Propane gas is a popular fuel choice for many outdoor grillers. It is also a versitle fuel for many tools and devices such as Mosquito Magnets. Quite often we will have customers come in concerned about the safety of their tanks, transportation, or have other questions about propane fuel. We want to answer these questions and cover some important safety tips when using propane fuel.
What is propane?
Propane (also called LPG—liquefied petroleum gas—or LP gas) is a liquid fuel stored under pressure. Propane is flammable when mixed with air (oxygen) and can be ignited by many sources, including open flames, smoking materials, electrical sparks, and static electricity. Propane is very cold in both liquid and gas state. Infact, severe “freeze burn” or frostbite can result if propane liquid comes in contact with your skin.
Why does propane smell?
Propane smells very similar to rotten eggs or a skunk’s spray. Propane manufacturers intentionally add this smell to help alert customers to the pressence of propane. If you smell propane gas, check for leaks from your tank and equipment.
What To Do If You Smell Gas
- Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames.
- If you are able to, safely turn off the cylinder valve. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).
- Immediately leave the area and call 911 or your local fire department.
- Before you restart the appliance, have a qualified service technician inspect your cylinder and appliance.
Some people may have difficulty smelling
propane due to age, a medical condition, or from the effects of medication, alcohol, tobacco, or drugs. Consider purchasing a propane gas detector as an additional measure of security.
Testing For Leaks
It is important to inspect your cylinder and outdoor gas appliances for leaks. Do this before using them for the first time each season, as well as on a regular basis. This can be accomplished with a simple “bubble” test:
- Apply leak detector solution or thick soapy water to the connections between the cylinder valve and the regulator outlet. Apply it to the valve base as well.
- Slowly open the cylinder valve and watch for bubbles.
- If bubbles appear, close the cylinder valve, tighten the connection, and repeat the process. If bubbles still appear, call your propane retailer immediately.
Transporting Propane Cylinders
- ALWAYS transport and store a cylinder in a secure and upright position so it will not fall, shift, or roll.
- ALWAYS close the cylinder valve and, if required, seal with a plug, even if the cylinder is empty.
- NEVER keep a filled cylinder inside a hot vehicle or transport it inside a closed trunk.
- ALWAYS place the cylinder in a wellventilated area of the vehicle.
- ALWAYS proceed directly to your destination and immediately remove the cylinder from your vehicle.
- The law places limits on the number of cylinders and the amount of propane that can be transported in closed-bodied vehicles such as passenger cars and vans. Check your local regulations to learn more.
Storing Propane Cylinders
- NEVER store or place propane cylinders indoors or in an enclosed area such as basements, garages, sheds, or tents.
- NEVER store or place a propane cylinder in an area of excessive heat (120 degrees or higher) or near a stove, fireplace, or other heat source. The heat builds up pressure inside the cylinder, which may cause the pressure relief valve to release propane into the area. Flash fires or explosions can result from exposing cylinders to heat.
- NEVER store or place a spare cylinder under or near a barbecue grill. Store it away from heat sources.
- DO NOT smoke or have any ignition sources such as flames or spark producing electrical tools in the area while handling or transporting cylinders.
- DO NOT attempt to modify, repair or replace cylinder valves or parts. Propane cylinders use special valves, connectors, and other parts to keep them safe for use with
grills and appliances. Damage to these component can cause a gas leak.
To check your cylinders manufacturing date, look for date markings stamped into the handle - usually on the upper corner.
Refilling Your Proprane Cylinder
It is required by law that all small propane cylinders have an Overflow Prevention Device (OPD) installed. Your tank cannot be filled without one. Most OPD equiped cylinders have a triangular valve handle with the letters "OPD" stamped on it.
An OPD is a safety feature that helps prevent small propane cylinders from being overfilled. An overfilled cylinder doesn’t have enough space left for liquid expansion when exposed to warmer temperatures. This can cause an increase in cylinder pressure and create potentially hazardous conditions.
The date your cylinder was manufactured is important. Propane tanks must be recertified within 12 years of their manufacturing date and with 5 years of its recertification date. Tanks that are out of date cannot be filled. To check your cylinders manufacturing date, look for date markings stamped into the handle - usually on the upper corners.
NEVER dispose of your propane cylinder by throwing it in the trash. Check with your town to see if they have collection programs or requirements for disposal. At Larsen Ace Hardware, we have tank disposal program available for a small fee. Most gas grill tanks are $5.