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Propane Safety: What You Need to Know

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Propane Properties

Propane is a liquefied petroleum gas and aromatic hydrocarbon that may be utilized as a gaseous fuel. Propane's best known hydrocarbon neighbors are methane (natural gas) and butane (disposable cigarette lighters). Unlike methane vapor that is lighter than air, propane vapor is heavier than air. Unlike liquid butane that will not vaporize at temperatures less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit, liquid propane will vaporize at any temperature above -44 degrees fahrenheit. A gallon of liquid propane weighs 4.24 pounds and contains 91,650 BTU's. Propane, and all other hydrocarbon based fuels, must be kept away from open flame(s) and ignition sources. Propane must also be handled with care, transported properly, and stored safely.

The majority of propane consumed in the Northeast is produced in the United States and Canada. Liquid propane reaches your home via a network of pipelines, rail cars and delivery trucks. Your DiSanto propane system has been installed in accordance with NFPA Pamphlet #54 , NFPA Pamphlet #58, and any applicable state or local codes.

Propane is sold as a liquid (U.S. gallon), by the pound, or as a vapor by the cubic foot. Your residential appliances consume propane in its vapor form. Propane vapor reaches your appliances through your propane distribution system. When your DiSanto propane system was installed it was determined to be 100% safe and leak free. Absolutely no alterations or modifications should be made to your propane system by anyone other than DiSanto authorized personnel.

WARNING!  The slightest modification or alteration to your propane system by unauthorized personnel may cause a potentially dangerous or life-threatening situation.

Any propane system may develop faults that will allow propane vapor to escape. Propane vapor most often evidences itself via its distinctive unpleasant odor. The presence of propane's distinctive odor indicates that propane vapor is likely to be present and a potentially dangerous situation may exist. Should this situation ever present itself, extinguish all open flames and immediately leave the area where the odor is present. Do not touch any electrical switches or appliances. Go directly to your propane system's storage vessel, open the tank hood and close the vapor service valve. Under no circumstance should the vapor service valve be left open or be re-opened. Proceed immediately to the nearest off premise telephone and contact us for further instructions.
In rare instances, certain individuals may be unable to detect propane's odor. In these situations, an electronic leak detector should be utilized.


Propane Safety Rules

Propane vapor is heavier than air. As such, in the event of an unintended release of propane vapor, the vapor will migrate to the lowest point. For example, your basement or crawl space.

  • Do not tamper with your system's supply lines or appliances.

  • Do not tamper with any safety devices, regulators or storage tank fittings .

  • Familiarize yourself with the location of your storage tank's vapor service shutoff valve.

  • Installation or repair of propane gas appliances or equipment must be performed by a qualified technician.

  • Never test for a propane leak using an open flame. Only suitable leak detection solutions may be used. These solutions are available from DiSanto Propane.

Propane must ALWAYS be handled with CAUTION. In the unlikely event that a propane leak should occur, take the following steps:

a. Immediately shut off the storage tank's service valve.
b. Eliminate all possible outside sources of ignition.
c. Do NOT turn on any light switches.
d. Do NOT use a cell phone or any other electrically operated communications device.
e. Exit the building and IMMEDIATELY call 911 from another location (e.g. a neighboring building). 
f. AFTER calling 911, call DiSanto Propane immediately.


Propane's Odor

When produced, propane is colorless and odorless. For safety and detection purposes, a chemical odorant (ethyl mercaptan) is added to propane. The presence of the odorant alerts you of a potential propane gas leak.

Under certain circumstances, the odorant in propane gas may oxidize and lose it's distinctive odor. This odor fade can occur in new steel containers when first placed into service and in older steel containers that have been left open to the atmosphere. Not all people are able to detect the presence of the propane's odorant. Physical conditions such as competing odors, colds, flu, allergies, or smoking may diminish a person's ability to detect the odorant.

If you think that you cannot detect the presence of the odorant, or if you have an impaired sense of smell, please contact us. A service technician will verify the presence or absence of odorant present in your system. If you suffer from and impaired sense of smell, consider the installation of an electronic gas detector.


Appliance Safety

Only AGA approved appliances that are properly installed and adjusted may be connected to your gas system. A properly adjusted gas appliance produces carbon dioxide and water vapor as by-products of combustion. Improperly adjusted appliances are dangerous and can produce, among other things, carbon monoxide.

Never attempt a "do it yourself" repair on any gas appliance. Only qualified technicians should attempt the installation or repair of gas appliances. If you are experiencing a problem with any of your gas appliances please contact us. One of our technicians will correct the problem.


Your Regulators and Distribution System

As the ambient temperature rises, propane vapor pressure rises. When the ambient temperature drops, propane vapor pressure drops. To alleviate this temperature induced fluctuation of vapor pressure, your first stage regulator and second stage regulator (or if utilized, integral two-stage regulator) maintain a constant service pressure to your appliances.

The first-stage regulator is attached directly to your container's vapor service valve. The first stage supply line connects the first stage regulator to the second stage regulator, which in turn, is connected to the interior distribution system that your appliances are connected to.

Your regulators are installed in a specific manner. This is done to alleviate premature failure due to atmospheric or anthropomorphic conditions. When your regulators are operating, they emit a very slight sound similar to wind blowing. This is perfectly normal and no cause for concern.

Never attempt to repair a regulator. Regulators are constructed in such a manner as to preclude their reassembly. Please contact us if you believe that you are experiencing regulator problems.

WARNING!  A blocked regulator vent can result in elevated gas supply pressures. Regulator failure could ensue, which may result in injury and/or property damage.


General Container Information

Propane is sold and stored in portable DOT containers or fixed placement ASME containers. When a container is filled to its proper liquid level it will be approximately 80 percent full. The remaining 20 percent of the container's volume contains propane vapor. This is the propane vapor consumed by your appliances.

The vapor space in the container also provides room for the expansion of liquid propane. Liquid propane has a moderately high coefficient of expansion and accordingly, expands greatly when subjected to temperature increases.

WARNING!  If a container is filled beyond it maximum permitted liquid filling density, a situation may develop in which there will not be enough space available to accommodate the liquid propane's expansion. When an overfilled container is exposed to any temperature increase, the following hazardous conditions may occur:

  • The hydrostatic relief valve may actuate (open), discharging liquid propane to the atmosphere.

  • Liquid propane could enter your system's distribution lines. This would result in higher than normal operating pressures to your appliances.

  • If the container becomes hydrostatic, and the hydrostatic relief valve fails to open, the container could rupture, resulting in serious injury or property damage.


Container Handling and Safety

When transporting your propane gas container, or storing it for future use, a few simple precautions must be followed:

  • Never use, store, or transport containers in the passenger compartment of your vehicle.
    Never store a container inside a building, including your garage. Containers should be stored outdoors and off the ground on a non-combustible base. The container's vapor service outlet should be plugged.

  • Propane gas containers must be transported in an upright position. This allows the hydrostatic relief valve to remain in the container's vapor space at all times. Only a container designed for horizontal use may be transported horizontally.

  • When transporting a container, the container's vapor service outlet must be plugged or protected. The container's vapor service outlet is a female POL type connection.

Any container that is damaged, corroded, exposed to fire, or appears to be leaking must be removed from service immediately. If you have a defective, damaged, or leaking container, contact us and a trained technician will remove it from service.


Container Refilling

WARNING!  Only properly trained technicians may engage in container refilling.

New containers must be properly purged by a qualified technician prior to their initial filling. This insures that your appliances will operate properly. The presence of oxygen in an improperly purged container can diminish the containers odorant level and cause excessive pressures. Once a container has been properly purged, the vapor service valve must remain closed, except when in use.

Containers are filled by weight or fixed liquid level gauge to prevent overfilling. It is imperative that your container be filled by a qualified technician.


Container Maintenance

The exterior of your container should be protected with light-colored, heat-reflective paint. This will reduce pressure increases as ambient temperatures rise. A proper exterior coating will protect against rust and corrosion. Aluminum containers do not require painting.

When taking advantage of DiSanto Propane rental tank service, all container maintenance is provided free of charge.


Industry Efforts to Safeguard Propane Use:

GAS Check® is an inspection program developed by the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), and funded by PERC that provides guidelines to technicians on how to perform two different types of residential safety inspections:

  • A “Gas System Check” which must be completed on the gas delivery system, including the containers, regulators, and appurtenances; and

  • A “Gas Appliance System Check” which includes all of the items of a “Gas Systems Check” as well as on all propane-burning appliances. GAS Check® also educates homeowners on the safe use of propane and the maintenance of propane appliances.
     

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