Friday, February 14, 2014

LP PROPANE TANKS Did you know they do expire?



 


Don’t show up trying to refill a half empty propane tank that has expired.  Especially don't get caught up in this when on the road or filling fuel for an outing.  When tanks are close to expiring I make sure I completely use up all the fuel first.  Then simply take it in for an exchange on a full one.  Most exchanges on a small 5 gal or 20lb BBQ size tank, one that is also full, costs right around $20.  Nearly what it costs to refill a complete empty.  So don’t take a half full one in to have it topped off, when your tank is at the end of its life. Then get caught up in an exchange and loose what was left in your out dated tank.




Propane tanks do expire.  Federal law requires re-certification after 12 years from the original manufacture date.  A coded date is stamped into the carrying handle of the tank.  The tank expires at the end of the month of the date stamped.  They will refuse to re-fill an expired tank.  The first 2 digits represent the month.  In this example 04 is April.  The last 2 digits represent the year of manufacture.  In this example 2002.  This tank expires the end of April 2014.
  

Tanks can be tested and re-certified and will be good for another 5 years.  The new date will be stamped or etched near the original date.  Quite frankly it is easier to just exchange the BBQ size tank and be done with it.  Rather than taking it somewhere and paying to have the tank re-certified, then having it refilled.  I tag mine with a note once the year of expiration has been reached.  That way I am reminded to completely use it up before I need a refill.  I don't take these on the road or to outings where I might run out and need a refill.  Sometimes exchange locations are nowhere near.  Since any reputable fuel dealer will not fill an expired tank you might get caught up with no propane.

Another helpful stamped number you might find tells you the empty tank weight.  Find the TW followed by some numbers.  Those numbers indicate the empty weight.   In our example this is TW18.  This tank empty is 18lbs.    So since this is a 20lb tank (holds 20lb of propane) the actual full weight should be 38lbs (18+20=38).  You can simply weight your partially filled tank on a scale to get an approximate amount of fuel remaining.  If the actual weight was 28lbs (28-18=10) you actually have 10 lbs of fuel left, or half a tank. 



23 comments:

  1. I found out the hard way when I went to fill one at a Chevron station. The guy there would not fill it. Said it was against the law once outdated and not re-certified (Which gets a new date stamped) He did say many places do fill them, look the other way or don't check. That tends to be my luck but perhaps I have to look at it positively that it may have prevented a leak or fire. My last one that expired I just did an exchange for a already filled tank....basically costs about $10 more than a refill on your own tank. Beats paying $25-$30 for a new tank, then paying to fill it....but that depends on what you are paying for LP. Incidentally the tank I exchanged for was already 2 years beyond new.

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    1. Where can I exchange for a already filled tank?

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    2. In the USA many Gas Stations, Home Depot, etc.

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    3. Walgreens, Walmart, Lowes all have exchange programs.

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    4. Walgreens, Walmart, Lowes all have exchange programs.

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    5. the down fall of exchanging tanks the new one is not full its refilled only about 75 to 80% yet you pay for a full tank

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  2. I don't know on larger tanks. Though I did have a large 500 gal tank for many years. I do think the regulator has to be replaced on an interval...and I am thinking that is 12 years? I leased mine at the time. That saves the expense of purchasing the tank which is probably a couple thousand dollars.....but it ties you to one supplier and their price. We did have the option to prepay early in the year to pre-purchase LP when the prices are theoretically lower...and most times that worked out saving $. I would suggest contacting a local supplier to answer your questions. Also if you lease are you responsible for repairs/replacement on the regulator? We were at the time. Good to know all the details before you make your choice.

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  3. Canadian law is 10 years, not 12 years. 12 years is American (I think), but Canadian is definitely 10 years.

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  4. My neighbor's tank just exploded and their entire house burned up due to an expired tank. Be safe!

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    1. Thank you. You just convinced me not to take the chance.

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  5. I stopped by Home Depot and saw a filled tank with a 1993 date code! No tag showing inspection or updates....Wow.

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    1. It could have been retested and refurbished. In that case there might have been a sticker for when the retest was done. From there it's another 12 years (or 10 for Canada)

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    2. I won't take those that are out of date or have no stamp/sticker re-validating a new future expiration date. Otherwise your are locked in to exchanging that tank since refilling stations will not fill them (If they are checking the dates like the one I go to)

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  6. rv tanks or tanks larger than 10 gallons in the us do not have to be recertified.

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  7. Where did you find the information that it expires at the end of the month versus the beginning of the month?

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  8. I went to u haul on 2/3/17 to refill 2 20lbs tanks both tanks man,, dated 2003 the employee told me theres a new mandated the tank is good for 10 yrs not 12 then a 5 yr reinspect he refused to refill , I took both tanks to v.p and exchanged them funny they had no problems ,, even more funny after getting home I looked at the date on both new/used tanks haha one tank was dated 1996 , even with the inspect code there it was still outdated I took back to the store they refused to exchange it .

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    1. Similar to my experience. I won't take an exchange tank that is outdated. Otherwise you are locked in to the endless cycle of exchanging verses refilling (Which is much more expensive)

      There was a lawsuit because some of the exchange companies were not filling the tanks all the way too. i.e. exchange and actually be shorted on the volume too. Perhaps all of us running into outdated tanks need to start reporting the resalers and the exchange company they are using. I go go an easier route and buy a new tank at Costco or Sams. At under $30, spread over (10 or 12 years)that is minimal compared to exchanging tanks at a higher cost over than many years. I have only gotten burned one time on the road when I couldn't find a refill station and had to exchange, and wasn't aware of this date issue.

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    2. From the Lowes website, Blue Rhino 20 pound propane tank exchanges are priced at $20, this may be adjusted locally, depending on local market. Their advertising at the exchange stations states; 'refilled to 15 pounds'. When asked, Blue Rhinos answer for this 15 pounds in a 20 pound tank is; 'safety factor'. They have no direct control over exact storage conditions, other than originally placing their 'exchange stations.' During various seasons of the year, the exchange station may be subject to long term exposure to direct sun, raising the temperature of the tanks, therefore raising the pressure in them, possibly to an unsafe level if the tanks are completely full, 20 pounds of propane. So, you are notified (if you read the sign) you are buying 15 pounds of propane for $20. Propane weights 4 pounds per gallon, 15 pounds is 3.75 gallons (75% fill). The 20 pound tank is also called a 5 gallon tank. At present (February 20, 2017) my local propane company charges $2.60 per gallon for propane. Filling a completely empty 20 pound (5 gallon) tank cost $13 (I've just had 2 filled). They 'meter' the fill 2 ways, by weight and by gallons. The filling hose has a 'gallons' meter on it. They put the tank on a scale and weight it. Then add propane to the tank until the tanks empty weight (TW number stamped on collar) plus 20 pounds (= 5 gallons) is registered on the scale. The gallons meter is then read, customer name & gallons amount of propane is entered into a computer terminal at the filling station. You retrieve your now full tank (5 full gallons or 20 pounds of propane), go to the cashier and pay. You only pay for what you get. If your tank held 3.75 gallons (the amount in a Blue Rhino tank, you pay $9.10, or less than 1/2 the Blue Rhino price for the same amount of propane AND you keep your new or still within manufacture date tank. Here's another interesting fact; the Blue Rhino tank exchange has a 2.5 (out of 5) star review rating on the Lowes website. Meaning; 1/2 the people that use it are less than satisfied. The people have spoken. Google 'propane company near me', call, ask their price for propane and how their filling process works. Now your informed, your money, your choice.

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  9. Additionally, my local propane company will inspect and recertify your expiring tank at time of filling. If you are a regular customer, there is no charge, generally. If you are a first time or very infrequent customer, they charge $5 - $10 depending on the tank. After the inspection, the collar is stamped with the new expiration date and filled. New tanks are good for 12 years. The expiration date is stamped on the collar of the tank in the format 4 12, for April 2012. My local propane company stamps an X over the expiring numbers, then stamps the new expiration date under those. Recertification is good for 5 years.

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  10. Flyboy...that is very interesting. I knew the exchange is pretty much paying for convenience. I never knew the facts as you explained them....but knew I was getting considerably less than what I thought I was paying for.

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  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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