How to tell if your propane tank is expired and what to do next
Propane tanks are incredibly resilient, built to safely contain liquid propane gas stored under pressure while also standing up to extreme weather and elements. But even the sturdiest tank has a shelf life, and as such must be periodically reviewed and inspected.
How long are propane tanks good for?
In the United States, a bottle is qualified for 12 years from the date of manufacture, while in Canada it’s good for 10 years. A recertified tank is good for 5, 7, or 12 years, depending on the method and type of recertification.
How to tell if your propane tank is expired
The simplest way is to inspect the collar or handle area of your propane tank. This won’t give you a direct answer to the question “when do propane tanks expire?” but it will tell you when the tank was manufactured or last certified. That, with a little background information, can help you determine how much useful life remains, or whether it’s time to requalify your tank.
If you're still looking for guidance or need a visual, follow this link to find a video on this very topic.
How to read the markings on a propane tank
Near the handle, you’ll find a series of stamped markings. These provide important information about your tank’s origination and capacity rating. A date should appear on the handle, near the valve indicating the manufacture date. It most often reads in a standard Month-Year format. So if your tank was built in June of 2020, it would read “06-20.”
Each tank also comes stamped with a unique identification, similar to those stamped onto vehicles. This helps the United States Department of Transportation and propane dealers to effectively track and keep safety records for each tank in circulation.
Additional markings indicate the empty weight of the cylinder, listed as “TW.” This is helpful if you want to weigh the tank to gauge how much propane is left available for use. The stamp “WC” indicates the water storage capacity, which helps dealers know the precise amount of propane that can be safely stored inside the tank.
It’s also not uncommon to see a requalifier’s identification stamped into the handle area of your tank. Once you know the manufacture or recertification date, you’ll be able to determine how close the tank is to reaching its expiration date.
Propane Tank Markings Overview
How to determine a propane tank’s recertification date
A propane tank’s recertification date is most often indicated by a letter instead of numbers. The letters A, B, C, and D, correspond with a quarter of the calendar year. The letter “A” would mean the tank had been recertified in January, February, or March, followed by the two numbers of the year. In this case, a tank stamped with “A 20” would indicate the first quarter of 2020. Additional letters indicate the type of recertification, which helps determine the frequency of follow up inspections.
Of course, if you notice evidence of damage or excessive wear, such as dents, bulges, or cracks, or if you notice the valve isn’t working correctly, take the tank to your local Ferrellgas dealer for inspection. Although these tanks are certified for 10-12 years of use, misuse or neglect can shorten their useful life.
What should you do if your propane tank is expired
If you have an expired tank or a tank nearing its expiration date, all you need to do is exchange for a fresh Blue Rhino tank the next time you need gas. Blue Rhino takes care of qualifications for you. Find a Blue Rhino location near you here. Otherwise, you'll need to find a qualified service technician trained to properly inspect and qualify a tank.
Stay safe and periodically check your tank’s expiration date
Understanding these often unnoticed markings will help you know when to exchange your tank at any of the thousands of Blue Rhino tank exchange locations nationwide. You'll also feel comfortable knowing that your tank has been inspected and deemed safe according to the highest industry standards. Please note that any unwanted tanks can also be dropped off at any Ferrellgas location or next to the cage at any Blue Rhino exchange location.