8 Important Safety Precautions to Take When Installing Your Fuel Water Separator

Fuel Water Separator

In 2019, the number of registered and documented boats peaked at 11.9 million, with that number only increasing. Whether you are a seasoned nautical boater or still learning the ropes, there are certain aspects of your boat that you must check periodically. From the obvious things, like the hull for cracks, or the not so obvious like the fuel water separator.

Without proper maintenance, you may find yourself in a difficult situation out in the water or perhaps having to spend thousands on repairing your boats engine. For today we will talk a little more about the importance of the fuel water separator and some precautions you should take when changing or installing it.

What Does a Fuel Water Separator Do?

Fuel water separators not only help to remove contaminants and debris from your fuel before it reaches the engine. It also removes any water found in your fuel.  As you can imagine, this filtering activity is crucial to ensure the optimal performance of your boats engine.  Any contaminants or water which enters the engine will cause long-term damage to the engine and you don’t want to find yourself out on the open water with engine troubles.

 To go further into detail about how a fuel water separator works, let’s briefly explain the process.

As fuel enters the fuel water separator, it is passed through a 10 micron H & V Coalescer filter media.  This filter removes over 99% of the particulates in the fuel, and acts as a barrier to the water which is inherently found in the fuel.   The denser liquid (water) is pushed towards the outside of the filter media and it “falls” to the bottom of the filter.  At the bottom of the filter there is a clear drain bowl where the water is collected and contained.  On a regular basis (i.e. weekly pending amount of use and the estimated percent of water in your fuel or in higher humidity environments), you should view the water level in the drain bowl.  If the bowl contains any water, open the valve at the bottom of the drain bowl and place the unwanted water into a container for proper disposal.

This simple process is what protects your engine and keeps it healthy!

Why Have a Fuel Water Separator & Which One to Use?

Even though having a fuel water separator is essential, some people mistakenly forgo installing one. What are the effects of not having it? The main reason is to keep your engine and other vital equipment on your boat healthy.

Allowing too much water into your fuel will ultimately make you pay a hefty price. We are talking about engine repair or even replacement. Imagine paying upward of $4,000 to fix your engine when you could have bought a fuel water separator for less than $70 bucks.

What are the two most common separators? Diesel and Marine separators. Let’s take a closer look.

Diesel Water Separator

As diesel contains more water than gasoline, it is vital to have a separator filter out the water and other contaminants. Most separators will have a sensor to let you know that the water collecting unit is full. You can drain it directly from the engine whenever you perform maintenance.

Marine Fuel Water Separator

Usually used on boats, a marine fuel water separator is almost the same as a diesel water separator. The difference is that it can function as a primary or secondary filter. Having a marine fuel water separator as a secondary filter means you can be extra sure that no water or contaminant is entering your fuel. Whether you’re looking for an outboard fuel water separator or a diesel fuel water separator, a good fuel filter water separator should be fully configurable.

Be sure to verify with the engine manufacturer to know what sort of filter to use.

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Safety Precautions During Installation

Now that you better understand the significance and use of a fuel water filter, we can move onto the precautions to keep in mind. Remember to have your engine off and cooled before attempting the installation.

1. Safety Equipment

Like all things mechanical, even more things that involve fuel intake, we should use gloves and safety glasses as to not to hurt ourselves. Remember that some fuel may spill, so if you are sensitive to fumes, it is best to use a mask while installing the fuel water filter.

2. Place Filter in an Accessible Place

Since you will need to change the filter and the fuel water filter system, you should install it in a section where you can easily access it. Make sure to place in an area that cannot be bumped or hit.

3. Shutoff Valve

Since you will be handling the engine’s fuel line, you should make sure to cut off the gas tank. Cutting off the fuel can usually be done with a shutoff valve on the gas tank. If there is not a valve, use a hose clamp on the fuel line.

4. Container for Fuel

At some point, fuel will be leaking out of the fuel line or when installing the filter itself. Even though diesel is not as ignitable as gasoline, it can damage the floor area of your boat if left there too long. So make sure to have a container underneath the site you are installing the filter.

5. Sturdy Mount

Read the instruction carefully when using a special fuel water separator mounting bracket kit. You cannot place mount brackets on the hull itself. It would be best if you first drilled it onto waterproof plywood as a mounting plate.

6. Marine Grade Seal

Double-check that the seal you will be using has a marine-grade seal. If it’s not, then water will slowly wash away the seal, which will lead to a fuel leak on your boat.

7. Check for Fuel Leaks

Once you install the filter, switch the shutoff valve to allow fuel to pass through again. Inspect the fuel lines thoroughly, do not turn on the engine unless you are confident there are no leaks.

8. Filter Maintainance

Replace your filters every 100 running hours to make sure your filter effectively filters out water and other debris. Always keep an extra replacement filter on hand if you need to change it while out in the water. Replace the entire system every year as well.


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Keep Your Boat Healthy

As you will see, installing the filter will be easy. Just make sure you always keep in mind the precautions stated above. If you are looking for a durable mounting bracket kit, feel free to browse our selection. We will also have fuel water separators that suit your boating needs.

If you have a more specific project in mind, feel free to contact our specialized technicians. We are sure they will be able to help you out.

What other precautions should you keep in mind when installing a fuel water separator? Leave a comment below or reach out to us at Clear Flow Filtration Systems today!