But safety when using propane is crucial, especially when opening and closing the propane tank valve. The valve manages the propane flow from the tank to the hose and regulator, which are connected to the appliance.
In use, you’ll find various valves, including POL, ACME, and OPD valves, each offering unique characteristics and benefits. However, the main question is: Should you open the propane tank valve fully, or can you save gas if you open a propane tank halfway? The correct response is that you must always fully open gas tanks in use and fully close them when finished.
The reason is any leaks or pressure buildup is prevented. Most propane tank valves offer double-seated valves that only activate when you open the valve all the way. Propane can seep from the valve or connection if you don’t open the valve all the way, such as half open because the seal does not function correctly unless it is completely opened.
In our guide, you can learn more about how to properly valve open a propane tank, the valves in use, and how to maintain the correct gas pressure. By the end, you’ll know how to ensure your tank and valve are working properly and what to do if your propane tank valve won’t open or you have older appliances. (Read Can You Lay A Propane Tank On Its Side)
Types of Propane Valve
The most significant development in propane tanks over time has been the way valves have been continuously enhanced. These enhancements include characteristics that make propane safer to use and are also simple to use.
POL Valves: POL valve is the oldest propane tank valve control type and is considered archaic.
It has threads inside the connector switch, which means you need a wrench to tighten and loosen the seal connection for gas flow. POL valve does not have a safety device that prevents propane from leaving the tank unless it is firmly attached to another device, so you need a plug in the valve for storage or transportation.
ACME Valve: ACME valve is a quick-close valve slightly bigger than a POL valve. It has threads outside the connector, making it easier to attach and detach without a wrench.
ACME valve has a built-in safety device that keeps propane from leaving the tank when fully opened unless firmly attached to another device, so you don’t need a plug in the valve for storage or transportation.
ACME valve is safer and more user-friendly than a POL valve and is compatible with most newer tanks and appliances.
OPD Valves: OPD valve is the newest and safest type of propane tank valve. It has a triangle-shaped 3-lobed valve that is easy to recognize.
The safety device known as a “OPD” guards against the tank being filled past its maximum capacity. Overfilling can cause pressure buildup and leaks, which can be dangerous.
OPD valve also has a safety device that keeps propane from leaving the tank unless it is firmly attached to another device when fully opened all the way, so you don’t need a plug-in seal in the valve to stop the flow in storage or transportation.
OPD valve is the most recommended type of valve for propane tanks and is required by law in some states. (Read Paint Enamel Over Acrylic)
Propane Tank Safety Guidelines
Propane is a flammable gas used for cooking and heating purposes. However, propane tank safety is paramount, as improper handling or storage of propane tanks can cause leaks, fires, or explosions if gas continues to flow, especially if you have the valve open and use it as a regulator.
Here are some propane tank safety guidelines you should follow to ensure propane’s safe and efficient use.
1. Always keep your valve closed:
A propane tank valve needs to be completely closed when not in use. This means turning the valve until it won’t close anymore. This prevents propane from escaping from the tank or the hose, which can cause a leak or a fire.
To clear excess gas out of the line, keep any burners or devices running while you close the valve, then turn off the burners or devices when they turn off.
2. Keep the tank upright:
Propane weighs more than air, so it will naturally settle to the bottom of the propane tank. Keeping a propane tank upright always ensures that the propane flows properly from the tank to the hose and regulator and that the valve works correctly.
Propane can leak from the valve, the connection, or the regulator if a propane tank is on its side. This can cause a fire hazard or a waste of propane.
3. Store your tank outdoors:
Propane tanks must be stored outdoors and kept in a well-ventilated area, away from any sources of heat or ignition. This is because propane can accumulate in the air and ignite if there is a leak or a spark. If stored indoors, propane can linger in the air and create a dangerous situation.
Storing a propane tank outdoors guarantees that any propane vapors will disperse in the air and not build up and ignite.
4. Keep out of direct sunlight:
Propane tanks should not be exposed to direct sunlight, as sunlight can heat the tank and cause the pressure inside the tank to increase. Increased pressure can cause the tank to vent propane into the air, which can ignite a spark or a flame.
Some propane tanks have valves with safety relief features that allow the tank to vent propane when the pressure is too high, but this is still a waste of propane and a fire hazard. (Read Gap Between Baseboard And Floor)
Inspect the Hose and Pressure Regulator
A gas tank can leak even if you take extreme precautions. Propane can escape and reach the atmosphere, where it can be smelled when a regulator or hose sustains even minimal damage. Similar to rotting eggs, propane smells strongly like sulfur. If you smell a leak, you must check your regulator and hose right away.
Use the steps below to inspect your pressure regulator and hose for leaks:
- The outside of the regulator and hose should be generously covered with soapy water or a leak detector.
- Check for bubbles when you open a propane tank valve all the way since they indicate propane tank leaks.
- If bubbles start to emerge, immediately shut the propane valve.
- Replace the hose or the regulator, depending on where the bubbles are.
Wait Before Re-lighting a Grill
It is common practice to turn on a grill and leave it to preheat to the ideal grilling temperature. Don’t light a grill immediately if you leave it to preheat and it turns off because that could be a fire hazard. Turn off the propane gas tank, and leave the grill unlit for five to ten minutes.
Open all the windows and doors if the grill is in a confined area. Leave the lid open if one is included with the grill. The propane is still seeping through the burners from the tank despite the flames being extinguished. Within the grill and around the grilling area, propane gas builds up.
Relighting the grill immediately runs the risk of igniting the collected propane gas, which could result in an explosion or fire. You can safely fire the grills and continue grilling once 10 minutes have passed.
Should You Turn Off Propane Tanks After Use?
Turn off the propane tank after grilling for safety. Turning off the grill does not stop LPG gas from the cylinder from flowing through its burners. Instead, the gas flows until it fills the tubing, preventing the gas cylinder.
- If the regulator and tubing operate, leaving the propane tank is safe. Turn off the gas to be on the safe side.
- A tiny propane leak from the hose or regulator could empty the tank. The wind will slowly deplete the gas tank if the grill is outdoors.
- If the grill and tank are enclosed, gas could slowly collect and start a fire. LPG doesn’t float because it’s heavier than air.
- A lit cigarette or static can ignite the gas, triggering an explosion or fire. The gas can explode even when you’re not grilling.
- If the regulator on a closed grill fails, gas will collect within and could explode the next time you turn it on.
How To Open Propane Tank?
The propane tank valve operates according to the old rhyme: righty tighty, lefty loosey. Propane tanks typically have arrows that let you know which way to turn them for opening and closing—counterclockwise or to the left, clockwise or to the right.
A standard tank is filled with liquid propane using a unique device that uses pressure to pressurize propane gas into the tank, putting it into a liquid state. It is under pressure in the tank until the valve is opened. Turning the valve lowers the pressure, which causes the gas to vaporize and exit through the aperture.
Under a specific pressure set by the size of the valve, the propane gas is permitted to escape the canister. There are numerous valves and gauges on large commercial propane tanks. Fill valves to refuel the tank, a service valve to release propane, and a relief valve are the three main valves. The relief valve stops the tank from exploding from too much pressure building up within.
A float gauge and a vapor recovery valve are both tanks’ features that can discharge extra vapor when the tanks are being repaired. Tanks also contain gauges that measure the level of liquid inside them. To stop leaks, the tanks are frequently sealed quite firmly. Try using a wrench or a pair of pliers if your propane tank won’t open after the first time you bring it home.
When you open your valves all the way, turn it back a quarter turn so it won’t stick in the fully opened position. (Learn How Deep Are Electric Lines Buried)
Why A Propane Tank Valve Might Get Stuck
Before fixing a propane safety valve, find the source of the obstruction (or any other tank valve). You can use this information to determine the appropriate steps to address the issue.
Propane tank valves stick because of the following:
- Rust or corrosion
- Tightened all the way with too much pressure
- External object stopping the valve opening
How To Prevent Propane Tank Valve Getting Stuck
You can take a few easy steps to prevent a propane tank valve from dislodging to save yourself the hassle.
- Don’t tighten the valve’s twisting motion.
- Smack the bottom of the tank on the ground once or twice after purchasing or filling your old tank. The valve will become looser, making it simpler to open.
- A new cylinder’s valve shouldn’t be opened quickly because doing so may cause it to jam the following time.
Troubleshooting A Propane Tank
Run into some emergency leakage trouble with your propane tank? Try these solutions for an easy fix.
Propane Tank Valve Leak Repair:
You probably need a new valve if your propane tank leaks when fully open.
- Spraying soapy water at the valve, connection point, and pipes will help you locate the leak’s source.
- The gasket is cracked, and the valve has to be replaced if you notice bubbles at the valve or connection.
Clogged Propane Line:
- Soak the hose in warm, soapy water for a few minutes to clean it. Dissolve oil and dirt with grease-cutting dish soap.
- Rinse and dry the hose under running water.
Unexpected Propane Leaks:
Turning off the propane tank is your best option if the hose or valve isn’t the cause of the leaks.
- The service or shut-off valve is the metallic dial that resembles a spigot and is attached to the top of the tank behind the tank lid.
- In an emergency or a leak, you must use this valve to turn the gas off at the tank.
- To turn off the gas, so it is completely closed, turn this valve all the way clockwise.
Propane Tank Safety Valve Reset:
These steps should be followed to reset your propane tank:
- Disconnect your propane tank from the stove or grill and turn it off.
- To the highest setting possible, turn the gas valves on the grill or stove.
- Turn all the gas valves on the grill setting to the OFF position.
- Reconnect the propane tank to the appliance, then turn the valve setting to the ON position.
- Your propane tank’s safety valve is essentially reset after this procedure, so you should only use it as necessary.