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Water and Draining Fuel Filters

The Filter Guys

Most primary fuel filters have drains that allow the operator to drain the water that has been separated by the filter. The frequency with which the primary fuel filter needs to be drained is ultimately dependent on the quality of fuel that is being used. Most OEMs recommend draining your water separator daily. It is also recommended to pay attention to how much water is removed at each drain and adjust the frequency of servicing accordingly.

Why Remove Water in Fuel?

Water in fuel can prematurely wear and oxidize the steel components within the fuel injectors, leading to:

  • Rusting and corrosion of components
  • Governor/metering component failure
  • Sticky metering components (both pump and nozzle)
  • Injection component wear and seizure

Free or emulsified water must be removed from the fuel to prevent corrosion and damage to the fuel system. Fuel additives may claim they remove water, when really they dissolve the water. Which in turn, will pass through the filter and enter fuel injectors.

Types of water contamination in diesel fuel:

1) Emulsified water: water suspended in the fuel

2) Free water: water separated from the fuel and generally collected at the bottom of the fuel or the fuel storage tank

3) Dissolved water: water chemically dissolved in the fuel

Maintenance Recommendations & Guidelines

  • Drain water from your primary filter daily when refueling
  • Carry a spare set of fuel filters in case you receive a “bad” load of fuel
  • Never switch to more open filter to get longer filter life, you are trading away fuel pump and injector life
  • Never use fuel to lube the gasket. Fuel isn’t as slick as oil and if you use fuel it could cause gaskets to bunch or pinch when it is tightened, causing the filter to leak.

If using biodiesel:

  • make sure your fuel supplier meets current fuel standards
  • make sure your engine is compatible with the concentration (or percent) biodiesel you wish to use
  • When using your own fuel storage tank, remember that removing contaminants before they reach the vehicle is the best practice. Ensure you have effective bulk storage tank filtration.

 

Air filters: What is the purpose of a safety filter?

The Filter Guys

What is the purpose of a safety filter? Safety filter, secondary filter, inner filter; there are many names, we prefer to call it a safety filter.

A safety filter backs up the primary filter, and protects the clean air ducting while the primary is out of the housing during service. The engine should never be run with only a safety filter in place.

The safety filter is NOT a spare filter! Its purpose is to protect the engine if something goes wrong with the primary (main) filter. Until then, all it does is take up space and add a little bit of restriction.

What can go wrong with the primary filter?

It may have hidden damage from shipping that you missed when you inspected it before installation; damage from cleaning (if you carry out such an unrecommended procedure); maybe even a manufacturing glitch; mis-installation by the mechanic (but this never happens, right?); a ‘will-fit’ that doesn’t quite fit; or it’s the wrong part altogether and doesn’t fit at all into the housing (but mechanics would never try this, would they?)

All of these things happen more often than any of us like to think. We determined many years ago that a really good way to provide additional protection for large engines operating in heavy dust conditions was to always offer and for you to always use a safety filter.

There are some characteristics about the safety filter which you should be aware of, so you understand what it does and doesn’t do for your engine:

  • is smaller than the main filter, with less media.
  • is more open and less efficient for lower restriction.
  • has less contaminant-holding capacity so that it will plug rapidly if any engine-damaging dust particles get past a damaged primary filter.

A safety filter offers protection against mistakes when fitting and reduces the need to open the clean air side of the system by 66% (they usually only need changing once every three main filter changes) compared to systems without a safety filter. They are an excellent insurance against contaminants entering your engine and upon a critical failure of the main element can save your engine from serious damage.