Age of propane tank

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Old 05-02-09, 07:09 AM
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Age of propane tank

I have a 500 gallon underground propane tank that has been in place for about 10-12 years. I am contemplating purchasing this tank instead of continuing to pay rent on it. Does anyone have an idea as to the average life of an underground tank?

Many thanks.
 
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Old 05-02-09, 09:02 AM
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I'm not an expert on this, but a quick search confirmed my concerns. Request an inspection and verify with your local code enforcement that they are still acceptable. I know some areas no longer allow them to be under ground so a change in ownership might trigger them to be moved above. Again not a pro here.

Bud
 
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Old 05-02-09, 09:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Bud9051 View Post
I'm not an expert on this, but a quick search confirmed my concerns. Request an inspection and verify with your local code enforcement that they are still acceptable. I know some areas no longer allow them to be under ground so a change in ownership might trigger them to be moved above. Again not a pro here.

Bud
No problem with underground propane tanks in my area.
 
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Old 05-02-09, 09:25 AM
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I used to do corrosion control work for a natural gas utility. That gave me experience in protecting underground steel gas mains, and a good deal of respect for what's involved.

A tank of propane is a potential bomb sitting next to your house. Amonf the most dangerous kinds of gas leaks are underground leaks that can flood basements and crawl spaces with gas, just waiting to blow a house off its foundation. I imagine that propane is much more of a risk in that regard because it's heavier than air, while natural gas tends to rise and disperse.

I don't really know about the risks of underground propane tanks. I would suppose that at a minimum they need corrosion control protection monitored and maintained, as is the case with steel gas mains and service. Whether you get that service provided by knowledgable people from a proane supplier would be an interesting question.

Personally, I'd have a definite bias towards avoiding underground propane tanks. I'd be concerned about the risks of leaks and the hazards from those leaks. Above ground tanks very likely have only a small part of the risks of buried tanks.
 
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Old 05-02-09, 11:15 AM
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As said, an underground tank carries a high liability.
If you were to own it the liability would be yours.

What are the rental fees on the tank?
They could be a bargain if you consider the maintenance costs.
 
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Old 05-02-09, 02:42 PM
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Underground LP tank

Burried tanks must be protected with anodes & depending upon the soil conditions in your area the anodes could be gone. I agree with the others about underground tanks in general. If you want to buy a tank, tell your gas supplier to come get his underground tank then install one above ground.
 
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Old 05-03-09, 09:08 AM
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GregH,

The rental cost is the increased cost of propane that I pay. The last time I checked it was 92 cents per gallon. I use about 400-500 gallons per year so the annual cost is rather substantial.

I have to admit that I know little about the issues of these tanks. Since I purchased this home four years ago there have been no maintenance issues or costs associated with the tank. What should I anticipate the costs should be?

Grady,
I started out taking the position you advocate but the gas supplier who owns the tank says I have to remove the tank from the ground and then they will come and get it. Not at all sure why that is my responsibility and I have to wonder what would happen if I just stopped ordering from them. It seems like at some point they would come get their tank.

All,

Help understand the liability issues. The tank is a good 50 feet from the home.
 
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Old 05-03-09, 10:57 AM
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When the tank was installed the details about who was responsible for the tank and removal should have been spelled out. If you received nothing at the closing transferring ownership or responsibility to you, then you need to know who is responsible. It may be a low probability that something will happen, but without knowing, what are you expected to do, just wait until something happens?? And if it does, who takes care of it. It seems logical that it will eventually fail, are you responsible for annual inspections, are you supposed to have it listed on your home owners policy, do they even know about it? The gas company is the expert and they must be forth coming with the safe life span, inspection requirements and a signed document stating who does what. If they will not cooperate, I bet a call to the PUC will get their attention.

A friend owned a property that had a gas station on it. He sold the station and a few years later they discovered ground contamination and the costs were going to be in the 6 figures. When they went after my friend he produced a signed document transferring ownership and responsibility to the new owner for one dollar. Make sure all of that paperwork you signed at closing didn't say something about the tank.

I think your risk is low, but since it is on your plate, time to get answers.
Good Luck
Bud
 
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Old 05-03-09, 10:59 AM
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If you are renting the tank from them they should have ownership of it.........this is why you rent in the first place.

When maintenance is mentioned in relation to this tank because you have not had to have it serviced doesn't mean there won't be any future costs.
With any type of buried tank the greatest item of concern is removal but a bigger one is remediation of an environmental incident or fire that results from a tank failure.

I would suggest that you first get a copy of your rental agreement, read it and give it to a lawyer for an opinion on anything that is not clear.
I would also visit your insurance company and get a written opinion as to what they would cover if any of the above calamities occurred.

To give you another option you should check with another supplier for quote on what they would charge to bring in a surface tank and supply you.
 
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Old 05-03-09, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by GregH View Post
If you are renting the tank from them they should have ownership of it.........this is why you rent in the first place.

When maintenance is mentioned in relation to this tank because you have not had to have it serviced doesn't mean there won't be any future costs.
With any type of buried tank the greatest item of concern is removal but a bigger one is remediation of an environmental incident or fire that results from a tank failure.

I would suggest that you first get a copy of your rental agreement, read it and give it to a lawyer for an opinion on anything that is not clear.
I would also visit your insurance company and get a written opinion as to what they would cover if any of the above calamities occurred.

To give you another option you should check with another supplier for quote on what they would charge to bring in a surface tank and supply you.
I am currently getting quotes. So far the price from the company that owns the tank for me to purchase it is the best, but of course that is now a used tank and there is no installation costs. Thus the reason for the original question as to how long can I expect that tank to last.

When I purchased the home I did have the rental on the tank transferred to me. I will have to dig up that paper work.

Thanks for enlightening me on the issues that I should be considering.
 
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Old 05-03-09, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mchild View Post

All,

Help understand the liability issues. The tank is a good 50 feet from the home.


Underground natural gas leaks can travel for blocks and be hazardous. Those that result in explosions are carefully investigated, and there have been occasions where one good leak blew several houses of their foundations over a range of blocks.


So offhand, I'd say you tank fifty feet away is a significant potential hazard should a leak develop.
 
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