Have you noticed you’re running out of gas more than usual? There are possible causes why you run out of propane faster than expected. Here are some of the culprits:
(1) There is a leak on the hose or somewhere in the connection
A gas leak is the most common reason why your tank runs out of gas faster than expected. Manute leaks, when remain undetected, can have disastrous consequences on your usage. Not to mention tank leak is dangerous and this is the last thing you want to happen in your home. If you smell rotten eggs or some sort of gas in an area in your house, immediately evacuate and leave the premises, this is a very dangerous situation to be in.
Signs of Gas Leak:
Do you smell rotten eggs? Propane is an odorless gas, but for safety reasons, manufacturers added a chemical called ethyl mercaptan so when a leak or spill happens the presence of propane can easily be detectable. Inside the house, being confined and constricted, a propane leak is easily determined because of the foul smell of rotten eggs.
Do you hear a tiny hissing sound near the hose or pipe connection of the tank? If so, then, a tiny leak is somewhere in the connection. This is something you have to worry about because propane can easily accumulate and with just a small spark, an explosion could happen. To confirm and determine the exact location of the leak, do a simple soap test (apply soapy water to the entire connection).
If your tank is large and permanently installed, immediately call the dealer and report the problem, a technician will come to inspect the tank.
(2) You installed an appliance with high BTU usage.
If you installed an appliance with a high BTU rating, this is probably one of the reasons why you propane usage goes to the roof. The next time you buy a new propane-powered appliance, take note of its BTU usage. Remember, 1 gallon of propane is equal to 91,452 BTU, this conversion is important so that you have an estimate of how much propane the appliance you’re planning to buy takes up.
Here are some of the home appliances that have high BTU usage:
|Water heater (with 50-gallon capacity)
|Outdoor fire pit
|45,000- 54,000 BTU/hr.
(3) Weather has a direct effect on how much propane you’re using
If cold winter is approaching and the weather is becoming cold day after day, probably one of your family members is using the heating system to keep the home at a comfortable temperature. In addition, during winter months, frequent use of water heaters results in increased consumption of gas.
(4) Outdated Appliances can eat up your gas
If you have a 20-year-old furnace or a boiler to warm your home, its gas consumption tends to be not as efficient compared to modern systems thus resulting in your tank running out of gas fast. The old system does consume a lot of gas, so this might be the right time to get an update to save some gas.
(5) You haven’t cleaned or maintained your home appliance
Your propane tank is only one part of the overall health of your gas system. The appliance must also receive some good touch in terms of maintenance. It’s time to give your heaters and fireplaces the care and maintenance they require because they have been operating nonstop for the past few months.
While some of those items might need to be turned off once in a while, others, like your grill and fire pit, need to be prepared for the season to come and thus require some cleaning. Keeping your appliances clean will enable them to run efficiently resulting to lower propane consumption.
Use of propane to run appliances does require some obligation in your part as a homeowner. Be sure to do periodic maintenance of the appliances and the overall system as well.
(6) You have a faulty gauge
If the reading in your old and obsolete gauge is inaccurate, this is probably the reason why you notice the tank is halfway empty but in reality, the tank still contains a considerable amount of gas.
If the gauge isn’t working or its needle is somewhat stuck, get a small magnet and place it on top, and move it back and forth until the needle moves. If the needle doesn’t move, it is time to replace your defective gauge. Have the gauges been replaced by a professional technician for safety reasons?
(7) You have a bad regulator
If you’re using a 20-lb or a 33-lb propane tank to power a stove or range, and if its regulator is in good working condition, you will notice a strong blue flame. But if its regulator is bad, a lazy yellow flame is what you’re going to notice instead of the bright blue.
Other signs that the regulator is bad are burners are noisy and the flame coming out is tall. This is a sign the regulator doesn’t do its job – high pressure is coming out. This makes your home propane tank run out of gas so fast.
(8) You have a furnace that has a defective thermostat
If your furnace system is old and outdated, its thermostat may be defective as it no longer regulates indoor temperature as it should. If your home is not getting the correct temperature when the furnace is in operation, its filter may be clogged or its vents are blocked.
Any problem in the thermostat will result in less efficiency and running out of gas in the tank as expected. To check, contact a qualified furnace technician and resolve the issue at the soonest possible time.
Table of Contents
Knowing Your Appliance’s Consumption Rate
How propane is measured for you:
When you buy propane, it’s usually measured in gallons or pounds, depending on whether you’re considering its liquid volume or weight. But if you’re looking at its energy output, you’ll see it referred to in British Thermal Units (BTUs). To give you an idea, one gallon of propane has about 91,500 BTUs of energy.
Your appliance’s typical consumption rates:
- Your Propane Furnace: If you have a furnace, it’s likely to use between 100,000 and 200,000 BTUs per hour, depending on its size and efficiency.
- Your Propane Water Heater: Most water heaters you’ll find in homes use between 20,000 and 40,000 BTUs per hour.
- Your Propane Stove: When you turn a stove burner on high, it’ll use about 7,000 BTUs per hour. If you’re baking, your oven might use around 25,000 BTUs per hour.
- Your Propane Grill: If you love grilling, note that grills can range from 25,000 to 60,000 BTUs per hour, depending on how intense you like your barbecue.
Factors Affecting Your Propane Consumption
a. Appliance Efficiency
- Age and maintenance of your appliances: If you have older appliances, they may not burn propane as efficiently as the newer ones. Ensuring regular maintenance can help your devices run at their best.
- BTU ratings and your usage: While the BTU rating on your appliance gives maximum energy usage, how much it actually uses depends on how you operate it.
b. External Temperature
- Colder temperatures and your propane usage: When it’s freezing outside, your furnace works harder to keep you warm. This means you’re going through your propane faster during those chilly months.
c. Your Tank Size and Capacity
- Different tank sizes for you: You might have a 20-pound cylinder for grilling or even a 1,000-gallon tank if you have a big house or multiple propane appliances.
- What “full” really means for your tank: Remember, when you fill up your propane tank, it’s not getting filled to 100%. For safety, it’s usually at about 80-85% to allow space for the liquid propane to expand.
d. Leaks and Maintenance
- The danger of small leaks: Even a tiny leak can cause a significant loss of propane over time. Plus, it’s risky for you with potential fire hazards.
- Why you should get regular checks: Scheduling annual or semi-annual checks ensures everything is in order and your system runs efficiently, keeping you safe.
e. Your Usage Patterns
- How your routines affect usage: If you host parties, have guests stay over or change your daily routines, you might notice you’re using more propane.
- Your habits and propane consumption: Small habits, like leaving heaters on unnecessarily or frequently adjusting thermostats, can make a difference in how quickly you go through your propane.
How to Monitor Your Propane Usage
Signs that you’re using more propane than normal:
- Unexpectedly High Bills: If you’re seeing higher bills without any notable change in your routine or weather conditions, it might be a sign of increased propane use.
- Frequent Refills: If you find yourself refilling the propane tank more often than usual, you’re likely consuming more propane.
- Changes in Appliance Performance: If your appliances, like your furnace or water heater, are working harder or longer to achieve the same results, they might be using more fuel.
Tools and technologies available for monitoring usage:
- Tank Gauges: Most propane tanks come with a built-in gauge that shows you how much propane remains in the tank. It’s the quickest way to physically check your levels.
- Smart Meters: These devices provide real-time data on your propane usage. You can track your consumption patterns and make changes to use propane more efficiently.
- Remote Monitoring Systems: Some propane providers offer systems that allow both you and the supplier to monitor your propane levels. This can help in scheduling timely refills.
- Mobile Apps: Several apps can sync with your monitoring systems, sending you alerts about low levels or high usage.
Tips to Extend Propane Lifespan
- Regular maintenance and checks for leaks: It’s essential to ensure that your propane system is free of leaks and working efficiently. A professional check can help identify issues before they become bigger problems.
- Energy-saving tips:
- Insulate Your Home: Proper insulation keeps the heat in during winter and out during summer, reducing the need for excessive heating or cooling.
- Energy-Efficient Appliances: When it’s time to replace or buy new appliances, opt for energy-efficient models. They might cost more upfront but can save you a lot in energy bills over time.
- Weatherstripping: Seal any gaps in doors and windows to prevent drafts. This simple measure can greatly reduce the need to crank up your heater.
- Mindful usage habits:
- Turn Off When Not Needed: Always turn off your propane appliances when they’re not in use. For instance, don’t leave your heater on if you’re going out for the day.
- Adjust Thermostats: Instead of setting the temperature very high, aim for a comfortable range. Often, lowering the thermostat by just a few degrees can lead to significant savings.
- Limit Water Heater Usage: Take shorter showers and avoid letting hot water run unnecessarily. Adjusting the water heater’s thermostat to a lower but comfortable setting can also help in saving propane.
Being proactive and aware of your propane usage patterns can lead to substantial savings and a reduced environmental footprint. It not only saves you money but also ensures a more sustainable energy consumption pattern in your home.
You May Call a Professional If You Have Abnormally High Propane Usage
Propane is an efficient and popular source of energy for many households. However, if you notice that you’re going through propane more quickly than usual, it’s essential to investigate the cause. Abnormally high propane usage can be a sign of several issues, ranging from appliance inefficiencies to potentially hazardous leaks. If you’re facing such a situation, it may be time to call a professional.
1. Why It’s Important:
- Safety Concerns: Propane leaks can pose significant risks, including fire hazards or even explosions.
- Economic Implications: Unnoticed issues can lead to higher propane bills, costing you more money over time.
- Efficiency: An efficiently running propane system ensures that you’re getting the most out of your energy source.
2. Potential Causes of High Propane Usage:
- Leaks: Small leaks in your propane system, though potentially undetectable by smell, can lead to significant losses over time.
- Appliance Malfunctions: Appliances that aren’t operating efficiently can consume more propane than they should.
- Inadequate Home Insulation: Poor insulation can result in higher heating demands during cold months, leading to increased propane usage.
3. How a Professional Can Help:
- Expertise: Professionals come equipped with the knowledge and tools to accurately diagnose the cause of the increased consumption.
- Advanced Detection: They use specialized equipment to detect even the smallest of leaks in your system.
- Efficient Solutions: Once they’ve identified the issue, they can provide targeted solutions, whether it’s repairing a leak, adjusting an appliance, or suggesting efficiency upgrades.
- Peace of Mind: Knowing that an expert has inspected and approved your system can provide significant peace of mind regarding your home’s safety and efficiency.
4. What You Can Do In the Meantime:
- Monitor Usage: Keep an eye on your propane levels and note how frequently you need refills.
- Check Appliances: Observe if any of your propane-powered appliances are behaving oddly or are not as efficient as they used to be.
- Safety First: If you suspect a leak, shut off the main gas supply, ensure proper ventilation, avoid igniting any flames, and immediately call for professional help.
While propane is a safe and efficient energy source, like all fuels, it demands respect and awareness. If you notice that your tank is depleting faster than usual, don’t hesitate to seek expert assistance. It’s always better to be proactive and ensure the safety and efficiency of your home’s energy system.
How to Save Up on Propane Gas to Cut Costs
To save some gas, you just do the opposite of what you’re doing right now (what is mentioned above). Here are some of the ways you can do to cut costs:
- Contact a professional to fix the gas leak – contact the company you’re ordering your propane from. They would dispatch their technician at the soonest possible time because they know this issue is an emergency.
- Do a regular inspection of the heating system is necessary – this requires hiring a professional technician again. Yes, you may have to spend some amount but at the end of the day, your heating system will run smoothly and save you gas significantly.
- Opt for a digital thermostat – modern thermostat models allow you to save up to 10-15% of your gas bill monthly.
- Choose a low BTU appliance – when you’re buying a new appliance to be added to your home, choose the one with low BTU consumption. If you’re shopping, inquire which appliance has high efficiency.
- Use pool heater less often – pool heaters are one of the biggest eater of gas as it has the highest BTU consumption of all home appliances. If you could reduce pool use, you can save gas considerably.
- Do regular maintenance on your water heater – do you have a relative old heater in your home? I bet you, it is full of sediments and dirt right now. Regular cleaning of the water heater prevents sediments from accumulating thus heating is more efficient.
- Replace regulators and gauge if they’re a few years old – don’t wait until they become defective. Replace gauges and regulators when they’ve been installed for more than five years.
- Turn down the heat or air conditioning when you’re not at home – This is common for homeowners to leave AC on even when not at home. Refrain from doing so.
Depending on the particular circumstances, one or more of these may apply to your home.
If you’ve ever scratched your head wondering why your propane is depleting faster than usual, you’re not alone. Many factors can contribute, from potential leaks in your system to overworked appliances and even the insulation of your home.
Being proactive, regularly checking your equipment, and being mindful of your consumption habits are essential. Remember, understanding and monitoring your propane usage not only ensures efficiency and cost savings but, more importantly, guarantees the safety and comfort of your home environment. Always stay informed and proactive; that way, you can make the most of your propane without any unexpected run-outs.
Mike is an experienced propane technician with over 15 years of professional experience in the field. He has dedicated his career to helping customers with their propane needs, from installation to maintenance and repair. Together with Jeremy, he co-founded this website to provide useful information and guidance to customers seeking reliable propane services.