What is Check Fuel Inlet Before Fishing?
Have you ever experienced a “check fuel inlet” warning on your boat’s dash or instrument panel right before you plan to go fishing? What does this really mean?
More often than not, this problem is due to improper maintenance before and after storage, especially during the colder months. Luckily, simple steps can help you find a solution to avoid the same issue in the future.
Find out more about what is check fuel inlet before fishing, what you can do about it, and several ways you can prevent the same problem from reading through this post!
What Does “Check Fuel Fill Inlet” mean?
According to Michael Parra, an automotive mechanic for 23 years from Your Mechanic Services Inc., the “check fuel fill” warning in cars indicates a problem with the fuel cap covering the fuel fill inlet.
In boats and ships, similar problems in the fuel system, fuel inlet, filling hose, or vent could be causing the warning and preventing the proper flow of gas, fuel, and vapors across and within the system. These include circumstances when:
- The fuel cap or gas cap is not properly and securely attached
- The fuel cap or gas cap is broken, damaged, or missing
- There are contaminants like dust, dirt, or debris around or inside the fuel inlet
- There is water, ice, or snow that may or may not seep into the fuel line
- The fuel tank is overfilled, or the fuel may have expanded due to temperature changes
- There is blockage anywhere in the fuel system
- There is ineffective “breathing” or venting inside the fuel tank
If you don’t find a solution or check what the actual issue is, it can lead to any of the following:
- Fuel leaks into the boat or onto the environment, leading to spills and pollution.
- Fuel blow-backs.
- Cross-contamination between fuels, water, and other liquids.
- A fire spreading.
- An explosion.
- Your boat engine to not start or shudder and sputter.
- Your boat could break down.
Maintenance and Preventive Tips
Boat maintenance is very important in order to have your vessel up and running every time you need it to, even after long periods of storage and inactivity. To do this, here’s what you should do:
- Never store your boat with the tank almost empty.
Storing your boat with very little fuel in the tank can lead to condensation and water buildup inside the tank after a while. This not only hinders the proper burning and flowing of the fuel but also affects the fuel’s quality.
If you plan to store your boat for long periods of at least three months or so, it’s best to fill the tank. A fuel stabilizer is also a nice way to protect the fuel. Also, make sure to have your boat running long enough so that the treated gas reaches the engine as well.
- Always bring a spare fuel filter or a filter element along with a filter wrench.
If your boat has a check fuel inlet warning on and fails to sustain power, there could also be a problem with the plugs or the filter. This can cause debris or water to get into the fuel tank.
In that case, check and remove any elements that you find in the filter element and drain any water buildup.
Fuel vents also have wire screens to protect the vent from debris like insects and dirt and serve as flame arrestors that block sparks from igniting fuel vapors. Through time, these can get corroded and dirty with grime, impairing the function of the vent.
To solve this, check the screen and use a small wire brush to remove gunk and anything clogging the opening. Replace the vent if the screen is already eaten away by corrosion.
Before starting the engine, remember to thoroughly vent the engine box so the clogged filter won’t be much of an issue.Increasing or improving the filtration also prevents debris from accumulating in the tank and getting stirred up when the fuel levels are low.
- Inspect your fuel system regularly.
The Boat US Marine Insurance files record that 5% of all boat fires are related to fuel leaks, which are related to problems associated with the fuel inlet or vents.
However, while 5% seems like a small number, the outcomes are not just small flames but usually involve an explosion of some sort, and all of these could be prevented by simply doing periodic inspections of the fuel system.
By fuel system, meaning all components right from the fuel inlet, the fittings, filler hoses, attachments, tank or tanks, vent, return hoses, outlet, and the point of delivery into the engine. So, essentially everything from the fuel fill to the hull.
When it comes to fuel filling lines that are usually hidden, material damage and failure or even leaks may go unnoticed unless you regularly check them. When the fuel connections leak or are ineffective, explosions, fire, and pollution may occur.
Further, you should make sure that no fuel becomes retained in the filling hose as this can cause blow-backs during refueling. Also, check the hose clamps connecting the joints. If the hose or these clamps appear corroded, worn, cracked or damaged, replace them immediately.
Experts also recommend getting a short fuel filling line as this is more manageable and practical. This also minimizes abrasion damage and prolongs the functionality of the hose.
- Avoid sags in vent or filling hoses.
Make sure to remove any traps or sags anywhere on the vent line during installation of the hose. These serve as basins where the fuel can build up and prevent the vent system from operating properly, leading to more serious problems.
Typically, a vent line runs sideways across the top of the tank up to the hull and then move upward to the vent. Make sure that the hose runs in a straight line to allow gravity to pull the fuel, draining it back to the tank.
- Do not overfill the tank.
Overfilling the tank can be a problem especially when the chamber is pressurized. This can cause fuel or vapors to spray out during refueling or while your boat is running.
- Avoid getting water into the fuel inlet.
To do this, put the vent or fuel inlet somewhere high to prevent water spray from getting into it. When washing the boat, point the nozzle aft and hose down along the boat’s side. You can also cover the opening with a clamshell cover or something similar.
Simple maintenance and inspection routines of your boat’s fuel system can prevent accidents and issues like the “check fuel inlet” warning. It is very helpful to follow these tips and instructions in order to avoid fuel leakage that can eventually lead to fires, explosions, or spills.
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