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 grilling just as company comes over to experience your latest barbecue ribs recipe. While spare-tank storage 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 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.
You can store tanks upright on a solid, dry surface such as a slab of wood or several cinder blocks. 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 an area that is humid or experiences rain. Check the valve on each tank and close it to help prevent leaking gas.
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.
Freezing temperatures are not an issue for propane tanks. 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.
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 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.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.