Thursday, October 6, 2016

Storing Gasoline

Many of us own gasoline powered generators and other power tools that run on gasoline. Despite the fact that this is one of the most commonly used types of fuels, many people don’t know that it has a relatively short shelf life. Some say that untreated gas only has a shelf life of about three months but in my experience, that might be stretching it a bit. Gasoline will degrade over time. A fuel stabilizer will help to keep that gas good for a longer period. I’ve stored stabilized fuel for 2 years without a problem. But I think that’s pushing it. For my fuel storage I use a year as my bench mark. I rotate fuel through my vehicles. I set my standard at a year, but in truth, it’s probably closer to 3 to 6 months. Do not put bad gas in a vehicle! It will mess up an engine fast. I use screens and filters as much as possible when transferring gas from container to vehicle/equipment. Keep good records of when you bought the gas, when it was stabilized, and rotated. Always use stabilizer.
If you store gasoline in a generator so that it will always be ready when you need it, there’s a good chance that your generator won’t start when you need it the most. Gasoline WILL go bad when it is stored for very long. In addition to it becoming less combustible, other things can happen to it. For example, water condensation can accumulate inside the container, and as I’m sure you know, water doesn’t burn too well in any engine.
Another thing that can happen is a process called “oxidation” which can reduce the octane quality of the gasoline. This can also result in sludge like deposits accumulating in the tiny orifices of your engine’s carburetor. If you allow this to happen, simply draining out the old gasoline and replacing it with fresh gas won’t help you a bit. Your engine still won’t run because the new fresh gas won’t be able to flow properly through the carburetor. You’ll need to pull the carburetor and give it a thorough cleaning with carburetor cleaner.
Once gas has already gone bad, it’s too late to add fuel stabilizer to it since the degradation of the fuel has already taken place. I’ve had some success when I’ve mixed old gasoline with new gasoline for use in non-critical tools like lawn mowers and rototillers. Having said that, I would never suggest running old fuel in critical tools like generators.
Store fuel, any fuel, away from flame and if possible away from sheds and buildings. Ours in locked in a chain link dog kennel. It originally did not have a roof so I put one on it. This way it is secured but far enough from buildings. Be careful to store fuel away from stored water too. Check the laws in your area for fuel storage as far as how and what amounts. Often that limit is 25 gallons. Make sure the containers are approved for fuel storage. Other containers may degrade or crack. They say to only fill containers 95%. I say, the fuller the container, the fresher the fuel. But it does expand with heat so leave some room. Use good judgement. Cap it tight. Keep fuel storage out of the sun.
If you have a generator, you must have gas storage. How much is up to you. It can be a lot of work to stabilize, store, and rotate fuel. I think it’s worth it, but many would only want a few 5 gallon cans. I try to keep about 50 to 65 gallons on hand. If you put yourself on a schedule, you can rotate all of it in 6 months. It does cost more to keep it safe, stabilized, and fresh, but the options I feel I have because I have an extra 50 gallons of gas ready to use at any time, gives me the options to run vehicles and equipment that will make a big difference in a grid down situation.
I’ve included a reference to an earlier article about siphoning that may be of help with storing gas. Siphoning Gas/Water 2/29/2016

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