What Are Propane Tank Safety Relief Valves?

Written on: April 12, 2021

A Propane Safety Lesson

propane safety valve new york

If you have propane in your Hudson Valley home, you know all the great things it does for your quality of life.

But how much do you know about your home’s propane system, specifically, your propane tank? You should learn about your propane tank, as well as propane safety.

We’ll get started with that learning by discussing your propane tank’s safety relief valve.

How Do Propane Tank Safety Relief Valves Work?

All propane tanks, including the cylinders you use for your BBQ grill or firepit, are required by law to have pressure relief devices that allow for the release of excess pressure inside the tank.

The safety relief valve is designed to protect your propane tank from rupturing in case excess pressure builds up in the tank.

Other names for safety relief valves are pop-off valves, relief valves, or pressure venting valves.

A strong spring keeps the safety relief valve closed as long as the pressure inside the tank is at a safe level. If the pressure in the tank reaches the same amount of pressure of the spring, the safety relief valve is opened. If that happens, you’ll hear a hissing sound coming from the tank as pressure is dissipated. In instances where the pressure in the tank is much higher than that of the spring, the valve will fully open. You’ll hear a pop if that occurs.

Once the pressure is down below the pressure of the spring, the valve closes on its own. If the valve pops open, it may be replaced. However, this is a job for a professional. DO NOT try to fix or replace it on your own. Contact us for assistance.

What Causes Pressure To Build Up In A Propane Tank?

Propane is a liquid, and it does what liquids do: expand in the heat. However, propane’s expansion is 17 times greater than water.

There needs to be room inside your propane tank to accommodate such a large amount of expansion. That is the reason your propane tank is filled to 80% of its capacity and not to 100%. For example, a 500-gallon propane tank is filled to 400 gallons. The 20% of the tank that is empty space allows the propane to safely expand.

Expansion is why propane tanks are painted white or beige. Light colors reflect heat away from your tank, minimizing how much the propane in there will expand. Dark colors, on the other hand, retain heat. That much retained heat can cause the propane inside your tank to expand to dangerous levels.
While you may not like the look of a white or beige propane tank with your home or landscaping, don’t paint it a darker color.

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