View Full Version : Fuel spill on asphalt drive -- how to clean up

07-07-2005, 10:39 PM
I spilled mixed fuel on a small area of my customer's aspalt driveway, and I need suggestions on how to cover, cleanup, or ??? The homeowner is a very good customer, and they are upset about seeing the discolored asphalt.

To explain... I did a stupid thing a week ago when I spilled mixed fuel after refueling my Stihl FS85 string trimmer. I put the power head on the frame of the trailer, filled the tank, and then got distracted while putting the can away. I failed to put the cap on the tank. After the distraction passed, I picked up the trimmer, and started walking away. The fuel spilled from the tank, leaving an area about 5 feet long, 4-12 inches wide. The trailer was parked at the curb, so the spill starts at the curb and then runs onto the "outbound" end of their circular driveway.

I feared the customer would be upset and when I returned today, my expectations were confirmed. The woman caught me early and wanted to know if I was responsible. I admited the problem and she said she tried to "take it up" by sprinkling something on it (kitty litter?). She wanted to know what caused the discolored pavement, and what could be done to get rid of the spot. I had no answer to her question.

This issue will not go away, until it is resolved. The house is in an up-scale neighborhood ($600-$700K?), and very well managed. They just invested large money into new landscaping. The asphalt is about five or six years old, and never been sealed. Most houses in this neighborhood are concrete but a couple of them have alsphalt driveways and circular drives.

Any suggestions? My worst fear is I will have to pay large $$$ to have sealer put down to cover the spot, plus the other several thousand square feet of driveway. Of course the spot is only a couple of square feet, but it is obvious.

Any help?

07-07-2005, 10:54 PM
I had a similar spill on a driveway last year.I put Speedy Dry Absorbent on it right away and to this day you can still see where the spill happend.Kitty Litter pretty much works the same.Its already well soaked in by now so i dont know what you can really do.

I would think with time it will go away if it wasnt much of a spill.Look at intersections where car accidents have happend the spill marks go away eventually.If shes not willing to wait i dont know what you can do im sure someone else will have some tips.

Check home depot or lowes im pretty sure they carry driveway cleaner solutions thats are supposed to get up grease and stuff before you reseal a drivway..That might work.

grass disaster
07-07-2005, 11:08 PM
you could always mix some gas and put it in a spryer and spray the whole driveway.

i don't think the spot will ever go away. probably the best thing you could do is get some floor dry and put it on there. leave it on there for a few days. it will blend in quite a bit.

when it comes down to it, just ask her what she wants you to do with it. i'm sure she will understand.

take a look at my signature haha

07-07-2005, 11:26 PM
I would talk them in to the benefits of sealing their driveway to protect it. If they do this, the sealer will subsequently cover up the spots. Do NOT mention anything about gas burning and eating asphalt...which it does.

07-07-2005, 11:39 PM
I have a different problem with treflan stains. In one of my postings, someone said that they had an oil stain on their driveway. They used carburetor cleaner, and it took it right up. Parts cleaner might do the same. I'm not an expert and I have never tried it, but, that stuff is used to degrease stuff. It might work. I'd try a little spot first. Also, a powerwasher might just do the trick as well.

07-08-2005, 12:04 AM
scrub it well with dawn dish soap and water, or an industrial strength degreaser. That should get it out pretty well. Good luck.

07-08-2005, 12:07 AM
don't you hate that?

07-08-2005, 12:11 AM
I know this is after the fact but I keep a jug of water with me at all times.If I make that mistake I water the heck out of the spot to delute the gas.Not that I do that alot but it has saved me in the past.Oh ,the water is for my radiator.

07-08-2005, 01:48 AM
get on the phone and find someone that sealcoats in the area. get a measurement for the drive, general location, and call and get some phone quotes. Like 7 of them.

Do some research on the companies, and go check out their rigs. Get someone you would be proud to represent you. Do some research on the internet about what sealcoating is. Brochures would be good.

Then go back to the customer, apologize, and offer a solution. XYZ company will sealcoat your drive for x dollars. I got these 6 other quotes.
Tell them you will give 100 bucks or whatever towards the sealcoating, or mow their yard for Y weeks.

Most of my customers would realize that you screwed up, and were trying HARD to find a solution. Sealcoating is really not that expensive, and actually is a very good thing anyway.
With this approach, most of my customers would probably say "mow my yard for a week/month, don't let it happen again, and thank you for trying ot make it right.

07-08-2005, 02:03 AM
It works pretty good on stuff like that. I know this is after the fact but I put down a scrap piece of 45 mil rubber pond liner...about a 3'x3' piece where I can pour fuel or herbicides or fertilizers and not have to worry about any accidents. plus I go to costco and buy the bundles of shop towels and carry em in the truck...just for situations like yours.

07-08-2005, 02:06 AM
scrub it well with dawn dish soap and water, or an industrial strength degreaser. That should get it out pretty well. Good luck.

Hands and knees with a bucket and soap does work, but I know from my dad's driveway where my car sat years ago, what leaked out showed for many years.

07-08-2005, 02:24 AM
Do not use engine degreaser or carb cleaner it will eat the asphalt right up!You could try OXI- CLEAN.But I think by trying to fix it you will just make it worse.Nothing will take oil out of asphalt.All you can do is try and do as suggested above and make it all look the same.Try spraying the whole drive with a asphalt sealer

07-08-2005, 04:37 AM
I use Dawn to get oil spots out of my garage. It works pretty well. It doesn't hurt to try!

07-08-2005, 06:49 AM
I hope the guy who would put gas in a sprayer doesn't smoke!!!! The stain is the oil mix. Try castrol super clean. dilute it 4-1 and rub it on the area. IF necessary use at greater strength. Do a small test area first and don't just spray it on or you could end up with a greater problem. If necessary use a thin coat of sealcoat to blend the stain. Again do a small test spot first. Your customer will see your effort and may be forgiving and not require a whole re-seal . Hell they may even pay you to do the whole driveway!

07-08-2005, 09:21 AM
Odds are you will never get the whole spot removed . DO NOT USE ANY OIL BASED CLEANERS to try and remove it . You may have to bite the bullett and pay to have the drive sealed . Rates range from 7 to 20 cents a sq foot depending on the size of the drive , and the area you live. I have a sealcoat business , the stain will go away after a few years.

07-08-2005, 10:00 AM
I know it's too late now, but look into switching fuel cans here:NO SPILL CANS (http://www.no-spill.com)

07-08-2005, 11:28 AM
Also, one other possibility would be to offer her a price on sealing it, and do it yourself. You can buy the stuff in 5 gal. buckets and brushes at Home Depot. Maybe soeone here can advise you on what kind to get.

07-08-2005, 02:06 PM
scrub it well with dawn dish soap and water, or an industrial strength degreaser. That should get it out pretty well. Good luck.
I agree, dawn and scrub it.

07-08-2005, 02:19 PM
Sorry I don't really have any help, but I have a question for everyone else if you spilled oil on concrete is their any way to get that up. He said that he spilled it on asphault I was just wondering if their was a diffrence.

07-08-2005, 02:35 PM
will the dawn trick work on old stains?

07-08-2005, 09:32 PM
I know it's too late now, but look into switching fuel cans here:NO SPILL CANS (http://www.no-spill.com)

His problem was he left the cap off the weed-eater. I know this all too well, I did it a few times with my backpack blower (but you do notice this as the gas runs down your pants).

This is ONE reason why I always fuel up my equipment the night before AND one tank HAS to last all day. If it doesn't, I'm out of fuel. The wb easily does 10 yards and up to 12 on a tank, the weed-eater goes 8-10 yards without refueling, the blower 2-3 days, sometimes 4. I keep one quart of mix fuel onboard just in case (in a quart container in a white storage box), but NO fuel cans go on the truck or the trailer. It's too dangerous when it's hot and I get tired of the sun boiling my octane - That stuff stays at home in the shade.

07-08-2005, 09:57 PM
Pressure washer.

07-09-2005, 01:06 AM
I remember having to fill the trimmer up after 2 or 3 properties. we do about 13-20 a day.

we have a sweet pressure washer, are you sure it will get up old stains?

07-09-2005, 01:46 AM
We need to see a picture. Is this a new driveway? Could you just get some sealer and paint it on then feather it out to blend it in? Just a thought ...need to see how much difference there is in color and what color were trying to restore. You can't get the gas out so were talking color here are we not?

grass disaster
07-09-2005, 03:13 AM
We need to see a picture. Is this a new driveway? Could you just get some sealer and paint it on then feather it out to blend it in? Just a thought ...need to see how much difference there is in color and what color were trying to restore. You can't get the gas out so were talking color here are we not?

that's why i said put floor dry on it it will blend it in the best.

07-09-2005, 09:26 AM
I think oil dry would have had a better chance if applied immediately but it's still worth a shot. That is what they do at race tracks. Those are the guys that would have the answer the track crew at a track. They have to deal with this issue all the time. I'm just not sure it will help so many days after like this. It sure wouldn't hurt to try it.

07-09-2005, 07:48 PM
Thanks for all the replies ...

I chose to try the oil dry approach first. This afternoon, I went to CarQuest and got a 40# bag, then went to the customer's house. The husband was home (away for 10 days fishing) and washing his Denali with a pressure washer. I approached, but he did not acknowledge me right away, then turned off the engine, but kept washing. After a brief small talk, "... what can I do for you?" I could tell his tone was not pleasant, and the fact he kept on with the washing.

I explained my intention with oil dry, and his reply, "What's that?" He said you can try if you want, but it needs Gunk and a pressure wash. I said I thought Gunk was oil based and probably not a good idea, but he poo-pooed it, kept on washing and then refired his pressure washer. Clearly, he was in no mood to even discuss the matter. I was surprised as I thought we had a good relationship. And, it was clear he and his wife had discussed the spill in some detail. He did say, in a very gruff voice, "I wish you would have told us about it right away so we could have done something then." He is right on this point.

I did apply the oil dry, brushed in repeatedly with a push broom. After some time, most of the oil dry was nearly gone (perhaps disintegrated into the porus asphalt?). The discoloration looks some better, but was concerned the visual inspection was deceiving -- the brown oil dry was merely covering the discolored spot. I made another application and brushed again for several minutes, finally brooming the remaining material into a pile, shoveled into a bucket to take away. I did not blow off with my hand blower, thinking I would blow out the fine particles that should remain. They may soak up more fuel, I don't know. The spot is in full sun, and the temps were about 80 -- the asphalt was very warm.

I went to find the owner after finishing to discuss, but he was gone.

My fear is he will get Gunk, put it down, pressure wash, still have the discolored spot and say "now what?" Obviously, I cannot stop him from taking these measures. But, if his treatment makes it worse, then I'm more on the hook than now. Are my fears about Gunk properly founded, or am I wrong?

I'm afraid the issue will not go away, either the discolored spot, or the emotioinal reaction of these very particular homeowners.

I now have a covered bucket in the back of my pickup, half full of oil dry -- ready for the next episode.

07-10-2005, 09:09 AM
[QUOTE=Roger]Thanks for all the replies ...I'm afraid the issue will not go away, either the discolored spot, or the emotioinal reaction of these very particular homeowners.QUOTE]

Are they really "very particular homeowners", or are they rightfully pissed because you screwed up their driveway? Emotional reaction? I'd have one too if I lived there.

Concrete can be cleaned, but asphault is an oil-based product, so no, that blemish will never come out. Take steps to solve this problem that you created - do the sealcoating. I doubt the guy is going to make you pay for the entire cost, but you should step up to the plate here.

07-10-2005, 02:11 PM
I would go out and scrub the area the fuel spilled on..

I NEVER pay for a huge project as a result of a small problem.

We mow a few lawns with steep driveways. The back end of the trailers scrape the asphalt when we are driving out. Have always just filled in the area with cold patch.. Had one customer DEMAND we replace the entire driveway.. Ya right.. $50 in damage and they want a new $10K driveway give me a break..

Had my tree guys out. Took down a 60' maple and dropped one limb on the house (took out the gutter and did no other damage). She wanted a new gutter all the way around the house, new drain pipe, basement waterproofed because it was leaking (5hrs after this incident when it was dry out).. Never the less I paid to have the damaged gutter replaced $255.. No way I was paying for a $6,000 project.. People will hunt on you for money and to fix problems you didn't even cause..

Watch out!

07-10-2005, 07:39 PM
we lost a customer because of the trailer scraping the driveway. i don't blame them, i would have fired us too. if we are that careless with the truck and trailer, imagine the damage we can do with the mowers. we (you can read that as my foreman) really need to be more careful.