Whether you have small camper or a large RV, there is a good chance that you use a propane tank to cook, warm your water or run your fridge.
But do you know how old your propane tank is? If you bought the RV recently, it’s likely the propane tank was included and you may need to get it recertified.
When it comes to propane tanks, safety is key! You need to make sure that the tank isn’t leaking or pose a fire hazard which could ruin your vacation.
This is one of the main reasons why you should get an old propane tank recertified. A certified tank is being checked for its safety, and all DOT propane tanks have to be certified by law.
If you are not sure where to go to get your propane tank recertified, then read on.
In this article, we take a look at everything you need to know about RV propane tanks, and where to get the tank certified within minutes so you can have a safe vacation.
Where Do I Find My Propane Tank’s Expiry Date?
Before you get your propane tank recertified, it’s worth checking first when your propane tank expires.
For most propane bottles, you can find the manufacturer date stamped on the collar of the tank.
Particularly some older propane tanks get repainted which covers up the stamp so check carefully for the date at the top.
It’s also a good idea to check for the date when you are swapping your tanks at a dealer you don’t know. After all, you want to make sure they don’t give you an old tank which expires soon.
Once a propane tank gets recertified, it receives a recertification stamp (sometimes also just a sticker) which has the new expiry date on.
Locations For Propane Tank Recertification
There are quite a few ways as to how to get your tank recertified but the easiest is to find a propane dealer closest to you.
It’s worth checking the retailer’s reviews and recommendations online, especially if you don’t know the area.
You may also want to call ahead to check with the dealer when you can bring your tank for recertification. Especially smaller dealers often have different opening times to larger outlets.
Local Propane Dealer
For this, you can either check the Yellow Pages or jump online and search for a local propane dealer with a search engine.
Dealers who specialize in propane deliveries, like Amerigas, offer tank exchanges and recertification. Check out the Amerigas website for a location near you.
When you are on the road, some campgrounds also offer propane tank recertification. If not, the campsite staff may be able to point you into the right direction.
Another way to find the right location to get your propane tank recertified is to look out for gas stations that sell propane. They usually also recertify the tanks as well.
As a rule of thumb, wherever you find propane tanks being sold, you can get them re-certified there.
Ways To Recertify A Propane Tank
Recertification for your propane tanks isn’t difficult. All you have to do is to remove your tanks and take them to the dealer or another certified propane station.
There, a technician will check your propane tank thoroughly. He will check for:
- Rust on your tank
- Valves and the latest valve regulations
Once the technician is done with the propane tank inspection, he will put a re-certification sticker on the tank to show the date when your tank needs recertifying next.
After this, you can take your DOT tank back and reattach it, ready for your next adventure.
The Propane Tank Recertification Sticker
A certified propane tank technician will check your tank for leaks, valve safety and any amount of rust. Once your tank has passed all of these checks, it’ll get a so-called propane tank recertification sticker.
This is to say that your tank has passed the inspection and that it’s safe to carry and use until the expiration date on the sticker.
The sticker always shows the previous recertification date of your tank.
How Much Does A Propane Tank Recertification Cost?
How much you will need to pay for the propane tank recertification will depend large on the state you are in, the area and the retailer.
People in California and Florida appear to pay the most for their propane tank recertifications, while Colorado charges one of the lowest fees.
There is no set fee as to how much you will be charged. Some people have reported a tank recertification to be just $7, while others have paid up to $60.
In order to avoid an unwelcome surprise with the cost, it’s best to check with your dealer up front.
If you have a little time left until your next recertification, it’s a good idea to shop around and compare prices. This could save you a lot of cash, especially if you have more than one tank.
If you can’t find a dealer that offers you a reasonable price, you could consider swapping your empty propane tank for a new bottle. This might turn out cheaper.
How Long Does A Propane Tank Certification Last?
With a brand new DOT propane tank, you have 12 years after its manufacturing date until it needs to be recertified. New legislation in some states brings this time down to 10 years.
You can find the manufacturing date stamped onto the collar of the tank. They usually include two sets of numbers, such as 06-21. This states that you need to recertify your propane tank in June 2033.
After the initial 12 years, you need to get this done every 5 years. However, you can also ask for a proof pressure test, where air is put inside the tank at twice the normal pressure.
If your tank passes this test, it can receive an additional 7 years. New laws in some states up the proof pressure lifespan of the propane tank to 10 years.
Generally, propane tanks shouldn’t receive more than 3 recertifications. Check with your local state office or propane gas company for more information how long a propane tank recertification can last.
Different Types Of Propane Tanks
There are a couple of different kinds of propane tanks which have varying properties, suitable for different uses. Two types of propane tanks are ASME and DOT tanks.
ASME Propane Tanks
ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) propane tanks are permanently installed tanks. For this reason, they are made with much thicker steel.
As they are heavier than DOT tanks, ASME propane tanks are usually not moved a lot and get permanently installed in RVs.
These tanks are designed and regulated by the American Sopciety of Mechanical Engineers. For this reason, they don’t need to be recertified.
The only part of an ASME tank that should be checked regularly is the relief valve. This should be replaced at least every 10 years to ensure your tank is safe to use.
You should also consider replacing the flexible hose on the tank after 15 years. This should be part of your continuing RV maintenance.
DOT Propane Tanks
DOT propane tanks are the kind of tanks you find in most campers and RVs. They have a lifespan of 12 years until they need re-certification.
After that, they need to be recertified every 5 years.
As DOT tanks are relatively light, it’s easy to detach them and take them to your local dealer for recertification.
Their design and regulations are overseen by the Department of Transportation, and thereforfore DOT propane tanks need to be recertified by trained personnel.
How To Revalve Your Propane Tank
With new regulations coming into effect regularly, it’s important that you stay up to date on propane tank laws in your state. Particularly regulations for valves change frequently.
A new law in 2002 states that all tanks which don’t have an OPD valve are not allowed to be refilled anymore.
OPD valves use a float system which closes the valve automatically when the propane bottle is full.
This new law means that a lot of old tanks either need to be replaced, or you can simply revalve your bottle.
First, your old propane tank should be empty, and secured so it cannot move around when you unscrew the valve.
Then you need to close the valve as tightly as possible. Use a blow torch to gently soften the thread sealant. The metal should only be warm, so be careful.
Next, you need to use a crowsfoot to rotate the old valve until it comes off the bottle.
At this point, it’s worthwhile checking the inside of the tank with a flashlight. If you spot any rust, you can either refurbish the tank or replace it with a new one.
If you can’t see any rust, then pour some methanol into the tank, swish it round and pour it out. The methanol helps to remove any moisture which might have settled inside the bottle.
Use gas rated Teflon tape to wrap around the new valve. This will act as your sealant.
Now you can screw the new valve into place. Make sure it sits tight. You can use the wrench to align it properly with the top of the bottle.
You can also ask a gas technician to revalve your propane tank. However, this may costly so it’s best to do it yourself or get a new bottle.
Once you are done, you can take your tank for re-inspection, and have the technician check for leaks. If everything’s fine, your propane tank will get a recertification sticker.
Should I Buy A New Propane Tank Rather Than Recertify My Old?
There are quite a few benefits of buying a new propane tank rather than having your old one recertified.
A new tank would be in pristine condition, without rust or dents, and you can be sure it’s absolutely safe to use wherever you go.
Another advantage of a new propane tank is that it has a 12 year lifespan, rather than 5 years with an old recertified tank.
This means you don’t have to worry about getting your tank recertified in 5 years time.
As you may have discovered already when looking for a propane dealer who would do a recertification, it’s much easier to find retailers selling new propane tanks rather than a technician who is able to recertify the old one.
For this reason, buying a new propane bottle is much less hassle and it saves you time.
Another benefit is that all the new tanks already have the OPD valve which is required since 2002. This means, you won’t have to worry about having to revalve your old tank if it was manufactured before 2002.
On the other hand, one of the biggest factor for most when they consider recertifying a propane tank rather than buying a new one is the cost.
New tanks can be expensive, and recertifying your old tank is a quick and cheap process.
Whether you are on a budget and choose to recertify, or you want to be on the safe side for a long vacation, both new and old propane tanks have their pros and cons.
Will I Receive A Penalty If My Propane Tank Isn’t Recertified?
While there are different laws and regulations for DOT and ASME propane tanks, there are no specific penalties are fines if you are found to have a non-certified tank.
Bear in mind though that, under law, retailers are required to check the certification stamp or sticker on your bottle, and if they spot that yours has not been updated, they are likely to refuse a refill for your tank.
What Happens When My Propane Tank Fails The Inspection?
If your propane tank fails the recertification inspection, you’ll likely be given a reason why.
If the tank failed because of an old valve, you have the option to get your tank revalved or alternatively you can dispose of your old propane bottle.
The propane dealer should be able to advise you where to dispose of your tank. Sometimes hazardous waste sites or trash collection agencies take old propane tanks.
Be sure to ask for the best time and any fees you might need to pay to drop the tank off.
Some cities even have special waste disposal days where you can dispose of almost anything, such as your old DOT tanks.
While recertifying your propane tank regularly sounds like a lot of hassle, it’s important to remember that the inspections ensure your tank is safe.
Especially when you use a propane tank regularly in your RV or camper, you want to have the peace of mind that it doesn’t leak or cause any harm.
Recertification for your propane tank can take just a few minutes. A qualified technician will go through different tests and check the bottle works as it should.
Getting your tank recertified is also much cheaper than buying a new one, and if you find that your tank fails an inspection, you can always either revalve your tank (if it failed due to an old valve) or buy a new propane bottle.