Water and debris in the bottom half of a filter means a visit to the shop is in order. A writer for The Florida Sportsman reveals in the article below some of the issues that arise after boat spends a winter in storage.
If it’s been three months or longer since you last ran your boat, consider having the fuel system serviced. If you’re buying a used boat which has sat idle for an indeterminate time, definitely get her in the shop before firing her up.
I was reminded of this while watching Wayne Watson remove the cowling on a pristine, garage-kept bass boat at Governors Creek Marine in Green Cove Springs. “Guy brought it in here and said it hasn’t been cranked in over two years,” said Watson. “Take a look at what comes out of the fuel filter.” He emptied the decomposed gasoline from the spin-on water-separating fuel filter. Sludge and debris littered the bottom of a plastic container.
Performing such analysis at home, you might see water, heavier than gas, sink to the bottom of the container. Shake it (careful not to spill), and if you see bubbles in there, resembling vinegar and oil dressing, that’s water. If you see what looks like coffee grounds or dirt floating in there, you need to consult a qualified mechanic. Cap and dispose of your sample at the hazardous waste drop station at your local landfill. Avoid any source of flame or sparks when you assess fuel or fuel system elements.
Water condensation in the fuel tank is another worry, particularly with the alcohol content in ethanol fuels. Alcohol absorbs water, setting off a cascade of problems. If you have a choice, look for ethanol-free gasoline (drive out of the way, if you have to), and never settle for greater than 10 percent ethanol (E10). Otherwise, consult a mechanic to ensure your fuel system components are ethanol-compatible; that should include the installation of a 10-micron fuel filter, as well as assessment of your fuel tank—which may need to be drained and cleaned to remove water and deposits.