- Learn what propane smells like. Since propane is odorless, it is intentionally odorized so leaks can be detected. The odor is similar to rotten eggs. Call the Railroad Commission’s Alternative Fuels Division at (800) 64-CLEAR for a free “scratch-and-sniff” pamphlet that can help familiarize you, your family, and your co-workers with the smell of propane.
- Propane vapors are heavier than air and may accumulate in low-lying areas such as basements and ditches or along floors.
- Propane is flammable when mixed with air and can be ignited by many different sources. Don’t store cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, gasoline, or other flammable liquids near a gas-burning appliance where vapors could be ignited by the pilot light.
What happens if I run out of gas?
If an appliance valve or a gas line is left open when the propane supply runs out, a leak could occur when the system is recharged with propane.
Air and moisture could get into an empty or depleted storage tank, which can cause rust build-up inside the tank. Rust can decrease the concentration of the odor of propane, making it harder to smell.
If your propane tank runs out of gas, any pilot lights on your appliances will go out. This can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly.
A LEAK CHECK IS REQUIRED. A qualified service technician must perform a leak check of your propane system before turning on the gas.
SET UP REGULAR DELIVERY. Establish a regular delivery schedule with your propane retailer. Also, periodically check the fuel gauge on your propane tank. If the fuel level drops below 20%, call your propane retailer.
General Safety Reminders
Propane is a very safe fuel. But as with any energy source, there are steps you should take to further ensure your safety:
- Know where gas lines are located, so you won’t damage them when digging or working in the yard.
- Change or clean furnace filters regularly as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Don’t store cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, gasoline, or other flammable liquids near a gas-burning appliance where vapors could be ignited by the pilot light.
- Know how to shut off the gas supply from your tank or cylinder. If you do not know how, contact your propane supplier for instructions.
- Never place your head near or directly over the valves on your storage tank. A sudden release of product from the safety relief valve could result in serious injury.
- The propane liquid that is stored in your tank or cylinder can cause severe frostbite if it comes in contact with your skin or eyes.
- If you smell gas, please contact us. Never assume that propane odor is only the result of your tank being near empty. If the odor persists, you may have a serious leak.
What To Do If You Smell Gas
If you think you smell propane in your home, camper, RV or the area around any gas equipment, or if a gas alarm signals the presence of propane, you should IMMEDIATELY follow these suggestions:
- Extinguish all smoking materials and any other open flames or sources of ignition. Everyone should vacate the building, vehicle or area.
- Move away without using any electric switches, appliances, thermostats, or telephones.
- Close the gas shutoff valve on the propane tank or cylinder.
- Call us and/or your local fire department from a cellular telephone or a neighbor’s telephone.
- Even if you do not continue to smell propane, do not open or turn on the propane supply valve. Do not re-enter the building, vehicle or area. Let a qualified propane service technician and/or emergency personnel check for escaped propane.
- Have a properly trained propane service technician repair the leak. The propane service technician or emergency responder needs to determine that the leak situation has been fully resolved. The propane service technician should check all of your gas appliances and re-light any appliance pilots.
- Return to the building, camper, RV or area only when the service or emergency technician indicates it is safe to do so.
What To Do If Your Safety Relief Valve Pops Off
- Propane expands when heated. That increases the pressure in the tank. Above a certain pressure, the relief valve opens to release a small amount of vapor. That release keeps the pressure from building up too much inside the tank. Once excess pressure has been released, the relief valve closes automatically.
- It’s important to keep your tank painted with a white, aluminum or other reflective color. A rusty, unpainted or dark-colored tank may cause pressure build-up resulting in a safety relief valve discharge.
- Call us whenever your relief valve pops off, so we can determine the cause.
- All appliances should be installed and repaired only by qualified technicians. Improper ventilation can starve the combustion process in the appliance and create a situation that could produce toxic carbon monoxide gas. Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that, in sufficient amounts, may be deadly to humans. Usually, headaches and/or flu-like systems are initial signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. If you suspect that any of your appliances have been improperly vented, you should discontinue using them and contact your propane supplier or local fire department immediately for an inspection.
- An appliance gas control is a precision mechanism that may malfunction if it is exposed to water from flooding, storms, or any other damaging environments. A flooded gas control must be replaced by a qualified gas appliance technician. Damaged gas control valves must be replaced.