Tank installation safety facts
Propane tanks do not explode, implode or rupture. In fact, propane tanks manufacturers test tank types to ensure they are highly resistant to impacts of any kind and extreme weather conditions. Having said this, propane remains a highly-flammable gas and precautions are recommended. All tank installation safety recommendations rely on respecting regulations and advice.
Relying on propane professionals to ensure your tank installation safety
Therefore, it is recommended that you compare quotes from different propane companies before choosing a propane retailer, including emergency response availability and safety record: you want to be able to call a reliable customer service should you have any doubt whatsoever on the safety of your propane tank installation.
Regulatory precautions to increase tank installation safety
Propane tank installation safety is at the centre of the permit you need for your propane tank when organizing the installation of your propane system. Propane tank permits, which require you – or, more often, your propane company – to submit an application with a drawing of your propane setup (and pay a small fee – between $25-50), enable local authorities to map the location of hazardous materials and plan emergency responses accordingly.
Similarly, tank distance rules (usually around 10 feet from the nearest structures but rules vary according to size and whether the tank is above- or underground) minimize damage risks of ignition if there is a propane leak. The point of propane tank distance requirements, for example, is to prevent an intentional or accidental fire to ignite propane that might leak from the tank in small quantities (again, this is very rare).
Tank installation safety and propane fittings
Propane tank fittings are a crucial element of propane tank installation safety. Indeed, the relief or safety valve allows for excess propane be released from the propane tank as propane gas expands. This prevents what is known as boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. In other words, if tanks did not have a relief valve, there would be a risk that should the gas inside the tank expand (for example, with rising temperatures), the tank might explode.
This also means that it is crucial to have every component of your tank installation (valves, regulators, piping, etc.) installed properly (according to manufacturer recommendations) and checked regularly: it is advisable to have your entire propane installation checked once a year. Faulty installations may lead to propane leaks, which pose a safety threat. Indeed, if close to a source of ignition, a propane leak can cause a fire. And because propane is heavier than air, leaks can displace air and lead to carbon monoxide intoxication. However, rest assured: propane, in and of itself, is not toxic.
Protecting propane tanks from tampering and traffic
Also crucial is protecting your tank from tampering and vehicular traffic. Such protection aims to prevent potential leaks. Tampering with a propane tank can lead to the service line (that connects the tank to the home propane system) being jarred and leaks forming at piping connections. Similarly, although if bumped into with a car a propane tank will not be damaged, fittings may come loose, increasing the chances of a leak. This is why, in both cases, it is important to protect your propane tank (for example, by fencing it in or ensuring it is protected from traffic if located next to a driveway).