How to Dispose of Propane Tanks

Every propane user should know how to dispose of their gas tanks properly. If a propane tank is still usable, you can recycle itā€”sometimes for money. On the other hand, every propane tank, cylinder, or bottle will eventually approach the end of its usable life. Portable propane tanks, such as bottles and cylinders, typically reach this threshold before fixed bulk tanks. So, what are the available options for getting rid of a propane tank?

How Can I Safely Dispose of My Propane Tank?

safe propane disposal

Propane is a flammable substance. Because an old propane tank is considered toxic waste, most collection and recycling facilities would not accept it. As a result, disposing of a propane tank is more difficult than tossing a pizza box from last night’s dinner. However, here are ways you can do it efficiently.

1. Swap a Depleted Propane Tank with a New One

A good-conditioned old propane tank can be swapped at an authorized store, where you can deposit your empty tank and receive a full tank. Outside of neighborhood and chain home improvement stores, petrol stations, and convenience stores, several propane supplier businesses have exchange depots. Many of these depots are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are self-serve. 

You may be required to pay a fee at the store or kiosk, depending on the location and supplier. The empty tank will be kept at the depot, while a full tank of equivalent size will go home with you, depending on the firm and region.

2. Take Your Tank to a Special-Purpose Recycling Facility.

A conventional recycling center will not accept tanks that have passed their expiration date, are broken, rusted, or are otherwise unusable. Because of the possibility of residual propane remaining inside the tank, they are a safety hazard. They can, however, take their old propane tanks to a specialist recycling facility that has the equipment and people qualified to completely drain them.

Call a local propane provider if you don’t know where to look for a specialist recycling site. They can usually point you in the right direction for hazardous waste disposal, such as an old gas cylinder. On government websites, you can find information on where and how to dispose of old tanks. Do not try to smuggle a propane tank into your ordinary recycling or trash, since residual propane can explode or ignite when exposed to extreme heat.

Visit earth911.com to find a recycling center near you.

3. To Dispose of Large Tanks, Contact Your Local Propane Provider.

The recycling of large permanent tanks necessitates greater support. In this situation, you should contact a propane provider in your area. They have the appropriate equipment to uninstall, dispose of, and replace big domestic propane tanks in a safe manner. Suppliers can check the tank and give an evaluation of its condition if you’re not sure if it needs to be replaced.

You can also check how to dispose of other hazardous kitchen appliances, like your microwave, in our guide on How to Dispose of Microwave.

4. Transport Mini Propane Tanks to a Toxic Waste Disposal Facility

Mini Propane Tank Disposal

Consider propane bottles or tiny tanks, such as those used by campers as a mini version of a bigger tank, if you’re not certain how to get rid of them. It may be little, but it nevertheless has the potential to hold hazardous leftover propane.

Take them to a toxic waste collection center when they’re no longer functional. A propane provider, recycling center, garbage disposal service, or hardware store could be able to point you in the right direction or give you further information on how to discard a propane tank.

5. Take Your Tanks to a Scrap Metal Yard If You Run Out Of Options

If you can’t transport your depleted tank to a garbage collection center or refill it, your best option is to take it to a scrap metal yard. Most scrap yards will accept an empty propane tank, but phone ahead to be sure yours will be accepted before bringing it in. 

Are Empty Propane Tanks Allowed on Your Property?

Are Empty Propane Tanks Allowed on Your Property

You can store old propane tanks on your premises, but it’s better to send them to a propane provider to dispose of them if you don’t think you’ll use them again. If you do decide to keep an emptied tank, try to follow these safety precautions.

It shouldn’t be kept indoors

Even if your propane tank is empty, don’t leave it inside. If the gas began to leak, it might quickly fill the enclosed space and create a dangerous situation. Keep the tank in a dry, well-ventilated area outside.

Maintain the proper temperature

In the winter, keep your tank below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the summer, keep it over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This leads to a build-up of pressure inside of the tank, which could also lead to leaks.

It’s also not a good idea to keep your tank under direct sunlight because it can overheat. Make every effort to place it in a shady spot, and if you don’t have any in your yard, consider creating some.

Ascertain that it remains upright.

Even if your tank is completely empty, there may be traces of gas remaining. As a result, the tank should never be stored on its side or upturned. Always keep the propane tank standing up, and if you need to, use something like a milk carton to keep it from falling over.

Close the gas valve

Make sure the gas valve is turned off. If you don’t do this, the propane will be released into the air. This will not only stink bad, but it may also pose a safety hazard.

Keep it away from anything flammable.

Even if the tank is empty, keep it away from anything that could cause it to catch fire. This means you must keep it far from lighters, barbecues,  fire pits, candles, and other potentially flammable items. If you’re not careful, a minor mishap can result in a major disaster.

Propane Tanks Can Be Made to Last Longer with Proper Care

Propane tanks, with proper maintenance, can survive for years. Do the following to prolong the tank’s life:

Look for any leaks. Leaks indicate that the tank’s valve isn’t completely closed and that the tank is about to fail. Pour lukewarm, soapy water over the top of the tank, hose, and valve to check for leaks. If there is a leak, bubbles will appear in the soapy liquid.

Make sure the propane tank is full. Pour hot water over the cylinder to check propane levels, being sure to secure the top area. Then run your palm down the length of the tank. It should be warm to the touch unless you find a chilly patch or a temperature difference. The approximate propane level is the first place where the cylinder feels cool. Use a gas gauge for more precise measurements.

Inspect dials, valves, and indicators on a regular basis. Any type of broken valves, dials, or controls can make the tanks dangerous. You should get rid of the tank if you notice and broken part. 

Store it outside, but in a well-ventilated location, under a cover. Propane tanks should never be kept inside the house. They must be stored outdoors, under cover, in a well-ventilated location to avoid harmful gas build-up in the case of a leak.

Watch closely for any corrosion, soot, or kinks. If there is soot on the tank or any appliance it is fueling, the tank isn’t working properly. Corrosion on the tank, as well as kinks in the gas lines, might be dangerous. If you detect one of these problems, call a propane supplier for information on how to continue.

We have also put together a few articles to help you dispose of car components properly, you might want to see How to Dispose of Motor Oil and How to Dispose of Coolant.

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