Do Propane Tanks Rupture? What You Need to Know

“Will my propane tank burst?” That’s a question many people ask when they’re considering the purchase of a propane system for the first time. Perhaps you’ve heard stories of propane fuel tanks rupturing or seen an online video of a propane-induced fireball. These circumstances may have been enough to make you avoid using anything involving this versatile, clean-burning gas in or around your home. Let’s take a look at the facts.

Dispelling the Myth

While it’s true that propane gas is flammable and in some cases combustible, propane tank ruptures are extremely rare. It typically requires the right combination of conditions and human error to pose a danger. By taking the appropriate precautions and following safe handling practices, you can eliminate any risks or concerns involved with propane — and experience the many benefits of using it in your home.

How Do Propane Tanks Compare to Other Options?

Although propane and natural gas are both flammable fossil fuels, propane tanks are typically safer than natural gas lines. Because propane is delivered in a compressed liquid form rather than a gaseous one, propane tanks typically come with lower risk compared to other fuel containment options.

What Are the Chances of a Tank Rupturing?

In those unusual situations where propane tanks rupture, it usually happens for one of two reasons:

  • Leaks: Propane tanks must comply with high safety standards — they’re structurally sound and won’t rupture or leak under normal conditions. However, if you don’t close the valve properly after using the tank, vapor can leak out and potentially ignite.
  • Increase in pressure: Propane tanks can burst due to an increase in pressure that can occur due to exposure to extreme heat. The pressure rises to the point that the tank can no longer vent it safely. Keep in mind, the likelihood of this happening is very low since tanks are regulated and maintained regularly.

Regulations That Promote Propane Tank Safety

Federal and state regulations are in place to ensure the safety of propane tanks. These laws focus on the timely testing and replacement of the pressure relief valve, a crucial safety feature that vents gas and releases built-up pressure.

Specifically, the regulations mandate the testing of propane relief valves every five years. Valves that are more than 10 years old require testing or replacing before the next scheduled inspection. A certified pressure relief valve testing contractor such as Foster Fuels can handle the testing and inspection process for you. We can also advise when it’s time for a valve replacement.

Safety Measures to Prevent Propane Tank Issues

Following a few safety tips can ensure the safe use of propane:

  • Adhere to all applicable federal, state and local ordinances and regulations regarding the safe placement of your propane tank.
  • Keep the tank away from extreme heat to ensure the pressure relief valve functions properly.
  • Protect the surface by painting your tank a reflective color and remove soil that can hold moisture and cause rusting.
  • Regularly check for leaks.
  • Check the hoses to make sure they’re connected correctly.
  • Never use or store portable propane tanks in living spaces or basements.
  • Avoid smoking near your propane tanks.

Contact Foster Fuels to Learn More

As a full-service propane company with more than 95 years of experience, Foster Fuels can be trusted for reliable answers to all of your propane and fueling questions. Contact us to learn more today.

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