Over time, every propane tank is susceptible to leaks. Understanding this risk is important, because an errant spark or flame around a propane leak can be devastating. Luckily, there are a few ways that you can spot a propane gas leak, even without hooking up leak testing equipment. Here's a look at some ways to help you identify and address a gas leak safely.
Trust Your Ears
Sometimes, a leaking propane tank will give you an audible sign of the leak in the form of a hissing noise. In many cases, that hissing sound will seem to get louder as you get closer to the tank. If it's the result of a gas leak, the noise is created by the pressure of the gas forcing its way through whatever opening it may be. Before you assume that a leak is to blame for this type of sound, though, rule out other problems.
Check the Bleeder Valve
Every time propane is added to the tank, the bleeder valve must be opened. If it isn't closed all the way after the delivery, you're going to have a leak. And, since it's a small valve, you may hear some hissing from it. To rule out the bleeder valve, turn it clockwise to make sure that it's closed all the way.
Inspect the Pressure Relief Valve
Another valve that could be to blame for the hissing sound is the relief valve. This valve is designed to help keep pressure under control inside the tank. If it's hot outside and you have intense sunlight bearing down on a full fuel tank, the heat can cause some pressure buildup. Check the relief valve. If it's open, you'll see that the protective cap isn't sitting over it anymore. Don't look inside or touch the relief valve. Instead consider cooling the tank down with your garden hose, because this can cool the contents of the tank and ease the internal pressure.
Checking Fittings for Leaks
If you've ruled out the valves as the source of the problem, you can test the gas line fittings to see if one might be loose. One of the most efficient ways to do this without a leak testing kit is to create a solution of dishwashing detergent and water. Liquid dishwashing detergent bubbles in the presence of a leak. Put the mixture in a spray bottle, then set the spray nozzle to the stream setting. Spray each of the fittings and fixtures, then watch for bubbles. If you see bubbles, you've got a leak and you need to have it repaired right away.
Safety is paramount any time you're dealing with propane. Understanding how to spot a leak can save you from the disaster that an undetected leak can cause. Make sure you address propane leaks immediately, turning off the fuel if necessary until your gas company like Eastern Petroleum Corporation can come out.