Propane tank disposal

Propane is a highly flammable gas so the propane industry is strictly regulated at federal and state level. Also, propane tanks are relatively large (120-1,000 gallons, generally). This makes propane tank disposal considerably more complicated than having garbage collected.

Propane tank disposal: summary

Your situation

Contact

Process

Costs

Alternative

Your tank is rented as part of a propane contract.

Your propane company.

  1. Excess propane to be pumped out of the tank.
  2. Propane tank to be disconnected from propane system.
  3. Propane tank to be physically removed from property.
  1. Drainage fee.*
  2. Pick up fee.

None.

Your tank is rented and you have been a client for over a year.

Your propane company.

  1. Drainage fee.*
  2. Pick up fee.
  3. Propane company may reimburse excess propane at wholesale or initial purchase price.

You own your tank outright.

A licensed propane company to avoid safety risks.

  1. Drainage fee.*
  2. Pick up fee.
  3. Propane company may accept to purchase excess propane.

Keep your propane tank and camouflage it to make it less visible.

*Drainage fee usually applies if the level of propane in the tank is above 5%.

Propane tank disposal: process

If you decide to dispose of your propane tank yourself you will expose yourself to fire, injury or death, and most scrap yards will not accept propane tanks because of the associated risks. Therefore, should you decide to dispose of your propane tank, you should contact a licensed propane company to do it for you.

The propane dealer you have selected will empty it of any remaining propane (propane tanks cannot be transported it the propane level is above 5%), disconnect it (and unearth it if it is underground) and take it away according to regulatory requirements to ensure the highest level of safety.

Propane tank disposal: costs

Typically, propane companies charge an administrative fee for having the excess fuel removed and for picking up the tank. If you rent a propane tank you have no option but to use your propane company for propane tank disposal. However, if you own your propane tank you are free to contact various propane companies to find out what the best deal is for you.

If there is a lot of propane left and you have been a customer for over a year your propane company may reimburse you for the unused propane at the wholesale or purchase price (whichever is cheaper). You should note that the price paid for excess propane is far lower than the retail price given that in November 2012 wholesale propane traded at $0.923/gal and retail propane was sold for an average of $2.409/gal across the country.

Avoiding propane tank disposal

Interestingly, among the National Fire Protection Association’s recommendations is not having your tank removed. Instead, you could fill it with sand and hide it: if it is underground, a popular solution is to plant shrubs over the part of the tank that is visible; if it is aboveground, many decide to camouflage their tank by painting it a combination of heat-reflective colors (dark, heat-absorbing colors are forbidden) or covering it with a specially-designed propane tank cover.