While propane is generally considered to be a safe and reliable fuel source, requiring little in the way of maintenance other than the periodic refills, it’s still important to have a good understanding of the warning signs that can help detect a leak to significantly reduce any risk. Propane is pressurized into a liquid so that it can be stored and transported. If there is even a small discharge, that creates a serious potential hazard of ignition.
While propane is a cost-effective, widely-used option for heating and many other purposes, there is a potential for harm. It is rare, with some of the latest statistics revealing that of all residential fires, propane as the first ignited material has accounted for less than one percent. Still, if there is a problem and you notice any of the following, you’ll want to contact the supplier that provides your propane tank delivery right away.
While a small amount of rust isn’t a problem, if there is a lot of rust or other signs of corrosion indicating that the tank is old and has been exposed to the elements for quite some time, it’s likely that the walls have been weakened which means there is a higher risk for holes to develop. While a bit of rust in a few places probably isn’t cause for alarm, if there are large, deep patches or if the tank is dented in the area, it may need to be replaced. Eventually, the rust can work its way through to the tank’s interior.
If there is a foul odor, something that smells like a decaying animal or rotten eggs near the tank or any appliances run by propane, there is a leak. In that case, you should leave, taking all family members and pets with you. Then immediately call your propane company. If you cannot reach them, call 911 and don’t return home until you’re told it is safe to do so. There might be an issue with the valve or a hole in the system. While it’s rare, it can happen.
Your Furnace Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit
If the pilot light in your furnace keeps going out, there is likely a problem with the tank, so you’ll need to contact your propane supplier. If there is a leak, the tank has an automatic safety feature that cuts off the supply of gas. It’s also possible that there is a blockage or another problem with the gas line.
The Flame Isn’t Blue
Any device using propane should have a blue flame. If it’s orange, yellow, or any other color it means something is wrong – there could be a blockage in the system, a leak, or an insufficient supply.
If the tank has been damaged, such as large dings or deep dents, it increases the pressure inside, weakening the structural integrity. Scratches can have tiny holes that aren’t visible but allow gas to escape. The tank should be replaced or repaired before use.
Quicker Than Normal Usage
You probably have a good idea as to how long it takes to use up the gas in your propane tank. If you notice that it’s running low sooner than it usually does or you’ve barely been using it but it’s close to empty, there is a leak. Even if it’s barely noticeable, it’s a safety hazard that needs to be corrected.