Barbecue aficionados know the value of keeping an extra propane tank on hand. After all, each spare reduces the chance of having no fuel for your gas grill just as company comes over to experience your latest barbecue ribs recipe. While storing a spare tank of propane may not seem like much of an issue, choosing an adequate storage location is important to ensure both safety and the longevity of the tanks.
General Propane Tank Storage
Store a propane tank, no matter how large or small, outdoors in a well-ventilated area. Never store a tank in a basement, in your home or in an attached garage. Keeping a tank indoors can raise the temperature inside the tank, which can be a fire hazard. Propane tanks should be kept at temperatures lower than 120 degrees Fahrenheit for safe storage.
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Store propane tanks upright, never on its side or upside down, on a solid, dry surface such as several cinder blocks or a slab of wood. A shady area is best to keep the tank as cool as possible. While it's okay for tanks to get wet, keeping them up off the ground helps prevent rust that may come from ground moisture if they're outdoors for a long time in a humid, rainy area. Check the valve on each tank and close it to help prevent leaking gas.
You can also store a propane tank in a detached shed or garage if it's well-ventilated. Keep it away from anything that's flammable or combustible as well as electric tools. Place it on the floor so it doesn't fall or get knocked over. A completely empty tank is safe to store in an indoor area at a moderate temperature. Don't store any tank in an attic or area that may get excessively hot.
Winter Propane Tank Storage
Freezing temperatures are not an issue for propane tanks, unless you experience temperatures at -44 degrees Fahrenheit or lower in your area. It's completely safe to store them outside even in winter. Keep the tanks far away from the house and neighboring homes, ideally in an area protected from the weather. A loose plastic tarp covering helps keep snow and ice off the tanks, while wood pallets or cinder blocks keep the tanks raised off the ground and out of snow banks.
Propane Tank Safety Concerns
Take older propane tanks to a professional for checkups. Propane retailers have equipment to test for leaks. Transport the tank in an upright position in a well-ventilated space, such as a truck bed. If a propane tank shows signs of rust or peeling paint, replace it. If you aren't sure, ask an expert at your local propane-refilling station.
Don't store propane tanks near open basement windows or other areas where leaking gas may build up. Propane gas is heavier than air, so a tank that leaks near a basement window or inside a garage can pose a serious danger.
If you smell a propane odor when the tank is not in use, it may have a leaking valve or other problem. Take the tank to an authorized propane refilling center and ask to have the tank tested. If the tank does have a leak, do not refill it. Ask the retailer where to take the tank to discard it properly.