Propane tanks, known for their cost-effectiveness and versatility, are used in millions of households for heating, cooking, running household appliances, and so much more.
Nevertheless, many are concerned about the propane tank expiration date when it becomes dented or rusted. If not handled properly, there is a high risk of gas leaks. Scroll through to learn more!
When Do Propane Tanks Expire?
Brand design propane tanks for long-term usage, so they can last at least 12 years if you maintain them properly. Its lifespan can be longer when recertified, but you should inspect the tank every 5 to 7 years.
Some factors can contribute to the tank’s longevity, including:
The size of a tank plays a role in determining its lifespan.
For instance, larger tanks (e.g., those used for propane heaters) are usually built with thicker materials, which help them withstand potential tears and wear better for longer periods.
Meanwhile, smaller tanks (such as those designed for propane stoves) do not last as long due to much thinner construction, especially with frequent handling.
Needless to say, whether the tank and propane go bad depends a lot on their specific purposes.
You can expect large tanks for heavy-duty tasks to be more durable, as they are built to meet safety standards. Some companies even refuse to refill those tanks if they are improperly inspected beforehand.
Meanwhile, portable propane cylinders for camping, grilling, or outdoor barbecuing are exposed to numerous environmental factors/extreme weather and must be moved around frequently. Their lifespans, compared to stationary tanks, are relatively shorter.
How to Tell Whether Propane Tanks Expire
Read The Markings
The most common method is to look closely at the tank’s handle or collar area, which can give you useful background info regarding the tank’s remaining life.
Most propane tanks have multiple stamped markings near their handles, which specify the capacity rating and origination. The manufacturing date is often written in the regular Month-Year structure (e.g., 06-19 means June 2019).
Other extra markings include TW (indicating the cylinder’s empty weight to help you figure out the level of propane remaining) and WC (referring to the storage capacity – or the exact amount of propane you can store safely inside the tank).
To sum it up:
|06-19||Manufacturing date (standard Month-Year format)|
|TW||Empty cylinder weight (lbs)|
|WC||Water Storage Capacity (lbs), used when refilling|
Look for The Telltale Signs
After their shelf lives end, most tanks are very vulnerable to leakage, rust, and other dangerous conditions.
Worse, some can not live up to their designated lifespans due to neglect and misuse. So, if you observe any damage or visible rust before the expiry date, stop using the tank and bring it to a certified dealer for inspection.
A gas leak with a rotten egg smell is another indicator. When the tank nears the end of its life, it might fail to hold the propane inside completely. But this is just one possibility, so you’d better inspect the tank closely for other clues.
Tips To Prolong Propane Tanks’ Lifespan
Follow these tips, and you can extend propane tanks’ shelf life:
- Place them in a cool and dry place and steer clear from direct sunlight. In extreme weather conditions, it’s best to store them in a garage or a shed.
- Frequently clean the tank using mild soap and water to prevent rust. If you notice any rust spots, use a rust remover or a brush to get rid of them.
- Regular use can keep the tank from immature problems. When not in use for an extended time, you’d better empty the tank and store it properly.
Are Expired Propane Tanks Dangerous?
Yes. The expiration date is there for a reason! It clearly means you should not use the tank after it expires, or else you will have to face the following hazards:
- Leakage: As rust develops, the tank can no longer stay strong against stress and corrosion. It is much more vulnerable to rupture and leaks now – and imagine what would happen to your household if the highly flammable propane is released into the air. Even just excessively inhaling it is enough to compromise your health.
- Regulatory Compliance: Some states and regions have clear local codes and safety regulations regarding the usage of propane tanks. Therefore, using them after expiration might result in fines and legal issues.
- Inaccurate Gauges: The gauge in an expired tank cannot reflect the current propane level accurately, causing unwanted run-outs when you need them most.
- Compatibility Issues: Very few propane appliances can work safely and properly with rusty tanks, so do not be surprised by the follow-up safety hazards and inefficient operation. Not to mention, you are unlikely to receive proper manufacturer support or warranty coverage when those issues occur.
Can Expired Propane Tanks Be Recertified?
Yes. After getting recertified, the tank will receive a new, updated expiration date, and you can keep using it until then. The cost usually fluctuates between $20 and $30.
To have your current propane tank recertified, follow these simple steps:
- Contact a trusted propane dealer to schedule the appointment.
- Bring the tank to the dealer to have a team of experts inspect it for corrosion and heat damage from harsh weather. If it passes the visual inspection, you will have the tank recertified.
- Pay the recertification fees.
Most of the time, recertified tanks will work for another 5 years – after that, either have it recertified again or entirely replaced (we strongly recommend the latter for safety reasons).
See more: How to Dispose of Propane Tank
Propane tanks can last about 12 years, depending on their purposes, materials, and construction.
You can have them recertified after expiration, but only if these tanks are well-maintained and are not in poor condition. So proper maintenance is a must; handle the rust and leakage immediately, if any!