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How To Tell If Your Propane Tank Has Expired

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Barbecue season is upon us. But before you haul out the burgers, hotdogs and veggies to throw on the grill, don’t forget to check whether your propane tank has expired.

Wait, what?? Propane expires?

No, propane itself has an indefinite shelf life. It doesn’t degrade, and its potency and efficiency aren’t affected by being stored for a long time.

However, the tank the propane is stored in does expire. Let us explain.

The Facts

Propane tanks are incredibly resilient, built to safely contain liquid propane gas stored under pressure while also standing up to extreme weather and elements. But even the sturdiest tank has a shelf life. Therefore, it has to be inspected periodically.

Propane tanks are heavily regulated. And different laws exist for small propane tanks — such as those used for gas grills and portable stoves — and for larger tanks used to heat a home or other building.

An expired propane tank under the grill can cause a range of problems, including gas leaks and fires.

In fact, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), roughly 600 propane tanks cause fires or explode each year. Chips, cracks, loose connections, or other damage to the tank itself or the method of delivering the propane gas can also lead to leaks. After the date of expiration, these problems are more likely to occur. Knowing the facts and what to look for increases your safety.

Common Questions Regarding Barbecue Propane Tanks Expirations

1) How Long Are Small Propane Tanks Good For?

In the United States, a propane tank is qualified for 12 years from the date of manufacture. A recertified tank is usually good for 5 or 7 years, depending on the method and type of recertification.

2) How Do I Tell If My Propane Tank Expired?

There is no expiration date on the tank. However, a propane tank’s date of manufacture or requalification date can be found stamped onto its collar. It will be in a month-year format — for instance, 06-22 for June 2022. Using that information, simply add twelve years to determine when your tank expires.

3) How Do I Know If My Propane Tank Needs To Be Replaced Before It Expires?

Although these tanks are certified for 12 years of use, misuse or neglect can shorten their useful life. If you notice any visible rust or damage to your tank before 12 years is up, stop using it and bring it your propane supplier for inspection.

After the end of its shelf life, the tank is even more vulnerable to rust, leakage, and other potentially dangerous conditions.

Propane is naturally odorless, and propane companies intentionally add the chemical mercaptan to give it a distinctive smell. This helps you notice a leak, thereby minimizing the risk of fires and gas explosions. However, if a propane tank gets rust, water, or air inside, it can cause the gas to lose its odor, increasing your risk of a propane accident.

It’s a good idea to check your tank before each use.

4) What Do I Do If My Propane Tank Is Expired?

Once those 12 years are up, you can either exchange the tank for a replacement, or have it inspected for re-qualification for an additional five years of use.

5) How Do I Know If My Propane Tank Has Been Re-qualified?

Tanks that have been re-qualified it will have an E or H after the date. Don’t confuse the date with the tank weight rating, which is also stamped onto its collar. Tare weighting is always prefaced by the letters TW – TW20 for a 20 lb. tank.

6) How Do I Determine My Propane Tank’s Re-certification Date?

Assuming your expired tank is in tip-top shape, it can be re-certified for continued use after 12 years.

A propane tank’s recertification date is indicated by a letter instead of numbers. The letters A, B, C, and D, correspond to a quarter of the calendar year. The letter “A” would mean the tank had been recertified in January, February, or March, followed by the two numbers of the year. For example, a tank stamped with “A 20” would indicate the first quarter of 2020. Additional letters indicate the type of recertification, which helps determine the frequency of follow up inspections.

Not all places that fill propane tanks will re-certify them, so you will need to call around. To get a tank re-certified it must have the proper valve and no visible damage (rust, dents, etc.) to the tank itself. A re-certified tank is good for 5 years before it needs to be inspected again.

7) How Do I Dispose of an Expired Tank?

If, after the initial 12 years, your tank has seen better days, you can usually trade it in for a new one at your local propane supplier where you get your tank refilled. Exchange programs, like Levco’s Propane Exchange, delivers 20lb tanks to your home and when you are ready for a new one, they take the old one away. Because the tanks are owned and cared for by the supplier, you don’t need to check for expiration dates or worry about the condition of the tank. Levco inspects all its tanks and ensures they meet state and local regulations.

Call Levco For All Your Propane Tank Needs!

Levco offers automatic propane delivery using tank monitors, installation of new propane tanks, as well as our Propane Exchange program. Whether you use propane year-round or just in the summer months, Levco is the premier choice! Thousands of homeowners have trusted Levco to keep their tanks full since 1980! Give us a call at (203) 533-8249 or contact us today!

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