In the span of two weeks, both of my plastic, five-gallon gas cans sprung tiny, pinhole leaks in multiple places. I loathe gas cans to begin with—their faulty spill-proof features also make them practically use-proof—but this looked like an entirely new problem to give me even more gas can grief.
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I first noticed one can was a little damp, and it was giving off a faint odor of, well, gasoline. But then, as the day got hotter and the fumes expanded, the pressure caused a tiny geyser of fuel to spray out. So I drained the can to check out the leaks, thinking the plastic had just deteriorated. But upon closer inspection, I discovered a tiny hole that looked like it was drilled into the plastic, just barely piercing the wall of the can.
What attacked my gas cans? After a few quick minutes of research, Google gave me my answer: the Camphor Shoot Borer, an invasive, Asian beetle that's attracted to ethanol, normally produced by bacteria in dying or weakened plants. Pesky little bugger.
Since gasoline often contains up to 10 percent ethanol, these critters mistakenly target plastic gas cans. While I didn't find any of the beetles, the holes in my gas can matched up perfectly with the photos I found.
I knew if I wanted to avoid further damage in the future, I probably had to use ethanol-free gasoline. The problem? That isn't always so easy to find, depending on where you live. So in lieu of ethanol-free gas, I needed a better gas can, period.
Many modern spill-proof cans incorporate a device in the spout that requires it to be depressed in order to allow gas to flow out of it. Since gas cans also lack vents, air goes in through the same spout that gas comes out. This makes for very slow refueling, and if the gas can is full—and turned half upside down to get the short spout into the tank—it’s nearly impossible to keep the spout depressed and fuel flowing. Of course, that doesn’t stop the spout from seeping and covering your hand with fuel, if it has a little tension on it.
So every time I buy a new gas can, I also purchase an E-Z Pour* gas spout kit. It includes a flexible spout with a screw-on cap, a press-in vent, and two threaded collars that fit most common gas cans. It gives me peace of mind and protects my cans from pests.
The process is simple:
Step 1: With a new or empty gas can, drill a ½-inch hole at the top, near the handle and opposite the spout. Make sure the hole is clean and remove any burrs.
Step 2: Press in the plastic vent.
Step 3: If there's a plastic strainer in the neck of the gas can, remove it. These impede the flow of gas into the can. The last one I tried to use caused so much back pressure that the fuel pump would shut off.
Step 4: Test the threaded collar to figure out which one fits your gas can.
Step 5: Install the spout by screwing the collar down over it.
Step 6: Screw the cap on the end. If provided, install the retaining strap for the cap.
EZ-POUR Gas Can Spout
Note: There are two basic versions of the E-Z Pour kit. One comes with a black, high-flow spout that will work with fuel tanks on mowers, tractors, and other power equipment, while the other comes with a white spout that will fit unleaded fuel filler necks on cars and trucks.
*These types of gas spouts are not allowed in California, Washington D.C., Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Virginia.
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