Propane is a very useful gas. We use it for many things, like home barbecues for instance. The overall make-up of a propane tank is tough and to contain a potentially dangerous gas – it has to be.
Not only does it have to deal with pressure, but it has to be tough enough to not crumble against adverse weather conditions, accidental dropping, and general wear and tear.
With the outer shell being so tough, the lifespan of the tank itself is quite long – but this does not mean that the gas inside will have the same shelf life.
So, how long can you expect a propane tank to survive? How are you meant to know if a tank has expired anyway?
We’re going to answer these questions and more.
How Long Should I Expect My Propane Tank To Last?
This will first depend on where you bought your propane tank from. In the United States, the general shelf life for a propane tank is twelve years from the day it was manufactured. However, in Canada – this is shortened to a decade.
There will of course be exceptions to this. Recertifications of propane tanks for example reduce a propane tank’s shelf life to between five and ten years, but it largely depends on how it was re-certified.
As a general rule, you won’t be able to get your tank refilled if it was certified more than twelve years prior.
It’s best to check on the tank to see its proposed expiration date, but it will never be exact due to so many variables. In theory, propane gas does not expire but the method of storage (in this case, propane tanks) must be checked or replaced for safety reasons.
How Am I Meant To Know If My Propane Tank Expires?
Without hooking up your propane tank for use, it will be impossible to know if your propane tank has ceased to function. However, you can do a few things which will help you to make an educated guess.
First, you should check the bottle. Look out for an expiration date and the date of manufacture, if this date has passed by ten to twelve years, the chances are that you will need to replace your propane tank.
However, some written information on the tank, depending on where the tank came from, will allow you to check the estimated weight of the tank when it is empty. If you have a way to weigh your propane tank, you may be able to see if your tank is close to the “empty weight” the manufacturer has supplied.
It’s important though that if you notice your propane tank appears damaged, very worn or just looks dangerous – you should take it to your gas supplier to be disposed of safely and allow you to get a replacement tank.
What Do All The Letters Mean On The Tank?
Propane tanks will have plenty of different codes or acronyms. As there are so many, it can be slightly confusing to what exactly you’re reading. These are often referring to the following:
- TW = Weight of the tank when it is empty
- WC = Water capacity. This is to understand the capacity when you refill the tank
- A/B/C/D = Manufacturing date took place in the first quarter (January to March)
Where Can I Dispose Of My Propane Tank?
If your propane tank has either been damaged, depleted or you do not want it anymore, you need to ensure you’re disposing of it correctly.
Generally, you can speak to someone from the location that you bought the propane from in the first place. However, if this is not possible – you can get into contact with a professional gas technician. Try to locate one in your area using a search engine or other reliable source.
You should be speaking with a service technician throughout the years that you have the propane tank regardless, in order to ensure your propane tank remains safe and has a long life.
What Can Happen If I Don’t Change My Propane Tank?
If you do not dispose of, or get your propane tank re-certified after the expiration date of the tank – you could be “playing with fire” as it were.
It is often very difficult to notice cracks and small imperfections in the tank, but this can be problematic when it comes to the durability of your propane tank. This can lead to leaks from the tank and this is a fire hazard, a potential explosion hazard and general health hazard.
Being exposed to propane can be deadly. Overexposure can lead to a restriction of oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia due to inhalation of propane. Among many other safety reasons, this is why it is vital to deal with your propane tank outdoors.
In fact, to try to protect many customers from the dangers of propane exposure – manufacturers will add Mercaptan to their propane. This is a chemical that can be smelled and make the presence of a leak more obvious to the user.
This is because propane is naturally odorless and therefore would be near impossible to know of a leak. Odorless gases are among the most dangerous such as carbon monoxide, as they can kill you without you being aware of their presence.
What To Remember
As a general rule, a propane tank can last around a decade – but you should always be aware of the condition of the tank over the years.
It’s a good idea to ask the supplier for emergency contact information and fully understand how propane tanks work, along with what to do in the event of a problem arising.
You must always dispose of or replace an old propane tank in the right way to avoid contamination and dangerous situations.