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Understanding Cold Weather #2 Fuel Issues

  • By Bob Gatchel
  • 11 Sep, 2015

Fuel Right Founder Bob Tatnall Discusses The Issues With #2 Heating Oil In Winter & How Fuel Right Products Can Quickly & Safely Solve Them

When temperatures plunge fuel sometimes doesn't flow. Why this happens and what one can do about it are widely misunderstood issues and worth discussing.

The first thing that causes cold flow problems - and by far the most common winter problem with diesel fuel and heating oil - is fuel line freeze-ups .

This has nothing to do with the makeup or quality of the fuel itself, but is rather simply water freezing at or below 32 F. Water collects in low spots in fuel lines and at the bottom of tanks. Sludge deposits - which are essentially water-filled masses, likewise usually collect at low spots in the system. When the temperature drops below the freezing point of water these things can freeze solid and restrict flow. Fuel pumps are generally better at pushing fuel than at "sucking" fuel, so they just stop working if the restriction becomes too great.

The answer to fuel line freeze-ups is to use a fuel anti-freeze. Alcohols fit this category - but, for reasons discussed in other tech notes, alcohols are generally not good in #2 fuel systems. A better answer is to treat with glycol ethers. These are used in aviation fuels for the same purpose - and are what are sprayed on the wings of airplanes in the winter to prevent ice buildup. Glycol ethers do not carry any operating downside as do alcohols. What is more, they will accumulate in aqueous deposits throughout the year and offer freeze protection even months later is those deposits are still there when winter arrives.

All Fuel Right products (except for Concentrated Formula, or 30K) contain a healthy amount of DPM glycol ether - the best form of fuel antifreeze. Incidentally, blending kerosene with #2 fuel does nothing to prevent fuel line freeze-ups.

The second problem to occur as the temperature continues to drop is waxing of filters.

Somewhere below about 20 F paraffin starts to come out of the fuel, and the fuel starts to appear cloudy. The temperature at which this happens is reported as the "cloud point" of the fuel. This by itself means little, but it is easy to measure and is often included in fuel analyses. At some point below the cloud point, enough wax has precipitated to build up on the surface of cold filters and, eventually, seal the filter against flow. At this point the system shuts down until the filter is heated or replaced. The wax readily melts back into the fuel if it is warmed slightly.

Waxing is only a problem where the filter and the fuel are cold - usually outdoors. It is retarded or inhibited by treating the fuel with what are called "wax crystal modifiers" - or by blending kerosene into the fuel to dilute the paraffin concentration. Kerosene blending at up to 50% concentration is the best and surest way to retard waxing - but it carries a list of negatives that, in the minds of some, more than make up for its cold-flow benefits.

The last problem to occur as the temperature continues to drop is gelling of the fuel. This occurs when enough wax comes out of the fuel to make it a heavy slush that won't move. The lowest temperature at which the fuel is still a pourable liquid is called the "pour point" of the fuel.
Bob Tatnall, P.E.

To learn more about the line of Fuel Right products can be used to solve all your winter heating oil issues, visit - http://FuelRight.com
And if you have any questions on how best to use the Fuel Right products in your specific application, feel free to call us at 302-425-4400

By Bob Gatchel 09 Feb, 2016

Spring is almost here , and most fuel dealers agree that this has been one of the more challenging heating seasons in recent memory, with many dealers looking at taking a serious financial hit. But there s a bright spot. An easy way to add an extra $30+ in pure profit per customer to the bottom line – with a premium tank treatment program!

Your Customer’s Tank: The Ugly Piece Of Iron That’s A Hidden Profit Center

We know tank failure is one of the reasons customers convert from oil to gas. But by offering a premium tank treatment, you not only give your customers peace of mind, but it can allow you to profit in three ways:

First, when properly presented, customers will gladly pay for this service every year. Secondly, by choosing the right treatment product, you can also lighten the load next season for your service department. And finally, keeping your customer happy, helps you keep your customer for the long term.

Does A Tank Treatment Program Really Make Money? Yes!

One dealer introduced such an annual tank treatment program over 20 years ago, and since then, it continues to bring in well over $100,000 net to their bottom line every year as a result.

Setting Up Your Own High Profit Tank Treatment Program.

STEP 1: Tell Your Customers You’re Now Offering A Premium Tank Treatment Program

It can be a flyer, an “on hold message, a line item on a service contract, or making sure everyone in your company mentions it to your customers. There s no need to promise specific results or guarantees, just that you are offering this service.  

STEP 2: Put The Plan Into Action

You can start the program at any time, but the best time may be during the off-season. Simply have employees that don’t have a lot to do, visit the customer’s site and pour a bottle of treatment into the tank. You could also have your delivery drivers dispense the treatment during a summer fill. For customers who have annual service contracts you could have the technician deliver the treatment while he’s servicing the customer’s system. That’s it! No guarantees, no insurance, no employee training, and no claims!  

STEP 3: While You’re At It, Why Not Use A Treatment That Really Works?

With the flood of additives on the market (all making a lot of claims) you need to select the best, full spectrum treatment that:

(1)      Stops sludge related service calls

(2)      Slows or stops corrosion

(3)      Cleans the system from tank to nozzle

To see a full analysis & rank of all of the major additives, and to help you select the right product for your tank treatment program, just visit http://FuelRight.com

Just How Much Can You Make? It’s Up To You!

Price your program to cover the cost of the treatment product, plus the cost of having it applied by your employees, plus add enough profit on top to make you smile when you look at your year end balance sheet!

A Win-WIn For You & Your Customer!

If you want to add more to your bottom line & retain customer customers, why not consider adding offering a premium tank treatment program.  It’s easy to do, helps increase profits and keeps your customers happy. If you have questions or need more information on to start your own tank treatment program, contact us. We’ll be glad to help design a premium tank treatment program that is right for you.

Bob Gatchel is the National Sales Director for Fairville Products, Inc. the creator of the Fuel Right® line of fuel & system treatment products. Fuel Right® products have been successfully used for more than 20 years in the fuel oil industry & were voted “Best In The US” against corrosion by the PMAA members.. For more information contact Bob at FuelRight.com or 302-425-4400

By Bob Gatchel 11 Sep, 2015
When temperatures plunge fuel sometimes doesn't flow. Why this happens and what one can do about it are widely misunderstood issues and worth discussing.

The first thing that causes cold flow problems - and by far the most common winter problem with diesel fuel and heating oil - is fuel line freeze-ups .

This has nothing to do with the makeup or quality of the fuel itself, but is rather simply water freezing at or below 32 F. Water collects in low spots in fuel lines and at the bottom of tanks. Sludge deposits - which are essentially water-filled masses, likewise usually collect at low spots in the system. When the temperature drops below the freezing point of water these things can freeze solid and restrict flow. Fuel pumps are generally better at pushing fuel than at "sucking" fuel, so they just stop working if the restriction becomes too great.

The answer to fuel line freeze-ups is to use a fuel anti-freeze. Alcohols fit this category - but, for reasons discussed in other tech notes, alcohols are generally not good in #2 fuel systems. A better answer is to treat with glycol ethers. These are used in aviation fuels for the same purpose - and are what are sprayed on the wings of airplanes in the winter to prevent ice buildup. Glycol ethers do not carry any operating downside as do alcohols. What is more, they will accumulate in aqueous deposits throughout the year and offer freeze protection even months later is those deposits are still there when winter arrives.

All Fuel Right products (except for Concentrated Formula, or 30K) contain a healthy amount of DPM glycol ether - the best form of fuel antifreeze. Incidentally, blending kerosene with #2 fuel does nothing to prevent fuel line freeze-ups.

The second problem to occur as the temperature continues to drop is waxing of filters.

Somewhere below about 20 F paraffin starts to come out of the fuel, and the fuel starts to appear cloudy. The temperature at which this happens is reported as the "cloud point" of the fuel. This by itself means little, but it is easy to measure and is often included in fuel analyses. At some point below the cloud point, enough wax has precipitated to build up on the surface of cold filters and, eventually, seal the filter against flow. At this point the system shuts down until the filter is heated or replaced. The wax readily melts back into the fuel if it is warmed slightly.

Waxing is only a problem where the filter and the fuel are cold - usually outdoors. It is retarded or inhibited by treating the fuel with what are called "wax crystal modifiers" - or by blending kerosene into the fuel to dilute the paraffin concentration. Kerosene blending at up to 50% concentration is the best and surest way to retard waxing - but it carries a list of negatives that, in the minds of some, more than make up for its cold-flow benefits.

The last problem to occur as the temperature continues to drop is gelling of the fuel. This occurs when enough wax comes out of the fuel to make it a heavy slush that won't move. The lowest temperature at which the fuel is still a pourable liquid is called the "pour point" of the fuel.
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