We can all agree that propane gas is a cheap and efficient way to heat your home, cook, and generate energy. But did you realize that incorrectly handled propane can cost you your home or, worse, your life? To stay safe, follow propane safety best practices and use caution when handling tanks, fuel lines, appliances, and generators. Propane, when utilized correctly, is a highly versatile and safe fuel.
How to Use Propane Safely
Follow these propane safety rules to help protect you and your family and to avoid accidents or crises.
Maintain A Safe Distance
If you’re using propane to power barbecues, heaters, or fire pits, keep the propane cylinder at least three feet away from the building’s opening and ten feet away from a mechanical air intake. This prevents propane vapor from entering the building as a result of a leaking valve or relief valve release. Furthermore, it is vital to keep propane-powered equipment away from combustible objects such as fences, woodpiles, and vinyl siding. Never change propane cylinders within ten feet of an ignition source, and always keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
Monitor The Propane Levels In Your Tank
Tanks are topped off to a maximum of 80% to allow for gas expansion. A strong aroma may be detected when the tank level is extremely low, which may be misunderstood as a leak. However, what you are noticing is the odorant added to propane as a safety measure to give it the rotten egg smell that draws your attention.
When there is little to no propane left in the tank, the odorant settles to the bottom, leaving you with a larger quantity in ratio to the propane. Avoid false alarms by keeping some propane in your tank at all times. An empty tank may also cause rust to form, which is harmful because rust masks the scent of propane, making it impossible to detect a suspected leak.
Utilize Safe Storage Techniques
When storing used propane cylinders, extra caution must be exercised. This is true whether the tank or cylinder is full, partially full, or empty. Because, unless the vapor is completely cleansed with air or nitrogen, propane cylinders will retain residue from previous contents, providing a fire hazard. Propane tanks and cylinders should never be placed indoors, which includes garages, storage buildings, marinas, and boats, among other places. Outside, store these with caution, or have the cylinders or tanks properly purged before storage.
Adhere to the Manufacturer’s Instructions
Propane and oil gas appliances must be installed in compliance with CSA B149.1-15 Natural Gas and Propane Installation Code. For example, portable propane gas equipment like grills have recommended distances between them and combustible surfaces.
Keep Your Tanks In Good Condition
Every ten years, all propane cylinders must be recertified. Otherwise, they cannot be refilled. Examine the cylinder’s date and condition. Before filling, get it inspected by your propane gas provider to see if it is dented or rusty. When transferring your propane cylinder, always keep it secure, upright, and in a well-ventilated area. Keep in mind that propane has a stench akin to rotten eggs. Turn off the gas cylinder and service the grill or portable equipment before reusing it if you suspect a propane leak. If the leak persists, contact the fire department.
Proper use and handling are critical for the safety of all fuels. Propane’s qualities, combined with standards governing equipment, training, storage, and handling, make it one of the safest consumer fuels. Simply follow the recommendations on this page to help protect you and your family and reduce accidents or crises.