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How to Move a Propane Tank

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You can't move propane tanks--that's what most moving companies will tell you. Transporting a tank of pressurized flammable material assumes more risk than most movers are willing to take. But you can still move a small propane tank in your own personal vehicle if you keep safety in mind. 

Why movers won't move propane tanks

You will probably never find a moving company willing to move propane tanks, even if they are empty. This is because conditions in a moving truck that can lead to minor damage for most items, can lead to fiery explosions with propane tanks. Movement, heat, and sunlight all can lead to catastrophic accidents.

It is one thing for a moving company to risk damaging your items during a move and having to pay you if you got replacement value protection, but it is another thing altogether to risk the entire shipment and moving truck being blown up due to a bumpy ride, an unforeseen leak, or hot conditions.

Alternatives to moving propane tanks yourself

  • You could simply leave your tank behind and buy a new one at your new home.
  • Some stores have discounts for turning in tanks at one location and buying a new one after you move to a new place.
  • Propane companies that move 500 gallon tanks of propane may also move your small grill-sized tank, but the cost of their services is usually more expensive than buying a new tank. Some companies may deliver you a new propane tank if you buy from them.
  • If you do have a 500 gallon propane tank, you should always call a company rather than trying to tow the tank yourself.

Moving and handling your propane tank safely

If your move is not terribly long, there is no reason why transporting a propane tank in your car for a move is any different than the necessary trips for buying and filling tanks. You just need to be careful and keep the following safety guidelines in mind.
  • Always store propane tanks outdoors. Even if you go to a filling station, leave the tank outside when entering the building. The refilling station is always going to be away from the main building. A small gas leak of such a flammable gas could be enough to cause problems in any enclosed area.
  • Wash your tank in soapy water. This isn't so much about cleaning as it is about detecting possible leaks. Bubbles will form anywhere where propane is leaking.
  • Leaks can also be detected by the distinctive egg/flatulence smell of propane.
  • If there is any defection or broken part of the tank, leave it outside, don't attempt to move or fix it, and call a propane expert. You should get it fixed even if you plan on not using the tank anymore since you don't want it leaking propane outside of your house unchecked.
  • Keep all open flames, including cigarettes, away from propane tanks, even if they appear to not be leaking.
  • Keep tanks upright and secure at all times. A rolling tank can break the safety valve and cause a propane leak. That can be especially dangerous if you are moving the tank in a car. A support base designed to keep the tank upright is a good investment.
  • After 10 years (in Canada, it's 12 in the US) propane tanks legally need to be re-certified by professionals for safety reasons.
  • Do not leave your tank in your car for an extended period of time. Even if it is securely upright, the heat from the sunlight and the movement of the car could build dangerous levels of pressure in the tank.
  • Use the soapy water test before and after moving the tank.
If you are careful and your trip is short, you can safely move a propane tank quite easily. Good luck and be safe!

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on October 16, 2014 - Moving Expert
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