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How to Do a Pre-Winter Inspection of the Propane Fuel System for Heating Your Home

The heating season is about to begin again in a few short weeks. For those who rely on propane gas for their winter heating fuel, this is also the time to inspect, fix, or replace parts in the propane system to make sure everything is in proper working odor before you receive your first shipment of propane gas for the winter. If you are new to using propane tanks, here is how to inspect your propane system to make sure everything is in working order.

Propane System Inspection

If you have an above ground propane tank, take a walk around the tank and look for new rust and dents that occurred over the warm months (underground tanks should be inspected by professionals). Excessive rusting is a sign that the metal on the tank is weakening and could be getting too thin to safely store highly pressurized propane gas.

Dents should also be closely inspected to make sure the metal casing has not been compromised. In both cases of excessive rusting or denting, you will want to have a professional propane service company inspect the tank for weakness before you fill the tank for the winter.

You should also check the fittings and hose lines running to your home for any damage that might have happened over the summer. You should start first at the top of the tank where the regulator and relief valves are located.

If the relief valve is stuck in a raised position, it will need to be replaced. Turn the handle on the regulator to make sure it opens and closes properly. Follow the gas line from the tank to your house. Look for crimps or other damage in the line (if you hear gas leaking or smell propane gas, the line will have to be replaced). Check to make sure all the gas line connections are tightened and secure.

Check for Leaks

After you have received your first propane delivery to start the season and the pressure in the tank will be at its highest, you should recheck for leaks in the system. Take some regular dish detergent and mix it with water in a pail until you get a soapy solution. You will also need a medium-sized sponge.

Use the sponge to squeeze the dish detergent solution over the regulator, pressure relief valve, and pipe connections and fittings. If the gas line is above ground, walk along it while squeezing the soapy solution on the line to see if bubbles form. Small bubbles mean you have a tiny leak, and large bubbles mean you have a significant leak. 

Tighten the fittings and connections where you have leaks. Pour more dishwashing solution over the parts you tightened again. If the bubbling stops, you're fine; but if the bubbling continues, you should call in a professional technician like Blue Flame Gas Service to replace the connections and valves that are leaking.