What to Do With a Propane Tank Leak
Industry consumes almost 63 percent of the propane used in the United States each year. That’s a lot of fuel hanging around a plant or warehouse in a storage tank and various pipes.
Whether you’re using it to power forklifts or furnaces, safety is always a concern with fuel storage. Even if you’re keeping up with regular maintenance, the occasional propane tank leak can happen. Following OSHA standards for the location and set-up of your tanks can reduce the risks posed by a leak, but you still want to take care of it as quickly as possible.
Plant managers also have to consider the cost of any downtime that results from shutting down a fuel system or other parts of the plant for safety reasons or repair work.
Let’s take a look at how to find a leak and how to deal with it.
Discovering a Propane Tank Leak
As with any gas leak, your nose is often the first to let you know there’s a potential leak. Propane has no smell naturally so manufacturers add a rotten-egg smell to it to help you know when there’s a problem. You can also put your ears to work since a propane leak sounds like a hiss or escaping air.
However, in the open space of a large warehouse or a plant with noisy equipment running, you can’t count on the smell or sound to point out a problem. A better option is to have monitoring equipment in place that will let you know if any propane or gas escapes. That detection equipment needs to be monitored at all times so you can respond quickly when there is a problem.
Testing the tank can involve applying a noncorrosive leak detection fluid to the gas supply valve or outlet connections, and look for bubbles when you open the valve. To test the piping system as well, pressure gauges are installed at various points. An increase in pressure can mean a leak at the service valve, while a decrease means a leak farther down the line.
Make the Repair
Once you’ve evacuated everyone from the facility, make sure there aren’t any open flames in the area that could ignite the gas. Contact your repair team, whether on-site staff or outside specialists. Outside experts are likely to have the most up-to-date equipment and techniques that can limit your downtime and speed up the fix.
Repairs are likely to be made to the tank or pipeline. Most leaks in propane tanks occur due to manufacturing defects or negligence like poor maintenance or improper installation. With pipelines, the problems are structural or manufacturing defects like weak metal, poorly welded joints, and stress fractures.
Act Quickly With a Leak
Once you’ve determined that there is a propane tank leak and the location, get repairs started as soon as possible to avoid safety and environmental concerns. A routine maintenance plan can help you guard against future issues by keeping your connectors, lines, and tanks are kept up to standards.
If you suspect you have a leak in a propane tank or gas line, contact us to take care of the leak ASAP. We use proprietary methods that keep your critical systems in operation while we make the repairs, allowing you to avoid costly downtime.