5 Things to Ask When Buying a Home With Propane Heat

Propane heat is a major selling point if you’re considering purchasing a home. As an affordable, cleaner alternative to oil, it’s the fuel of choice among a growing number of homeowners. It’s also more energy-efficient and eco-friendly than other heating methods. Since most houses run on oil, you should know what to expect if you’re thinking about buying a home that uses propane as its primary power source. In this guide, we’ll discuss five questions to ask before buying a house with propane heat.

1. Which Appliances in the House Use Propane?

Propane is a versatile fuel that can heat the house and power your appliances. Knowing which equipment in the home uses propane can help you determine how much fuel you’ll use each month. Your local propane gas provider would be able to give you information about powering your appliances with gas.

Both the indoor and outdoor equipment in your living space can run on propane, from stoves to generators. Some of the benefits of using propane as a power source include:

  • Efficiency: Propane reaches a higher temperature than gas and heats at a quicker rate than electricity.
  • Eco-friendliness: Unlike fossil fuels, propane doesn’t produce carbon emissions as it burns.
  • Safety: Propane tanks are durable enough to last for decades, even in harsh weather conditions.
  • Affordability: Propane gas is more cost-effective than oil or electricity.
  • Reliability: During a power outage or an interruption in the gas line, propane will continue to fuel your house.

If the homeowners only recently converted the property to propane, not all appliances may be using it. When making an offer, consider if you’ll need to upgrade all the cooking and cleaning equipment in the house to take full advantage of propane. If the whole building runs on propane, think about the monthly costs of using it as a power source.

2. Who Owns the Tank?

Some residents own the propane tank in their house, and others rent from a local fuel company. Both arrangements have their advantages and drawbacks:

  • Owning the tank: If you own your propane tank, you don’t have to set aside money for rental fees each month. You can also decide who supplies the fuel. Purchasing a tank can be a high upfront cost, so you’ll have to factor that into your offer.
  • Renting the tank: The main advantage of renting a propane tank is that you’re not responsible for maintenance. You don’t have to worry about the expenses necessary to repair or replace the unit since the rental company is responsible for the upkeep. You are not liable for any damages to the tank, if they occur. If the current homeowner leases the tank, ask for the name of the supplier, so you can research them before investing in their business.

Most fuel companies will transfer the rental agreement to you, but they might offer you a chance to purchase it. If buying the tank is the option you choose, be sure to get documentation proving your ownership. Shop around for rates of competitors, so you know you’re getting the best deal available.

3. What Is the Size of the Tank?

Residential propane gas containers generally range in size from 120 to 1,000 gallons. Ask the current homeowner or the propane company what the size of the tank is so you’ll know:

  • When you’ll need a refill: With a large tank, you can stretch out the time between deliveries. If you aren’t sure of the capacity of your tank, you could end up calling for a refill more often than necessary, or you could accidentally empty the tank. If you have to request emergency service, you’ll probably have to pay a rush delivery fee.
  • How to accommodate your appliances: You should know the size of the tank, so you can fuel the equipment in your house. If you plan on upgrading the whole property to propane, a large tank can adequately power your property. If you only use propane to power certain appliances, you should invest in a smaller unit.
  • How much power you need for your family: A large unit works if you have multiple people in your household. If you’re downsizing and purchasing a property for you and your spouse, you can install a smaller tank.

We are also happy to help you figure out the best size tank for your needs, so please give us a call or reach out to speak with us! We are happy to help.

4. Where Is the Tank Located?

You should know the location of your tank, so you know where to check the propane level. Propane containers can either be placed above ground or buried below ground. An above-ground unit will have a gauge on the tank or will have a meter around the back of your house. Underground tanks have the meter in the propane tank dome.

Consider the pros and cons of each location for your tanks:

  • Above ground: Most rental companies use above-ground tanks since they are more accessible and have a smoother installation process. If you want to make your above ground tank more visually appealing, you can paint it a light color to reflect sunlight and protect the gas.
  • Underground: Below-ground tanks are safe from vandalism and damage, and they provide more space for you to enjoy your yard. Consider the local regulations for underground propane heat tanks if you ever plan on moving it. Your real estate agent or your local gas company can give you advice for caring for your underground gas container.

Along with knowing whether the tank is underground or above ground, you should know where the gas lines are. If you ever renovate any part of the house or yard, you could accidentally hit a gas line. Having an awareness of where your gas lines are will keep you and your property safe.

5. Is the Propane Tank in Good Condition?

A propane tank can be costly to replace, so you should find out if it’s in good condition before you place an offer on the house. To find out if the propane tank is sturdy, you should ask the following questions:

  • How old is the tank? While tanks are durable, they are vulnerable to corrosion and wear over time. Before investing in a house with propane heat, find out the age of the tank, so you know what repairs or replacements to expect over the years. A professional in the gas industry can inspect your tank to find out how long it’ll last. You could also consider replacing the tank to ensure it’s safe and reliable. Newer models are more energy-efficient, so by upgrading your tank, you could save money in energy costs overall.
  • Do you have the maintenance records available? Propane tanks need service at least once every couple of years for maximum efficiency. The owner should provide paperwork that a professional has recently inspected and cleaned the propane supply container. If they can’t, there might be problems with the tank. Before you place an offer or sign the contract, hire an expert in the fuel industry to inspect the unit if the owner can’t provide paperwork.

Along with the propane tank, you should check the appliances that run on propane gas. Whenever a professional fuel technician services them, they give a record to the homeowner.

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