Letter: Propane Tank Safety

tank1Two years ago I purchased a propane tank on an exchange program. In June I had the tank refilled, and at this point I came to realize there were concerns that needed to be addressed.

Concern # 1: After having reconnected the tank back on the BBQ, I tried the BBQ out as it was new. After having fired it up to ensure all was working well I turned the gas off at the burner controls, not the tank valve. Ten minutes later I was smelling gas. I thought the valve may have been compromised by paint on the valve threads, it would appear it got there when the tank had been repainted. NOT SO!  When cleaning the paint off the threads I happened to look into the valve opening and found the rubber, or whatever the material it is that the seat is made of, to be badly cracked. I tried another tank with a good seat and had no gas leak. I had found the source of the leak.

Concern #2: Realizing that the tanks are supposed to be checked and re-certified every 10 years and seeing this tank’s condition I checked for the re-certification stamp. There wasn’t one. This tank had a certification date showing 12 – 79, i.e. December 1979.  It is now 33 and a 1/2 years from its last certification. That means it had been in circulation for 23 and a 1/2 years without having been inspected or certified. How many times has it been refilled?

Concern #3: Tanks, when being refilled are supposed to be checked by the person refilling it. When this tank in question was refilled at a service station rather than using the exchange program. I didn’t see the tank get checked before or during refilling.

tank2All of these discrepancies are potentially putting us at risk. PLEASE CHECK THE CONDITION OF YOUR TANK.

[I] have been in contact with Transport Canada, providing them photographs to show my concerns, and they are following up with the company.  
I returned the faulty tank to the place it was purchased as directed by Transport Canada. I was fortunate to get a full tank in return. Fortunate because the part of the requirement for exchange is that the tank is not to be older than ten years since its last certification.

Further, when the store manager went to get me another tank it was realized there were other tanks missing recertification. The store was going to do a follow-up too with the company supplying the tanks.

Have a safe safe summer

Noel Thomas, Morinville

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  1. As a propane professional with 25 years of experience I have to add a few items to clarify a few things.
    #1. ALWAYS leak check your connections EVERYTIME you reconnect an appliance. If you do not have proper leak check solution a mix of dish soap and water will suffice. Leak check solution can be found at most hardware stores and is inexpensive, always have it on hand.
    #2. Always inspect o-rings and seating faces of your hoses etc. for cracks, missing o-rings, or deep gouges in brass faces. Replace or repair all connections before attaching and firing an appliance.
    #3. The tank in the above picture has been re-qualified at least once in it’s life time as the current valve installed is an OPD (Overfill Prevention Device) Valve. The OPD valve was not manufactured until the late 90’s and wasn’t made law until early 2000. The valves used in 1979 were called a POL valve and had a brass seating facing and no external threads.
    #4. Re-qualification dates are seldom if ever stamped on the “re-test date” stamped area on the cylinder collar. Most likely look at the very edge of collar as there will be a test date stamped in that area.
    #5. If you get a tank filled at a gas station and the attendant did not check for the re-test date, do not report it to transport Canada. Report the problem to either the local Gas Safety branch or contact the Canadian Propane Association for the local authority in your area. I can provide contact details if requested.
    #6. Remember all propane cylinders are only filled to 80% by volume, this is to allow for expansion of the gas within the cylinder. ALWAYS transport propane cylinders in an upright, secured, ventilated space. DO NOT transport propane cylinders on their sides or rolling loose in the trunk or pick up box.

    For current rules and regulations applicable to all propane retailers please contact the Canadian Propane Association.

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