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 for signs of weakness or deterioration. 

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. 

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

A tank nearing its expiration date will require recertification or be removed from circulation. A qualified service technician trained to property inspect and qualify tanks is required for this process. If your tank is nearing the expiration date, it’s best to swap it out for a new tank. The recertification process can cost anywhere from $35 to $60, while you’ll be able to exchange your old tank for a newer tank filled with propane. 

Stay safe and periodically check your tank’s expiration date

Understanding these often unnoticed markings will help you know when to exchange your tank for a newer model, and feel comfortable in the knowledge that your tank has been inspected and deemed safe by the highest industry standards. 

But if you ever have any questions or concerns about the safety of your tank, be sure to reach out to a Ferrellgas representative - who will be happy to provide the expertise and experience needed to prevent any unexpected issues. 

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