Propane is an excellent fuel source for your home. Millions of Americans across the country use it. Propane gas provides many benefits for homeowners because you can use it for heating water, cooking, washing and drying. Propane tanks include many features, such as carbon steel construction, puncture resistance and built-in pressure maintenance devices.
Propane is naturally odorless but a scent is added to the gas so you might detect a leak more easily. The additive is called Ethyl Mercaptan and it’s very closely associated with rotten eggs or a skunk’s spray. There is one thing worth noting about the smell of propane. Some people have difficulty smelling it either because they have a reduced sense of smell, a cold or a history of smoking. Over time, the smell of propane can become weaker, too, as the concentration of the odor decreases. Rust buildup in the tank can also interfere with the strength of propane’s odor.
The smell of propane isn’t dangerous. Instead, the problem is in what the smell might indicate. If you smell rotten eggs or something like a skunk, it could mean you have a propane leak or that your propane system is malfunctioning in some way. Rather than being dangerous, you can think of the smell of propane as a warning sign that you need to vacate the area and call a qualified technician.
If you are concerned that you will not be able to smell propane, you can install a propane detector in your home to alert you in the event of a leak. This helps provide an extra layer of security if this is a possibility in the future. Keep in mind that the actual gas itself is non-toxic and not harmful for groundwater or soil. However, a leak is a serious issue that should never be ignored
While there are many benefits to using propane, it’s important to follow certain standards for safety so you can take appropriate action in case of an emergency. Follow these safety tips to reduce the risk of accidents and keep your family and home safe:
- Don’t stack items, especially flammable materials, such as newspapers or textiles, near your propane tank to lessen the possibility of fire.
- In the fall, sweep up any leaves that might pile up near the tank, and in the spring, keep grass clippings and other debris away from it. It is also a good idea to keep items away from any propane appliances in your home.
- Turn off the tank and disconnect your appliances any time you are not using them.
- Try to store a residential propane tank outside, not in an enclosed space such as a basement or garage.
- Keep the tank upright away from other heat sources and out of direct sunlight.
- Have your tank inspected and maintained regularly. Always call in a professional to see if any repairs are needed. Signing up for a service agreement can give you peace of mind that your tank and propane appliances will be regularly maintained and that any problems can be fixed quickly and easily.
- Inspect your tank and remove any debris from the area following a storm such as a snowstorm or thunderstorm. Some storms could cause leaves and branches to build up around your propane tank, while others might lead to piles of snow or blocks of ice around it.
Knowing how to detect a propane leak, when to get your system checked and what to do if you think there’s an issue can ensure your propane system continues to run smoothly and safely.