Large Tank Information
WHAT IS PROPANE?
called LPG—liquefied petroleum gas—or LP gas) is a
widely used fuel. It is transported and stored as a
very cold liquid, and can cause a “freeze burn” or
frostbite if it contacts the skin. The liquid
propane is turned into a gas inside a tank or a
cylinder. In its natural form, propane is colorless
and odorless. To make propane easier to detect in
the event of a leak or spill, manufacturers
deliberately add a chemical compound to give it a
flammable when mixed with air (oxygen) and can be
ignited by many sources, including open flames,
smoking materials, electrical sparks, and static
are heavier than air. For this reason, they may
accumulate in low-lying areas such as basements,
crawl spaces, and ditches, or along floors. However,
air currents can sometimes carry propane vapors
elsewhere within a building.
DOES PROPANE GET TO YOUR HOUSE?
It is important
to become familiar with the parts of your propane
system so that you can take quick and appropriate
action in case of a leak or other emergency. The
illustration at left shows a typical home propane
delivered to your home as a very cold liquid and is
pumped into a specially designed storage tank (A).
The liquid changes to gas before it leaves the tank.
Propane tanks are typically painted white or silver
to reflect heat and prevent the pressure inside the
tank from getting too high.
If you have an
underground tank, only the cover (B) will be visible
The cover on top
of the tank protects several components from weather
and physical damage, including:
tank shut-off valve (C), which you can close to
stop the flow of propane to your home in case of
a leak or other emergency.
regulator (D), which controls the pressure of
the propane gas coming out of the tank.
relief valve (E), which will pop open
automatically if the pressure inside the tank
gets too high. The valve will close again when
the pressure returns to normal.
tank gauge (F), which shows the percentage of
propane in the tank.
from your tank to your home through pipes (G), most
of which run underground.
You may also have
a secondary pressure regulator (H) on an outside
wall of your home to further adjust gas pressure.
A shut-off valve
(I) in each pipe can be closed to stop gas flow to
an individual appliance.
connector (J) is the final segment in the gas piping
system. This specially designed flexible
tube—typically 2 or 3 feet long—carries gas from a
pipe to the back of an appliance (K).
IS FLAMMABLE VAPOR IGNITION?
VAPORS ARE A SERIOUS SAFETY HAZARD!
flammable products—such as gasoline, kerosene,
paint thinner, and solvents —can be ignited
accidentally by the pilot light of a propane
vapors are often heavier than air and may travel
along the ground and collect in low or confined
areas (such as a basement or pit). Sometimes the
vapors may follow air currents in the building
to higher levels. Any source of ignition in
these areas (such as a pilot light, spark,
heater element, or electric motor) could cause
an explosion or a fire.
TO HELP REDUCE
THE RISK OF FLAMMABLE VAPOR IGNITION:
flammable liquids in well-sealed containers
Do not use
gasoline, cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, or
other flammable liquids inside a building where
propane appliances are located.
CAN BE DANGEROUS. Propane vapor is also
combustible and can ignite explosively. Keep propane
storage containers closed. Never store propane
cylinders in an enclosed area, or near a heat or
SHOULD I DO IF I SMELL GAS?
FLAMES OR SPARKS!
Immediately put out all smoking materials and
other open flames. Do not operate lights,
appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames
or sparks from these sources can trigger an
explosion or a fire.
LEAVE THE AREA IMMEDIATELY!
Get everyone out of the building or area where
you suspect gas is leaking.
OFF THE GAS. Turn off
the main gas supply valve on your propane tank
if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn
it to the right (clockwise).
REPORT THE LEAK. From
a neighbor’s home or other nearby building away
from the gas leak, call your propane retailer
right away. If you can’t reach your propane
retailer, call 911 or your local fire
NOT RETURN TO THE BUILDING OR AREA
until your propane retailer, emergency
responder, or qualified service technician
determines that it is safe to do so.
YOUR SYSTEM CHECKED.
Before you attempt to use any of your propane
appliances, your propane retailer or a qualified
service technician must check your entire system
to ensure that it is leak-free.
TO RECOGNIZE THE SMELL OF PROPANE
Propane has a
strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s
spray, or a dead animal. Propane manufacturers add
the smell deliberately to help alert customers to
propane leaks, which can create a safety hazard.
TAKE THE SNIFF
TEST. Teach everyone in your home or building
what propane smells like. You can use the blue
circle on the page opposite of the inside front
cover. Or, ask your propane retailer for a
CAN YOU SMELL
be hard for some people to smell propane for the
have a cold, allergies, sinus congestion, or
another medical condition.
sense of smell is reduced due to use of tobacco,
alcohol, or drugs.
smoke, cooking odors, and other strong odors can
mask the smell of propane.
people age, their sense of smell can become less
smell of propane is present in the air over a
period of time, “odor fatigue” can occur. The
nose “gets tired,” and a person no longer smells
the propane odor.
propane smell may not be strong enough to wake
up someone who is sleeping.
propane smell may be in a location (basement or
attic) where it is not detected by people in
other areas of the building.
phenomenon called “odor loss” can occur—an
unintended reduction in the concentration of the
odor of propane (as explained on page 8).
IS ODOR LOSS?
ODOR LOSS ALSO
CAN DIMINISH PROPANE’S SMELL.
Odor Loss. On
rare occasions, propane can lose its odor. Several
things can cause this including:
or rust in a propane tank or cylinder can reduce
propane odor concentration.
propane is leaking underground, its passage
through soil may reduce the smell of propane.
odor may stick to the inside surfaces of gas
piping and distribution systems and possibly
Since there is
a possibility of odor loss or problems with your
sense of smell, you should respond immediately to
even a faint odor of gas.
IF YOU ARE
CONCERNED that you or others in your home may
have difficulty smelling propane, consider buying
one or more propane gas detectors.
ABOUT PROPANE GAS DETECTORS
INSTALLING GAS DETECTORS.
circumstances, you may not smell a propane leak.
Propane gas detectors are designed to sound an
alarm if they sense the presence of propane.
Their operation does not depend on the
concentration of odorant in the air, just the
propane concentration at the detector.
recommend that you consider installing one or
more propane gas detectors. This is important if
you or others in your home have difficulty
smelling propane, or if appliances are in
little-used areas in your home where the smell
of propane might not be detected. Detectors can
provide an additional measure of security.
DETECTOR QUALITY IS IMPORTANT. Be sure the
units you buy are listed by Underwriters
Laboratories (UL). To be sure propane gas detectors
operate properly, install and maintain them as the
NOSE. Never ignore the smell of propane, even if
no detector is sounding an alarm to signal the
presence of propane. However, if a detector is
sounding an alarm, treat it as an emergency and act
immediately, even if you do not smell the propane.
PROPANE SYSTEM. Even if you install gas
detectors, have a qualified service technician
inspect your propane system and propane appliances
ABOUT CARBON MONOXIDE (CO)
IS CARBON MONOXIDE? Carbon
monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, tasteless,
and toxic gas. Smoking a cigarette; idling a
gasoline engine; and burning fuel oil, wood,
kerosene, natural gas, and propane all produce CO.
High levels of CO can be produced when fuels are
WHERE DO HIGH
LEVELS OF CO COME FROM? High levels of CO can be
generated by appliances that are defective or
improperly installed or maintained. CO can also
enter a home if an appliance venting system or
chimney becomes blocked (for example, by a bird’s
CO CAN BE
DEADLY! High levels of CO can make you dizzy,
give you headaches, or cause flu-like symptoms (see
the list below). In extreme cases, high levels of or
extended exposure to CO can result in brain damage
or death. Young children; the elderly; people with
heart disease; and those under the influence of
alcohol, drugs, or medication are particularly
susceptible to CO poisoning.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include:
• Headache •
Dizziness • Shortness of breath • Nausea
CAN IMPROVE SAFETY. CO detectors are designed to
sound an alarm when they sense excessive levels of
CO in the air. We recommend that you consider
installing a CO detector listed by UL on each level
of your home. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s
instructions regarding installation, location, and
maintenance. These devices can provide an extra
measure of safety.
IF YOU SUSPECT CO IS
PRESENT, ACT IMMEDIATELY!
or a family member shows physical symptoms of CO
poisoning, get everyone out of the building and
call 911 or your local fire department.
is safe to do so, open windows to allow entry of
fresh air, and turn off any appliances you
suspect may be releasing the CO.
one has physical symptoms of CO poisoning, but
you suspect that CO is present, call your
propane retailer or a qualified service
technician to check CO levels and your propane
TO HELP REDUCE
THE RISK OF CO POISONING:
qualified service technician check your propane
appliances and venting systems annually,
preferably before the heating season begins.
UL-listed CO detectors on every level of your
use a gas oven or range-top burners to provide
use portable heaters indoors, unless they are
designed and approved for indoor use.
use a barbecue grill (propane or charcoal)
indoors for cooking or heating.
Regularly check your appliance exhaust vents for
SIGNS OF IMPROPER APPLIANCE
OPERATION THAT CAN GENERATE HIGH CO LEVELS:
especially on appliances and vents
Unfamiliar or burning odor
Increased moisture inside of windows
HAPPENS IF I RUN OUT OF GAS?
RUN OUT OF GAS. serious
safety hazards, including fire or explosion, can
appliance valve or a gas line is left open when
the propane supply runs out, a leak could occur
when the system is recharged with propane.
moisture could get into an empty or depleted
storage tank, which can cause rust build-up
inside the tank. Rust can decrease the
concentration of the odor of propane, making it
harder to smell.
propane tank runs out of gas, any pilot lights
on your appliances will go out. This can be
extremely dangerous if not handled properly.
LEAK CHECK IS REQUIRED.
In many states, a propane retailer or a
qualified service technician must perform a leak
check of your propane system before turning on
UP REGULAR DELIVERY.
Establish a regular delivery schedule with your
propane retailer. Also, periodically check the
fuel gauge on your propane tank. If the fuel
level drops below 20%, call your propane
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY PILOT LIGHT GOES
IT IS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED THAT A QUALIFIED SERVICE
TECHNICIAN LIGHT ANY PILOT LIGHT THAT HAS GONE OUT.
A PILOT LIGHT? Many
propane appliances may have a pilot light—a small,
constantly burning flame inside the appliance.
(Appliances without a pilot light often have
electronic ignition instead.) If your appliance has
a pilot light, it is an important safety feature.
The pilot light ignites the main burner when needed.
WHEN A PILOT
LIGHT GOES OUT. A pilot light that repeatedly
goes out—or is very difficult to light—may be
signaling that there is a problem with the appliance
or with your propane system. If this occurs, do not
try to fix the problem yourself. Contact a qualified
service technician to evaluate the appliance.
Accidents and serious injuries can occur when
customers attempt to fix a pilot light problem on
IF YOU LIGHT A PILOT LIGHT YOURSELF, you are taking
the risk of STARTING A FIRE OR AN EXPLOSION. Many
serious injuries occur when people attempt to light
pilot lights. Proceed with great caution and follow
all of the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings
concerning the appliance.
If the appliance
is in a basement or closed room, thoroughly
ventilate the area before lighting the pilot.
NOT smoke or have any
source of ignition (such as flames or
spark-producing materials) in the area before
lighting the pilot.
alert for the smell of propane. Sniff at floor
level before lighting a pilot.
YOU SMELL GAS, DO NOT LIGHT THE PILOT LIGHT.
NOT allow any extra or
unnecessary people (especially children) to
remain in the room or area of the building where
you are lighting a pilot.
NOT try to light pilot
lights in any area where other odors may make it
difficult for you to detect the smell of a
NOT light the pilot if
a musty or damp smell persists. These conditions
can mask the smell of propane.
NOT apply force or use
tools on the pilot light or its control. This
could cause damage that leads to gas leakage.
Use only your hands to operate knobs, switches,
NOT attempt to let air
out of gas lines by opening a valve or fitting
inside a building or enclosed space. You may
release gas and not be able to smell it.
NOT apply oil to a
sticky knob or button on a gas control valve.
Oil can cause the control valve mechanism to
stick and malfunction.
CAN I MAINTAIN MY APPLIANCES?
MAINTENANCE IS IMPORTANT.
All appliances using propane must be properly
maintained in order to operate safely, properly,
LEAVE IT TO THE EXPERTS.
Only a qualified service technician has the
proper training to install, service, maintain,
and repair your appliances. Make sure you have a
qualified service technician install and service
ANNUAL INSPECTION IS IMPORTANT.
Contact a qualified service technician to
perform an appliance inspection.
SURE YOUR APPLIANCES CAN “BREATHE” PROPERLY.
Regularly check the vents of your appliances to
be sure that flue gases can flow easily to the
outdoors. Insects, birds, and small animals
sometimes build nests in vent pipes. Other
obstructions such as snow or ice may also occur.
If you see evidence of this, call a qualified
service technician. Also, clear the area around
your appliance to be sure plenty of air can
reach the burner for proper combustion.
combustible materials near appliances.
WATCH FOR YELLOW FLAMES OR SOOT BUILD-UP.
When appliances are operating properly, propane
burns with a blue flame. If you see yellow
flames, or notice significant amounts of soot on
any equipment, the gas may not be burning
completely. This can create carbon monoxide, a
colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas. Contact
a qualified service technician if any of the
above conditions occur.
WHAT IS AN APPLIANCE CONNECTOR?
PROPERLY INSTALL AND MAINTAIN CONNECTORS.
The final section of the system that brings gas
to your appliances is the appliance connector
(see illustration on page 24). It is important
that all appliance connectors are properly
inspected, installed, and maintained by a
qualified service technician.
HOW CAN I MAINTAIN MY APPLIANCE
CONNECTORS CHECKED WHEN MOVING OR REPLACING
can wear out from too much moving, bending, or
corrosion. Connectors should be checked by a
qualified service technician whenever the
appliance is replaced or moved from its
ONLY APPROVED APPLIANCE CONNECTORS.
Make sure that all connectors and gas
piping/tubing that bring propane to your
appliances are installed by a qualified service
technician and approved by the American National
Standards Institute (ANSI).
OLDER APPLIANCE CONNECTORS INSPECTED.
Over time, some types of appliance connectors
can crack or break, resulting in a serious gas
leak and the possibility of fire or explosion.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
has warned that certain types of older
connectors are extremely dangerous. If you have
an appliance that is more than 20 years old,
have a qualified service technician inspect the
connectors to be sure they are safe and meet
current safety-code requirements.
NOT MOVE AN APPLIANCE YOURSELF
to check the connector; this might damage the
connector and create a leak.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I MOVE OR GET A NEW
TREAT CONNECTORS WITH CARE.
When an appliance is moved, be careful not to
damage the appliance connector (the flexible
tubing that brings gas to the unit). Older
connectors can crack if flexed or twisted, which
can lead to a gas leak.
THE APPLIANCE DESIGNED TO USE PROPANE?
Be sure that any new or used appliance being
installed is designed for use with propane.
Natural gas appliances SHOULD NOT be used
with propane unless a qualified service
technician has made required adjustments to the
THE APPLIANCE CHECKED OUT BEFORE YOU USE IT.
Be sure that the appliance is properly installed
and that all controls and valves operate
correctly. Contact a qualified service
technician for assistance.
OR PLUG UNATTACHED GAS LINES.
If you move a gas appliance and disconnect it
from a gas line, be sure to contact your propane
retailer or a qualified service technician to
close, cap, or plug the open gas line. Any
connectors or gas line not connected to an
appliance can leak gas, or can be damaged if
water accumulates inside it. The valve on any
unattached gas line must be closed, and the open
end must be sealed by installing a threaded cap
HOW CAN I KEEP MY HOME SAFE WHEN I AM
AWAY FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD?
YOUR HOME SAFE WHEN YOU’RE AWAY.
If you’re leaving your home for an extended period,
consider closing all propane supply valves. This
includes the main gas supply valve on the propane
tank as well as gas supply valves located near
RETURN to your home after an extended absence,
contact your propane retailer or a qualified service
technician to conduct a leak check before the
propane is turned on and to re-light the pilot
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE A PROBLEM
WITH MY PROPANE APPLIANCES OR EQUIPMENT?
NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES
try to modify or repair valves, regulators,
connectors, controls, or other appliance and
cylinder/tank parts. Doing so creates the risk
of a gas leak.
AN EXPERT. If you are
unable to operate any part of your propane
system, or if you think an appliance or other
device is not operating properly, call your
propane retailer or a qualified service
technician. They can inspect, adjust, repair, or
replace any part of your propane system.
PROPANE SYSTEM IS DESIGNED FOR SAFETY.
Propane cylinders, tanks, and appliances
incorporate special components (such as valves,
connectors, controls, burners, and pilot lights)
to keep them safe for use. Damaging these
components can cause gas leaks.
HOW CAN I USE A SPACE HEATER SAFELY?
THE RIGHT KIND OF HEATER.
Some propane space heaters are designed only for
use outdoors. Others are designed only for use
indoors. Check your owner’s manual or contact a
qualified service technician to be sure you are
using the right kind of heater.
NOT USE AN OUTDOOR HEATER INDOORS.
High levels of CO can be generated from heaters
that are not designed for indoor use. High
levels of CO can make you dizzy, give you
headaches, or cause flu-like symptoms. In
extreme cases, extended exposure to CO can
result in brain damage or death.
YOUR SPACE HEATER MANUAL.
The appliance manufacturer’s manual that came
with your space heater tells how to set up and
operate it safely. Read the entire manual and
carefully follow all directions.
Industry Efforts to Safeguard Propane Use:
GAS Check® is an
inspection program developed by the National Propane
Gas Association (NPGA) and the Propane Education &
Research Council (PERC), and funded by PERC that
provides guidelines to technicians on how to perform
two different types of residential safety
A “Gas System
Check” which must be completed on the gas
delivery system, including the containers,
regulators, and appurtenances; and
A “Gas Appliance
System Check” which includes all of the items of
a “Gas Systems Check” as well as on all
propane-burning appliances. GAS Check® also
educates homeowners on the safe use of propane
and the maintenance of propane appliances.