1. #1

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    Default Leaking bbq propane tank, WWYD

    Hello Firefighters,

    I was in the middle of grilling some food when my tank went out. luckily I had a spare, but when I went to switch them out I heard a hissing sound on the second one when I hooked it up, there was a leak on the side weld of the tank.

    The label on the tank said to get away and call the fire department (I'm a little cautious now due to a previous house fire). So I did and they said they would come out.

    Long story short, after about 20 minutes of the first crew being there the chief came out and picked it up and said it was "empty". He said just take it to where I bought it. After they left I weighed the tanks with a fisherman's scale and there is a 7 pound difference. That is about a 1/3 of a tank left.

    Should I be concerned? was I being overly cautious. I really don't want to transport a leaking tank back to the store, or is this okay to do?

    Thank you for reading this, your comments, and your service to your community. Your colleagues saved my family 3 years ago.

  2. #2
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    GTRider245's Avatar
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    You did the right thing. Move it away from the house into open air and call the fire department.
    Career Firefighter
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    I don't mind fire rolling over my head. I just don't like it rolling UNDER my a**.

  3. #3
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    Probably a good idea to open the valve as well. Try to transport in an open top vehicle, truck or trailer

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    Opening the valve on a modern (OPD) cylinder won't do much. It won't flow anything without something screwed into the outlet.

    No way I'm putting a compromised tank that's not empty in any vehicle I'm driving (open or otherwise).

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    "IF" the leak was on the tank itself and not associated with the valve assembly then the tank should be empty as it is vented to the outside atmosphere. The weight difference could be in tank construction, age, manufacturer, faulty scale, etc. You can check the product level by pouring warm water over the container and watching for the condensation level. Where condensation forms is the level of product in the tank. If your not comfortable doing this call the company that filled the tank and report the problem, they may come and pick it up. Another option would be to call a local home delivery company and see if they can help.

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    What everyone else said. Call the Fire Department and if it's direct venting through the tank and not the valve it should have equalized the pressure and the difference in weight is probably due to construction.

    Me...light a match and watch the fun. *grin* Just kidding.
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    Let this be a lesson learned... when swapping out tanks, check the connections for leakage with a soapy water solution. If it is "bubbling", you have to tighten the connection!
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    Gonz,You MIGHT want to REREAD post 1.Leaking WELD not valve.Duck and cover! T.C.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlcooke3 View Post
    "IF" the leak was on the tank itself and not associated with the valve assembly then the tank should be empty as it is vented to the outside atmosphere.
    This is the only part of your post I do not agree with. Assuming the leak is in the vapor space of the tank, it may just leak until the point of auto-refrigeration. The leak itself would stop, but product could remain in the tank.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
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    If it was a faulty weld on the side of the tank, wouldn't it be leaking before it was hooked up and continue leaking until empty?

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    Duck and cover is right if it is leaking liquid from any opening. Propane is a polar molicule and when passing through an opening in the liquid state, it tends to generate a static charge. F.C. has been called for auto ignition of the old style tanks when lying down and venting liquid out the valve. It is usually a little hairy since several times it occurred at the distribution center where lots of other tanks are stored both full and "empty". If it was a split seam, it is highly unlikely that any liquid remains in the tank. Hope everyone on here is aware of the fiberglass tanks that are now coming into use for the small cylinder market.

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    You did good. It's never wrong to err on the side of caution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    If it was a faulty weld on the side of the tank, wouldn't it be leaking before it was hooked up and continue leaking until empty?
    Last summer we had a tank doing just that! I was driving by the house when we were dispatched so my arrival time was like 32 seconds. The tank was NOT leaking at all. I was downgrading and returning units when I thought i heard a hissing noise again. Couldn't find anything and I didn't hear it anymore. Walking away, hisssssss again. WTF! After tearing the label off the tank, there was a rusted weld. Moving the tank around made the leak open and close.

    Opened the valve and screwed in a vent. Bled the tank down. Had the homeowner take the BLUE RHINO piece of junk back to the store and demand a refund.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rescue101 View Post
    Gonz,You MIGHT want to REREAD post 1.Leaking WELD not valve.Duck and cover! T.C.

    Ooops! I took a ten minute break while detailing a Toyota Tacoma this afternoon and rushed through the forum
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    I figgered it was PRE coffee.Advice was spot on,'CEPT........Wrong area leaking! hehe T.C.

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    Hi Steve !
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    Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
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    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Quote Originally Posted by nmfire View Post
    After tearing the label off the tank, there was a rusted weld. Moving the tank around made the leak open and close.

    Opened the valve and screwed in a vent. Bled the tank down. Had the homeowner take the BLUE RHINO piece of junk back to the store and demand a refund.
    You know, that just happened to me last month, and it was a Blue Rhino tank as well!! Maybe they got cheap Chinese steel?? LOL

    First of all......you did the right thing, ALWAYS error on the side of caution and safety.

    I did what nmfire did with this tank, I screwed in the valve and let it vent off via the grill, I turned on the burners and vented it off that way. The weld had a small crack in it. When the homeowner moved the grill out it started leaking. It was just enough to let some pressure out, but then the weather was warm and caused the tank to expand just enough to seal the leak again.

    I vented the tank for him and told him to take it back for a refund and to always check the welds from now on.

    Glad nothing got damaged or no one got hurt.
    Jason Knecht
    Assistant Chief
    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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    Default Good job!

    Great job on calling the fire department, too many people aren't afraid of propane because they're around it so often grilling.

    CaptainGonzo's solution, though the original was meant for the valve, also works on the sides of the cylinder if it's a leak you can't see or hear. Just mix a few drops of dishwater soap into a bottle (preferably one with a small orifice so you can get a small stream to spray the side) with water.

    Venting the cylinder outside in your yard is probably your safest bet. Depending on the type of cylinder you're using, this may not be possible, and I believe Blue Rhino cylinders won't vent without the attachment. I'd try venting through the grill as recommended. Blue Rhino (and other companies I've heard of doing propane fills) have even dropped their initial fills to 15 lbs, so that's even more than a third full!

    The best option in my eyes, AFTER calling the fire department as you've done, is to call Blue Rhino (1.800.BLU.RINO) and talk to their customer service department (obviously if it's not a POS Blue Rhino, call the customer service of whatever company it was). They'd don't usually do pickups, but if you let them know you're upset with the safety of their product and let them know it is a side weld issue, they should take care of it. A friend of mine had a similar issue, and they sent someone out with a replacement after he explained how upset he was at the prospect of having to transport a potentially dangerous cylinder in his car.

    Don't EVER transport a potentially leaking cylinder in your car or truck. Whatever company is buying their 221 cylinders from a cheap company with these bogus welds should be paying for it by picking it up.

    James

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    Hello! I would like to remember that even if all the liquid phase has vaporized and the internal pressure has equalized the external one ( so no more leaking) the tank would not be empty or full of air, but full of propane at ambient pressure or if the leak is big enough of propane and air...so be judgefull and do not do easy silly thing, and do not expose it to heat or flame source. Dispose it in the right way.
    In my country there had been a serious incident ( 1 fatality) as one guy tried to weld the tank that was "empty", while actually was full of propane and air inside the flammability limits...

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