Things to Keep in Mind When Buying A Used Propane Tank

Things to Keep in Mind When Buying A Used Propane Tank?

When considering the purchase of a used propane tank, there are several key factors to evaluate to ensure you make a safe and suitable choice. Here’s a detailed look at these considerations:

Age of the Tank

  • How to Determine Age: The age of a propane tank can usually be found stamped on the tank’s collar. This date indicates when the tank was manufactured. Sometimes, the date of the last requalification may also be present.
  • Why It Matters: The age of a tank is crucial as it can impact its safety and usability. Older tanks may not meet current safety standards and might be more prone to leaks and structural failures. Tanks over a certain age may require requalification or may not be requalifiable at all.

Condition and Maintenance History

  • Checking for Rust, Dents, and Other Damages: Inspect the tank thoroughly for any signs of external damage like rust, dents, or corrosion. Such damages can compromise the tank’s integrity and safety.
  • Significance of Maintenance Records: Maintenance records reveal the tank’s history of upkeep, repairs, and inspections. A well-maintained tank is more likely to be in good condition and safer to use.

Capacity and Size

  • Matching the Tank Size to Your Needs: Propane tanks come in various sizes, and it’s important to choose one that fits your specific needs. Consider factors like your average propane usage and the space available for the tank. Overestimating can lead to unnecessary expense, while underestimating can result in frequent refills.

Safety Certifications

  • Ensuring the Tank Meets Safety Standards: Check if the tank has certifications from relevant safety authorities. These certifications indicate that the tank has been tested and meets specific safety requirements.

Legal Compliance

  • Understanding Local Regulations and Codes: Different regions have varying regulations regarding the installation and use of propane tanks. Ensure that the used tank you’re considering complies with local codes and regulations. This might include rules about placement, distance from buildings, and other safety considerations.

When buying a used propane tank, it’s crucial to consider its age, condition, capacity, safety certifications, and legal compliance. These factors not only ensure that the tank is a good investment but also guarantee its safe operation in your specific setting.

The used tank must have National Board numbers or U1A reports

National Board numbers and U1A reports are both used to identify and certify propane tanks. National Board numbers are assigned to propane tanks by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors. These numbers are used to track the manufacture, repair, and inspection of propane tanks, and they provide important information about the tank’s history and condition.

U1A reports, on the other hand, are documents that are prepared by an authorized inspector and submitted to the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors. These reports provide detailed information about the construction, design, and operation of a propane tank, and they are used to certify that the tank meets all relevant safety standards.

Both National Board numbers and U1A reports are important for ensuring the safety and reliability of propane tanks. National Board numbers help to identify and track propane tanks, while U1A reports provide detailed information about the tank’s construction and operation. Together, these documents help to ensure that propane tanks are safe and fit for use.

Used propane tank must have manufacturer’s plate

A used propane tank should have a manufacturer’s plate attached to it. The manufacturer’s plate is a metal plate that is attached to the propane tank and contains important information about the tank, such as its size, capacity, and the date it was manufactured. This information is important for identifying and properly using the propane tank.

In general, propane tanks are required to have a manufacturer’s plate attached to them. This requirement is established by the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors, which sets standards for the manufacture, repair, and inspection of propane tanks. The manufacturer’s plate helps to ensure that propane tanks are properly identified and used according to their specifications.

It is important to note that the information on a manufacturer’s plate can vary depending on the manufacturer and the specific model of the propane tank. Different manufacturers may include different information on their manufacturer’s plates, and different models of propane tanks may have different features and capacities. It is important to carefully read and understand the information on the manufacturer’s plate to ensure that the propane tank is used properly.

Used tank is allowed to have 25% corrosion per NFPA 58

According to the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) standard for the storage and handling of liquefied petroleum gases (NFPA 58), a used propane tank is allowed to have up to 25% corrosion on its body. This means that if the body of a used propane tank has more than 25% corrosion, it may no longer be considered safe for use and may need to be repaired or replaced.

The NFPA is a nonprofit organization that develops and publishes fire safety standards and codes. The NFPA’s standard for the storage and handling of liquefied petroleum gases (NFPA 58) provides guidelines for the safe storage, handling, and use of propane and other liquefied petroleum gases. This standard includes requirements for the construction, maintenance, and inspection of propane tanks, as well as guidelines for the safe handling of propane.

The maximum allowed corrosion on a propane tank is specified in NFPA 58 to ensure that propane tanks are safe and reliable. Prolonged exposure to environmental factors such as water and air can cause corrosion on the body of a propane tank, which can weaken the tank and make it more susceptible to failure. Allowing up to 25% corrosion on a propane tank helps to ensure that the tank is still safe for use, but that it is also not unnecessarily discarded and replaced.

What are the benefits of buying used propane tanks?

Buying used propane tanks can offer several advantages, particularly in terms of cost-effectiveness and environmental benefits:


  • Lower Purchase Price: Used propane tanks are generally available at a lower cost compared to new ones. This price difference can be significant, making it an attractive option for those on a budget.
  • Depreciation Factor: Just like vehicles, propane tanks depreciate over time. By purchasing a used tank, you avoid the initial depreciation that occurs once a new tank is first put into use.
  • Potential for Negotiation: When buying used, there’s often room for price negotiation, allowing for further savings.

Environmental Benefits

  • Reduction in Resource Use: Buying used contributes to a reduction in the demand for new materials and resources needed to manufacture new tanks. This can have a positive impact on conserving resources and reducing industrial emissions.
  • Extending the Life of Existing Tanks: Reusing a propane tank extends its life, delaying its entry into the waste stream. This is an important aspect of waste reduction and sustainable resource management.
  • Encouraging Recycling and Reuse: Purchasing used tanks supports a culture of recycling and reuse, which is essential for sustainable living. It sets a precedent for utilizing resources more efficiently and reducing unnecessary waste.

The advantages of buying used propane tanks are primarily centered around cost savings and environmental sustainability. These benefits make purchasing a used tank an appealing option for both budget-conscious and environmentally-aware consumers.

Where to Buy Used Propane Tanks

When you’re in the market for a used propane tank, knowing where to look and how to inspect your potential purchase is key. Here are some recommendations and tips:

Recommended Sources

  1. Local Propane Suppliers: Start by checking with propane suppliers in your area. They often have used tanks available or can point you in the right direction.
  2. Online Marketplaces: Websites like Craigslist, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace can be good sources for finding used propane tanks. You’ll likely find a variety of sizes and prices.
  3. Agricultural Supply Stores: If you’re in a rural area, check out local agricultural or farm supply stores. They often carry used propane tanks.
  4. Salvage Yards: Some salvage yards may have used propane tanks for sale. This could be a more affordable option.
  5. Specialized Online Retailers: There are websites dedicated to selling used industrial equipment, including propane tanks.

Tips for Inspecting a Tank Before Purchase

  1. Check for Rust and Damage: Examine the tank for signs of rust, dents, or other damage. Pay special attention to the areas around valves and seams.
  2. Look for Certification Marks: Ensure the tank has the proper certification marks, indicating it meets safety standards.
  3. Ask About Age and History: Inquire about the age of the tank and its maintenance history. Tanks older than 12 years may need to be requalified.
  4. Inspect Valves and Connections: Make sure that the valves and connections are in good condition and show no signs of wear or damage.
  5. Size and Capacity: Ensure the tank’s size and capacity meet your needs. It’s important to have a clear idea of what you require before making a purchase.
  6. Consider Professional Inspection: If possible, have a professional inspect the tank before you finalize the purchase. They can identify issues that may not be obvious.

Remember, when buying a used propane tank, thorough inspection and due diligence are crucial. This approach helps ensure you get a safe, reliable tank that suits your needs without unexpected problems down the line.

Pros and Cons of Buying New and Used Propane Tank

Pros of buying a new propane tank:

  • New tanks are likely to be in better condition and have a longer lifespan than used tanks.
  • New tanks come with a warranty, so if any issues arise, they can be covered by the manufacturer.
  • New tanks have not been previously used, so there is less risk of them having any damage or issues from previous use.

Pros of buying a used propane tank:

  • Used tanks are typically cheaper than new tanks.
  • If a used tank is in good condition, it can be just as effective as a new tank.
    Buying a used tank can be a more environmentally friendly option, as it reduces waste and the need for new resources to be used in the manufacturing process.

Cons of buying a new propane tank:

  • New tanks are more expensive than used tanks.
  • If the tank is not used frequently, it may take longer to recoup the cost of the new tank.

Cons of buying a used propane tank:

  • Used tanks may be in poor condition, with visible damage or corrosion.
  • Used tanks may have reached their expiration date and may need to be replaced soon.
  • There is a risk of buying a used tank from an unreliable source, which could result in purchasing a faulty or unsafe product.

Potential Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

When purchasing a used propane tank, being aware of potential pitfalls and knowing how to avoid them is crucial for your safety and satisfaction. Here are some common issues with used tanks and red flags to watch out for:

Common Issues with Used Tanks

  1. Leaks: Older tanks may have undetected leaks, which can be dangerous.
  2. Rust and Corrosion: Rust, especially internal rust, can weaken the tank’s structure.
  3. Outdated or Incompatible Fittings: Older tanks might have fittings that are no longer standard or compatible with current systems.
  4. Lack of Compliance with Current Regulations: Regulations change over time, and older tanks may not meet current safety standards.
  5. Incomplete or Inaccurate Maintenance Records: Without proper documentation, it’s hard to ascertain the tank’s history and condition.
  6. Previously Unresolved Recalls: Some tanks might have been subject to recalls that were never addressed.

Red Flags to Watch Out For

  1. No Visible Certification or Date Stamp: Tanks should have a clear manufacturing date and safety certification stamp.
  2. Seller Unwilling to Provide History or Records: A seller reluctant to provide detailed information about the tank’s history is a red flag.
  3. Signs of DIY Repairs: Improper repairs can compromise the tank’s safety.
  4. Excessive External Damage: While some cosmetic damage is expected, excessive dents or heavy rust indicate neglect.
  5. Unusual Odors Around the Tank: This could be a sign of leaks.
  6. Unusually Low Price: If the price seems too good to be true, it may indicate hidden problems.

How to Avoid These Pitfalls

  • Conduct a Thorough Inspection: Always inspect the tank in person, preferably with a knowledgeable person or professional.
  • Ask for Documentation: Request and review all maintenance records and certifications.
  • Seek Professional Advice: If you’re unsure, consult a professional to assess the tank’s condition.
  • Be Wary of Online Purchases: If buying online, be extra cautious and consider requesting additional photos or information.
  • Trust Your Instincts: If something feels off about the tank or the seller, it’s better to walk away.

By being mindful of these potential issues and red flags, you can make a more informed decision and avoid the common pitfalls associated with purchasing a used propane tank. Remember, safety and compliance should always be your top priorities.

What are the regulations for propane tanks?

In the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets and enforces safety and health standards for propane handling in the workplace. With regards to regulations, the 1910.110 – Storage and handling of liquefied petroleum gases is the application requirement.

Propane is also subject to regulations under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The CAA regulates emissions of air pollutants that may adversely affect public health and the environment. The CAA requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six “criteria” pollutants, including carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide.

The EPA has promulgated NAAQS for each of the six criteria pollutants. States are then responsible for developing and implementing plans to attain and maintain the NAAQS. These plans are typically referred to as “state implementation plans” or “SIPs.”

Under the CAA, the EPA has also established a program to control emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from consumer and commercial products, including propane-fueled products. The EPA’s VOC regulations are designed to reduce smog-forming emissions from these products.

In addition, the EPA has promulgated regulations to control emissions of air toxics from propane-fired appliances. Air toxics are pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects.

Propane is also subject to regulation under the Department of Transportation Requalification/Retesting (49 CFR 180.205). The regulation mandates that propane tank must be recertified 5-10 years depending on the type of bottles of cylinders.

Maintenance Tips for Used Propane Tanks

Maintaining a used propane tank is crucial for ensuring its safe operation and longevity. Here are some maintenance tips for regular checks and upkeep, along with guidance on when to seek professional maintenance:

Regular Checks and Upkeep

  1. Visual Inspections: Regularly check the tank for signs of wear, rust, corrosion, or damage. Pay special attention to areas around valves and seams.
  2. Rust Prevention: If you spot minor surface rust, address it promptly. Clean the area and apply rust-proof paint to prevent further corrosion.
  3. Check for Leaks: Periodically check for leaks by applying soapy water to all connections and valves. Bubbles forming indicate a leak.
  4. Keep Area Clear: Ensure the area around the propane tank is clear of debris, flammable materials, and vegetation. This reduces fire risk and makes inspections easier.
  5. Monitor Propane Levels: Regularly check propane levels to ensure they are within safe limits. Extremely low levels might cause air to enter the system, leading to operational issues.
  6. Valve and Regulator Checks: Make sure that all valves and regulators function properly and are not sticking or leaking.
  7. Paint and Appearance: Maintain the tank’s paint to prevent rust and ensure that it reflects sunlight, which helps to keep the propane cool.

When to Seek Professional Maintenance

  1. Annual Inspections: Have a professional inspect the tank annually, even if no issues are apparent.
  2. Significant Rust or Damage: If you observe significant rust, especially internal rust, or any structural damage, consult a professional immediately.
  3. After Any Unusual Event: If the tank has been exposed to extreme conditions, like flooding or impact, get a professional inspection.
  4. Operational Issues: If you experience problems with gas flow or pressure, it’s time to call a professional.
  5. When Relocating the Tank: If you need to move the tank, professional assistance ensures safe handling and reinstallation.
  6. Regulatory Compliance: For compliance with local safety regulations and codes, professional inspections can provide the necessary certifications.

Regular maintenance and timely professional inspections are key to keeping your used propane tank in safe working condition. By following these tips, you can enjoy the benefits of your tank while minimizing risks and ensuring compliance with safety standards.

To Make a Conclusion

Purchasing a used propane tank can be a wise and cost-effective decision when approached with careful consideration and knowledge. By understanding key factors such as the age of the tank, its condition and maintenance history, capacity and size, safety certifications, and legal compliance, you can make an informed choice that ensures both safety and value.

Moreover, being aware of where to buy, recognizing potential pitfalls, and adhering to regular maintenance practices further enhance the benefits of your investment. Buying a used propane tank not only saves money but also contributes positively to environmental sustainability by extending the useful life of existing resources.

Remember, the key to a successful purchase lies in thorough research, cautious inspection, and ongoing maintenance. With these considerations in mind, you can confidently navigate the process of buying and maintaining a used propane tank, ensuring it serves your needs safely and efficiently for years to come.

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