We’re once again entering the time of the year when vehicle volumes drastically drop at fueling sites, snow storms become continuous hazards for our canopies, and the chilly temperatures create a whole of host problems for our underground storage tanks.
How do winter temperatures affect underground storage tanks, you ask?
Let’s try to understand…
Winter-Induced Underground Storage Tank Problems
First in line are electrical malfunctions.
Electrical probes, sensors, line leak detectors, submersible pumps and other UST electrical components can be greatly affected during the winter season. They can go adrift, turn faulty, and sometimes, even stop functioning.
This can typically happen when the water inside the UST’s electrical conduits freezes, negatively impacting the functioning of the electrical devices.
Before the winter starts, be sure to have your UST’s electrical conduits inspected for broken seals or damaged openings.
Next we have tank water intrusion problems.
Water as you know is the biggest enemy of your UST tank and everything that’s inside it. Unfortunately, in winter, the chances of tank water intrusion increases significantly.
Freezing temperatures can crack risers on your tank and cause water to seep in. Water can also enter your tank through the loose top fittings.
Once water penetrates your tank, it can rust your tank’s parts and contaminate your fuel stock.
What can you do to mitigate water intrusion risks at your fueling site during winter?
- Repair any cracks on your storage tank through which water may potentially enter the tank
- Have the loose fittings replaced
- Don’t allow water to collect in your spill buckets
Lastly, winter can also cause damage to your old UST pipes.
You’re already aware of the freeze-thaw cycle which occurs in winter. This freeze-thaw cycle causes the soil to expand and contract, creating ground movement. Excessive ground movement can crack or break your older UST piping and expose your gas station operations to leaks.
While you can’t do anything to stop the ground movement or reinforce your older UST pipes, you can check your leak detection alarms to make sure they are in good working order. This way, if there is a potential pipe leak at you gas station, you can immediately detect it and take steps to control the damage.
This winter season, don’t let your underground storage tanks become the victim of chilly temperatures; take steps to protect them.
For further reading: What Can Turn Your Gas from Good to Bad?