also retain the moisture as water that will pose an operational threat to the generator’s engine. So it is necessary to have your tank checked annually to ensure that the water and algae levels are not going to cause operation problems for the generator.
What is a good level of frequency for fuel testing? Annually.
What can happen if the fuel is not tested properly? Can it damage other parts of the generator?
Contaminated fuel can clog your filters resulting in a loss of horsepower. Worst case scenario is that water is introduced to the injection pumps and injectors. This can cause irreparable damage to the fuel injection system and require the disassembly and repair/replacement to the internal parts. Depending on the size of the generator this could cost thousands to tens of thousands of dollars.
Do you need a specialist to test the fuel quality, if so, what is this process and who does it?
A common misconception is that diesel fuel will go “Bad”. Diesel fuel is not like gasoline which will varnish and lose potency. What can happen is diesel can become contaminated and require cleaning. This process is accomplished by running the diesel through centrifugal and paper filter elements to remove the dirt and water from the diesel. This process is known a “Polishing” the fuel. Once the polishing is completed the diesel is good as new. Contact your local Oil company that provides your fuel if they don’t offer this service they will have a vendor that provides the service to them.
How often do you see this problem occur with customers, and does it occur more frequently with a certain kind of customer?
Customers in tropical areas will have this problem more commonly due to the high moisture content in the air and the wide range of temperature variations. This problem can occur in any climate so annual testing of the fuel is recommended.
What’s your bottom-line advice on this issue?
Have your service provider or local oil company come out annually and check your fuel tank for contamination. A ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.