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Storing propane tank outside


#1

Howdy All,

A returning metalsmith herer again asking about torches.

I did my homework and finally decided to buy a Meco torch-- using
oxygen & propane. I was thrilled to see the cute little tanks that
came from Otto Frei-- until I went to fill the propane tank and was
warned not to keep the tank inside a building or enclosure.

The propane guys that filled the little tank up said that in case of
fire or explosion in my studio (which is a building in back of my
house), no insurance company would pay for damages–since the tank
would have been illegally stored.

I asked about storing the tank outside and running some kind of line
inside. The gents indicated that forced gas in town was also
verboten.

I’ve yet to hear of a jeweler soldering outside so I assume there
must be a way around this.

How does anyone insure their studios?

Thanks & Cheers,
Carol


#2

Carol,

My insurance does cover my use of a propane/oxygen torch in my house.
There are some conditions concerning doing this, I had my local Fire
Department do an assessment of my work area, they recommend that
besides placing a smoke detector in the area, I needed to have a 10
pound fire extinguisher within a reasonable distance. I have
installed the smoke detector and placed a 10 pound fire extinguisher
near my work bench. Plus I put in another Carbon Monoxide detector in
the same area.

Call you insurance agent and ask him/her what they require for you to
do this in your home.

Jerry


#3

Carol,

We use a flashback arrestor (stuller 14-0769-$32. bucks)and also a
very small disposable propane tank like the ones plumbers use- the
camp stove size.

The nice thing is you can get them anywhere. Then get yourself a
regulator from stuller 14-0420($49 bucks) for those disposable
tanks. We are two jewelers full time and run off the same tank. It
lasts for months! It runs directly off the pressure in the tank. The
only issue I have had is when at theend of the bottle I dont have
enough pressure for welding platinum-then I swap to a new bottle for
that pressure. Easy!I have friends who have had fire inspectors set
them up with this-its safe. I got rid of my big tank at my home
studio too. Ive been uising the same bottle at home forever.

Good luck-I know youll get a million responses-here they come!

Brent


#4

I have insurance on both home and studio. Regulations vary from
state to state and town to town. I suggest your not taking the gas
guy’s word and research it yourself. City gas (natural gas) is
generally safe and insurable and easy to have lines run to a shop by
a professional. Storing tanks outside if covered is acceptable.
However harbour Freight has a 17 dollar adapter that allows the user
to refill small disposable tanks like one buys at the hardware stores
from a standard 20 lb. propane tank. Sounds like the propane dealer
was trying to sell you a larger tank! When researching the
insurability of your studio (read your homeowner’s policy first),
don’t call the insurer and tell them you have a studio off the bat,
it may have negative and unexpected results no matter how long you
have been carried bu that company- Better to read the company’s
types of insurance on outbuildings and then go to your agent for
additional coverage if they offer it. the web can be a great place to
begin researching your company’s policies on outbuildings attached or
not attached to the manin dwelling…as most differ in that many
outbuildings are covered with different limits.

Gas is nothing to play around with. Propane collects low in a room
near electrical outlets, acetylene in the upper area near ceilings-
and light fixtures-It is wise to have all outlet terminals checked
for good connections (remove the plate and check the wiring for tape
coverage up to the terminal ends, etc., and have the light bulbs
screwed in thoroughly and switches inspected for arcing (a blue
flash when you turn it on or off in a dark room from behind the
outlet cover). I know a jeweler that has been in business for over
40 years in the same location. He uses both propane and
acetylene/MAPP. When turning on a light a few years ago his home
studio (he also has a business location) exploded from a slight leak
he had on an older acetylene tank. It did over 100,000.00 of damage
and he lost his homeowners coverage with the carrier he had for many
years (the company cited no knowledge of his studio within the home
as their reason for cancelling his policy). Things happen though
rarely. Never buy rusty tanks. Keep outdoor tanks covered and the
room/housing vented. Periodically check the tanks (use an
alternative to soap and water as it encourages rust). get in the
habit of turning off all gas and O2 tanks when leaving the room even
for a moment and you will not regret it later.

rer


#5

Brent, Thank you for your ideas on this problem. Wow those little
tanks last months?

It surprised me as the torch and tanks were sold by Otto Frei
specifically as a jeweler’s kit including the cute little 8 lb
propane tank. I just spent a tidy bundle on the set up so I may just
try to make it work.

I’m thinking It might be possible to set the tank outside, make a
hole in the glass (cover it with good ole tape or something to keep
it from hurting the hose) and run that hose to the soldering
station–a few feet. So the tank would be outside, and I guess the
regulator would have to be turned on every time. But at least it
would all be operational without any new expenses --or safety
hazards.

Though if there’s a freeze, might it be a problem?

Cheers,
Carol


#6

I probably don’t use my oxy/propane rig as often as many of you, so I
just keep both tanks outside and bring them in on a soldering day.
Living in a mild climate is very helpful here. In the meantime, if I
need a little quick heat I have several small butane or propane
torches that are legal inside. I do feel better having the big tanks
outside most of the time, and am willing to take the small risk of an
accident during the few hours the tanks are inside. Just pay
attention and keep fire extinguishers handy!

Allan Mason
www.silvermason.com


#7

Hi Carol,

I work in a retail jewelry store. The fire marshal here says we
cannot use any tank larger than a 14 oz propane tank that is used
for plumber’s torches. I had to get a regulator to fit, and have a
way to keep it upright and secure. The regulator is heavier than the
tank, and it won’t stand up by itself. I used a plastic wall holder
made for a fire extinguisher and screwed that to the side of a
cabinet, so that it sits on the floor out of the way, but is held
upright by the holder.

Make sure you get the skinny 14 oz. tank, not the Coleman tank for
stoves, which is fatter. It won’t fit the fire extinguisher holder.

I rarely work with silver, mostly gold and some platinum. A tank
lasts me about one to two months. I don’t cast in my shop either.
That
would use more propane.

It might be worth making an anonymous call to your fire department
to see if having that size of tank is acceptable.

Lauren


#8
Though if there's a freeze, might it be a problem? 

Propane shrinks in the cold and expands in the heat. The tanks have
a safety valve. If the propane EXPANDS and gets “too big for its
brithches” (over flows) the safety valve ALLOWS the propane to spew
out. Kind of like the safety valve on a steamer, if you ever had that
go off on you.

Outside “may” not be a problem, but I have not stored them outside
nor have an idea what might happen to the regulator if there is a
freeze.

But one thing I wanted to let you folks know is this (found it out
myself): If you have the tank filled IN THE COLD, the propane will
shrink and take up less room. So if the dealer fills it near the top,
in the cold, then when you bring the tank into the store, normal room
temperature will make the propane expand and the safety valve might
release the propane.

Had that happen ONCE, room started to fill up with propane an hour
after we got it filled. Nothing happened; we took it outdoors and let
it do its thing.

Have no thought of what would have happened if we had brought it in
30 minutes before we closed the store and it started to leak at 7pm.

After all of these years, the thought comes to my mind:

“Damn lucky”

David
David Geller
JewelerProfit
www.JewelerProfit.com


#9

There are many jewelers that use propane safely everyday, you do not
need to worry if used correctly. I have my tank outside and turn it
off everyday. Keep in mind how many homes in this country and others
have propane stoves and water heaters. Drill a hole in your wall run
the line and fill around it with caulk. Very easy.

Bill Wismar
www.metalbendersgallery.com


#10

Here’s a new question about storing propane (LP) gas cannister.

What if one hooked a hose to the release valve & just duck-taped the
heck out of it, and ran that hose outside.

Wouldn’t that alleviate the danger?

Cheers,
Carol


#11

In my case, I converted my garage to a workshop. I had the propane
in the shop. The floor is sloped toward the door and though I built a
wall, I did not calk new the floor. This allows any heavier than air
gas to naturally escape and not build up.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
JA Certified Master Benchjeweler
goldwerx.us


#12

I am a glass and jewelry designer by night and weekends and have been
watching this site for a couple years. During the day I am a gas
safety officer. I live in Canada but I am sure that there cannot be
to much difference between Canadian and US safety surrounding the
use of Propane or Natural Gas. First off using the one pound
disposable botttles indoors with a small torch is not in my opinion a
huge concern except for your insurance company and as long as the
bottle is stored outside they shouldn’t have much of a problem with
that. Contact them. In Canada we allow a small 5 pound refillable
bottle to be used indoors again stored outdoors when not in use. All
propane bottles are required to be filled not more than 80% of the
bottle capacity. This allows for the propane to expand. At minus 43 F
propane is a liquid that you could carry around in a bucket(not a
good practice) it begins to vapourize at -43 F and expands 270 its
volume from liquid to vapour. Under pressure inside the cylinder the
propane stays a liquid. It looks like water and fills the bottom 80%
of the cylinder. The propane in the tank vaporizes filling the top
20% with propane vapour. As the propane is used the liquid continues
to vapourize and fill the area above the liquid with vapour until
all the liquid is consumed and then it is time to refill the
cylinder. Consider a tank with 1 cubic foot of liquid propane in it
will expand to 270 cubic feet of propane vapour. It is the vapor
propane that is usable. If the cylinder was designed to be used in
the upright position (most are) and it was laid on its side then the
liquid would flow into the regulator(generally causing damage to the
diaphram in the regulator, time for a new regulator) and into the
hose to the torch. That will do damage to the regulator and the hose
and quite likely the torch as well. When you turn on the torch
you…Yes, the torch is now overfired by 270 times!!! Now that is
a flame!!!

If you want a more permanent installation then you will require a Gas
contractor to install a system for you. Propane is piped just like
natural gas for you furnace and water heater. However, you will
likely require a permit to do this installation and have it
inspected on completion Check with you local inspection authority for
the requirements in your area. If you are unsure how to contact them
call your building inspector, they will put you on the right track.
You don’t want to drill a hole in the wall and put the hose through
and putty it in. In event of a fire and on a fire investigation that
would be enough reason to deny your insurance claim. If you are
going to do it, do it right. You should have a proper 1st and 2nd
stage or combination 1st and 2nd stage regulator outside reducing the
propane pressure to about 14" water column before entering into the
house with steel piping and copper tubing is allowed in Canada, not
sure if or where in the USA it is allowed. We require a shut off
valve at the torch location and do not count on the valve on the
torch for protection. I have a ball valve approved for use with gas
on my set up. They work well and are a quarter turn to stut them off.
The biggest problem with small propane cylinders is they are easy to
overfill. The dispensing systems are sized to fill large cylinders
fast. The tank should be placed on a scale weighed and filled to
capacity of the particular cylinder. Human error while filling is
generally the problem however all of the new tanks have a stop fill
on the filler for the cylinder. This is identified by the acme
thread on the outside of the filler instead of the internal thread.
This has pretty much eliminated the overfilling. Keep the tank
upright and good luck.

Cheers
Ric Grant
www.wiredonglass.com


#13
if the dealer fills it near the top, in the cold, then when you
bring the tank into the store, normal room temperature will make
the propane expand and the safety valve might release the propane.
A couple of comments 

First, propane tanks outside are a standard thing out in rural areas
that don’t have city gas. BIG suckers, too.Second-- the above sounds
like a genuine hazard and a good warning, but dealers should be
filling tanks by weight not capacity, so should avoid overfilling.
Still, forewarned is forearmed!

Noel


#14

I’ll second Noel’s comment on rural areas having propane tanks
outside. I have a 1,000 gallon tank in my yard… that is a LOT of
propane folks! It sits there quite happily year round, and the gas
folks just love coming to fill it (I don’t love that at all :frowning: VERY
expensive any more!). I actually have it piped into my studio for
heat, but not for my soldering, as I was trained on a Prestolite
acetylene torch, and have kept using that.

Temps in my area sometimes drop into single digits, although that is
quite rare. Teens and twenties are our normal lows. Highs up into the
low hundreds. Neither extreme seems to bother the propane tank.

And in my very rural area there is no such thing as a building
inspector, or gas inspections, etc. You trust the gas company to do
it right. Life in the sticks… got to love it!

Beth in SC


#15

Ric, thanks for the detailed It still seems that if the
pressure release valve is the culprit-- why not just duct tape a
hose on it and pipe any potential releases outside?

CS


#16

I have a propane tank which I use with my grill. It stays outside
all year around with no problems. I wanted to be sure, so I googled
"Propane tanks storage," and each site advised me that there would be
no problem storing it outside. My concern was that it would be in
full sunshine part of the day, but again, I was assured that heat
would not be a problem.

However, inside my studio, I use Acetylene with my Prestolite torch,
and use every precaution to keep it safe.

Alma Rands


#17

I wouldn’t do that under any circumstances.

  1. It isn’t designed to have a hose attached so don’t do it.

  2. Do you know what size hose is large enough to adequately vent the
    propane outside under full tank pressure? I don’t because it wasn’t
    designed to have a hose attached.

  3. If the tank relief valve is leaking the cylinder has either been
    overfilled or the relief valve is weak.

  4. You are playing Russian Roulette with your home/studio do it
    right or do your torch work outside. Insurance companies now hire
    specialists to investigate fires. I most cases they can tell
    precisely where a fire originated even on complete burns. That can
    leave you with no insurance coverage and if you do not own the
    building the finacial responsibility to replace it. It is a lot
    cheaper to hire a professional to pipe it in properly and you will
    sleep better knowing that the job was done right.

Cheers
Ric Grant
www.wiredonglass.com


#18
It still seems that if the pressure release valve is the culprit--
why not just duct tape a hose on it and pipe any potential
releases outside? 

Maybe because this is not proffesional plumbing and duct tape is not
100% approved? :slight_smile:

David Geller


#19

Sorry can’t resist…

But but it was good enough for Apollo 13 crew… And Red Green (A
Canadian comic) specializes in using it… “If it can’t be fixed
with duct tape, it’s not fixable”

Actually I find it funny, in a perverted way, that the same gang
that will be up in arms over Cyanide bombing to brighten gold** etc.,
come up with all kinds of rationales to use gases like Propane and
Acetylene in unsafe ways.

Kay


#20

Ric, Thanks for your expertise. The final gasp— Is it legal in
Canada to work with the torch inside and then remove the tank when
finished?

Thanks,
CS