What You Should Know About Your Propane Tank

a propane tank

Propane is a clean-burning, versatile fuel. But there are some things you should know about your propane tank in order to use it responsibly. The trained staff at Quality Hardware can help.

When Does My Propane Tank Expire?

The manufacture date on a propane tank

Most residential-use propane tanks are good for twelve years from the date of manufacture. That date is stamped on the collar of the tank as two numbers; the month and the year. For example, a tank that was manufactured in October of 2020 has the date shown as 10 20. Sometimes there is a triangular symbol between the numbers. A tank with this date is good until October 2032. At the end of the twelve years from manufacture, the tank needs to be requalified. Most propane distributers have trained staff who can requalify a tank. A requalified tank is stamped with a new date, with an E after the date of requalification, and is good for five years from that date. Often, instead of stamping the requalification date into the collar of the tank, a sticker will be used to show the date of requalification.

requalification date on a propane tank
requalification sticker on a propane tank
requalification sticker on a propane tank

How Should My Propane Tank Be Stored and Transported?

propane tank in a pickup truck

Propane is heavier than air, and will pool in drains, sumps, or other depressions. Therefore it should be stored in a well ventilated area outside the home. It should also be stored upright, and not in direct sunlight. The valve of a propane tank has a pressure-relief valve built into it. This pressure-relief valve prevents the tank from rupturing if the pressure inside the tank gets too high. If the tank is stored on it’s side, the pressure-relief valve won’t work. And if the tank is stored in direct sunlight, the temperature can rise dangerously high, causing a similar danger of tank rupture.

propane tank in an enclosed vehicle

When transporting your propane tank, you must have the tank secured, in an upright position. The pressure-relief valve will only work in an upright position. If you are transporting your tank in an enclosed vehicle, you can transport no more than four tanks, and one window must be open. Or you can secure them in your trunk, with the trunk partially open. And no tank can have more than 45 lbs. of propane in it. If you are using an open vehicle, like a pickup truck, you can transport up to 1000 lbs.

What Is An Over-Fill, And What Can Be Done About It?

the valve of a propane tank

For a propane tank to function properly, there needs to be a gap between the liquid in the tank, and the valve. So tanks are only filled to 80% capacity, to leave this gap. Residential-use tanks have an Overfill Prevention Device in the valve, but they are not foolproof. If the tank is filled past that 80%, you run the risk of liquid propane being expelled from the valve, causing burns or damaging regulators and other equipment. In the worst case, the tank could rupture or explode, from the extreme pressure. To correct this situation, the liquid propane needs to be bled from the tank. Place the tank on level ground in an open area. Make sure there are no possible sources of ignition anywhere in the area. There is a small screw on the bottom of the valve near where the valve attaches to the tank. Turning this screw counter-clockwise opens the bleeder valve. When this is open, a thin stream of propane will spray out of a small hole below the valve. If this stream is visible as a white-ish spray, the tank is over-filled. Leave the bleeder valve open until the white-ish spray becomes clear. You will no longer see the spray, but you will still hear (and smell) it. At that point, the tank is no longer over-filled, and you can close the bleeder valve by turning the screw clockwise.

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