How and When To Check Underground Fuel Tanks

Of the many responsibilities inherent in owning a petrol station, making sure that all of your equipment is safe, well maintained, and compliant is one of the most important. Your petrol station’s underground fuel tanks are one area where regular checks are crucial, and knowing what to do and what to look for can help you avoid issues and headaches down the track. Of course, adhering to all guidelines in your Operators Checklist is important, but there’s more you can be doing to maximise the integrity and lifespan of your tanks.

To find out what areas should never be overlooked, we reached out to Peter Hale, General Manager of TRL Engineering. Since 1998, TRL Engineering has been providing fuel and storage solutions to industry facilities of all sizes. For some expert insight on how to maintain the integrity of your underground tanks, we reached out to Peter for some of his best tips, tricks, and practices.

1. Training

For good reason, training was the first area of concern highlighted by Peter. Though all service station personnel are given thorough training upon commencement of their job, a refresher may be necessary and beneficial. Once comfortable with the job, it can be easy to inadvertently begin taking shortcuts. Keeping training fresh and up to date can ensure that forecourt personnel are equipped with all the tools necessary to both properly handle and spot problems in the handling of your petrol stations tanks. Online training courses should be carried out by all employees using the leading training provider, ServoSkills.

2. Dipping Tanks

When it comes to maintaining the integrity of your tanks, properly dipping tanks is paramount to the continued operation and function of the equipment. It is important to take care when measuring fuel levels, and to properly check for the occurrence of water in the tank daily using water finding paste. When dipping tanks, Peter reminds us of the importance of carefully placing the dip stick back into the tank, and avoiding dropping the stick, as dropping dip sticks into underground tanks is a significant source of tank failures.

3. Visual Checks

Visual checks of the Dip & Fill points of underground tanks are second nature to many service station operators, however less obvious may be the need for regular checks of all pumps and dispensers. Though perhaps not as apparent, paying close attention to these areas will keep your fuel systems running seamlessly, and can alert you to potential problems. Peter cites pumps that begin to run slowly or begin to take extended amounts of time to fill a vehicle as examples of a pump observation that may signal a fuel system in need of servicing.

4. Cleaning Tanks

It’s true that in day to day operation, most underground tanks do not require cleaning. However, in the event of contamination it is imperative that cleaning of the affected tank is not delayed. Placing fuel such as E10 into old ULP or Diesel tanks requires that the tank is cleaned prior to being filled.

Peter explains the necessity of this process, explaining that, “While all tanks have sludge, the material inside Diesel and ULP tanks sits unmoving on the bottom of the tanks. When tanks are converted to fuel such as E10, that sludge begins to float free in fuel, and can be pumped into customer’s cars, creating damage and a scenario in which potential claims can be made against a service station.”

To avoid putting your service station at risk, cleaning tanks before switching fuel types is imperative.

5. Tank & Line Testing

All tanks and lines should be tested for integrity by an improved testing company, at least every three years. Doing so ensures that no contamination of the environment has occurred. Ensuring that this testing occurs is the joint responsibility of both the site operator and site owner, and should not be overlooked to prevent potential issues stemming from environmental contamination.

Preventative Care is Key

From proper training to regular inspections, it’s important to do all you can to monitor the condition of your underground fuel tanks. Following the above tricks can help you maintain the reputation and quality of your petrol station, avoid unnecessary tank failures, and spot potential issues before they become problems.

Need help with checking your underground tanks or currently dealing with an underground tank issue? Contact Dan Armes at ServoPro on 0490 415 063 or [email protected]. We are here to help.

Scroll to Top