Can Propane Tanks Explode? (Find Out Now!)

Can Propane Tanks Explode?

Propane tanks are frequently used for home and water heating, as well as to power farm and industrial equipment. Even though propane is a safe energy source, many people fear that their tank is at risk of exploding. So is this a valid concern, and if so, how can you prevent propane tank explosions?

Propane tank explosions or BLEVEs (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosions) are extremely rare. For a BLEVE to occur, a propane tank must be exposed to extreme heat for a prolonged period of time. The probability of your propane tank exploding is minuscule, but following safety guidelines will reduce the risk even more.

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What Is A Propane Tank?

A propane tank is a storage container for liquid propane. Propane tanks are specially designed and engineered to hold propane at high pressure. You can buy propane tanks in a range of sizes.

A propane tank is usually installed at the requested location and then filled on-site. The average propane tank weighs 17 pounds when empty and 37 pounds when full.

What Is Propane?

We now know that a propane tank is a storage container for propane, but what is propane? Propane is a flammable gas made of a combination of refined petroleum and natural gas. Although propane has a gaseous form, it’s typically used as a bottled liquid fuel. Propane is compact and transportable in its liquid state.

What Is Propane Used For?

Propane is often used as the energy source for outdoor items like propane grills and fire pits. It’s also a great energy source for indoor and outdoor lighting, water heaters, and space heaters.

What Does Propane Look Like?

Inside the propane tank, propane is stored as a liquid that looks a lot like water. When it comes out of the tank, though, the propane takes on a gaseous form. Propane isn’t stored as a gas because it’s nearly 300 times larger than liquid propane!

Why Do Propane Tanks Explode?

Contrary to popular belief, it’s extremely rare for a propane tank to explode! Propane tanks are very unlikely to explode on their own. Even if you try to get a propane tank to explode, you probably won’t be successful.

What Is The Risk Of Dying From A Propane Explosion?

A 1981 study from the Department of Energy stated that the risk of dying from a propane explosion is around one in 37 million. This is basically the same risk that a person has of dying in a plane crash.

Since propane is a flammable material kept under pressure in a tank, many believe explosions are possible or even probable. However, the reality is that propane tanks are very durable and hardy. They even have built-in safety precautions that lower the risk of explosions.

What Causes Propane Tank Explosions?

What is often called a propane explosion is really a gas leak exposed to high temperatures or a flame. The explosion of a propane tank is possible but very rare. This type of explosion is called a BLEVE: a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.

BLEVEs occur when the pressure inside a propane tank is more than the pressure it is able to vent safely. This causes the tank to burst open. You can cut back on the risk of explosion by simply using safe storage and handling practices.

Regularly checking your propane tank relief valves is also wise. Propane tanks can freeze as well, and that can cause expensive damage.

Why Do BLEVEs Take Place?

A propane tank BLEVE typically takes place when the tank is exposed to extreme heat. For instance, if the tank is heated by fire, the liquid propane inside will begin to expand. As it expands, the tank’s safety relief valve vents the pressure outward.

If the pressure inside the tank cannot be expelled from the tank efficiently, the tank may rupture. Then, if a fire or another source of ignition is nearby, the propane will ignite. This results in an explosion.

Keep in mind that BLEVEs only take place when conditions are right. This often means that the propane tank must be exposed to continuous flames over a long period of time. All in all, the probability of a propane tank explosion is very low.

How To Keep Your Propane Tank From Exploding

Are you still concerned that your propane tank might explode? You might be happy to learn that all propane tanks are equipped with a relief valve. This relief valve works as the first line of defense against BLEVEs.

Your propane tank’s relief valve opens automatically whenever the pressure inside the tank rises to a certain level. It reduces pressure by venting gas outward. Because of the relief valve, it takes direct exposure to pressure and extremely high temperatures for a BLEVE to happen.

You can also cut down on the risk of propane tank explosions by being cautious and vigilant. Be sure to close your propane tank whenever you’re not using it. It’s also wise to regularly check the connections and hoses for leaks. When using a gas grill, keep an eye on it while it heats up.

These simple precautions will help you use your propane tank safely and with a smaller risk of a BLEVE. As long as you follow safety guidelines, the probability of a BLEVE occurring is very low. Propane tanks are considered a very safe energy source overall.

Safety Guidelines For Propane Tanks

Although propane tanks are generally safe, following these guidelines will reduce the risk of any accidents occurring.

Handling Propane Tanks Safely

Avoid using and storing propane tanks indoors or in any type of living space. In addition, when transporting a propane tank, it should always be properly secured. After transporting the tank, do not leave it inside a car or other closed vehicle.

If you’re building heat or cooking with a temporary propane tank, it’s best to secure it. Unless you’re qualified to do so, you shouldn’t connect a propane tank to an appliance yourself. Instead, contact a qualified propane service technician to do it for you.

Using Propane Gas Appliances Properly

Of course, you should not use a propane grill indoors. Propane stoves and ovens should never be used in place of a space heater, either. When in doubt, speak with a qualified technician; they can perform leaks tests and connect appliances safely.

You should always monitor the amount of propane left in the tank. Letting a propane tank run out can be dangerous if a gas line or appliance valve is also open. This is because an empty tank plus an open gas line or valve can cause a leak.

To avoid potential leaks, schedule regular delivery of propane from your supplier. If you have a regular delivery set up, you won’t have to worry about your propane tank running out. Find out how long a propane tank lasts on a fire pit.

What To Do If You Smell Gas

The first thing you need to do when you smell gas is to extinguish any smoking materials or open flames. Get everyone away from the area and turn off the gas supply valve to your propane tank, if possible.

Next, contact your propane supplier. If you can’t reach them, call 911. Avoid returning to the area until emergency responders or your propane supplier lets you know that it’s safe.

Don’t use your propane appliances after a leak until your entire system has been checked by a professional.

Propane Gas Detectors

Propane gas detectors are designed to sound an alarm whenever they sense the presence of propane. Not only do these detectors help keep you safe, but they also provide valuable peace of mind.

It’s wise to get a propane gas detector (or even a few) if you’re concerned that you may not smell a gas leak. It’s possible for the odor to be weakened in some situations. Water, air, or rust in the propane tank can result in a less concentrated smell, for instance.

You may want to get a propane gas detector if you have propane-powered appliances in rarely-visited parts of the house. Once installed, be sure to maintain your detectors as instructed by the manufacturer.

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Related Questions

Do propane tanks expire?

Propane tanks that are 100 pounds or less expire 12 years after the date of manufacture. At this point, you can either replace your propane tank or have a professional inspect it. If it is inspected, your propane tank can potentially be requalified for an additional five years.

Do propane tanks come filled?

Propane tanks are typically installed when they’re empty. Then, a professional comes in and fills the tank on-site. You may be able to purchase a filled propane tank in some cases, but they generally do not come filled.

Do propane tanks explode when shot?

Propane tanks generally do not explode when shot. They must be exposed to an open flame for an explosion to occur.

Jessica Allen

With a lifelong passion for writing plus strong enthusiasm for home improvement and DIY projects, joining the team at Upgraded Home was an easy choice. Jessica Allen likes to share helpful information with current and aspiring homeowners. Aside from writing, Jessica loves doing yoga, playing the piano, and dabbling in graphic design.

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