Propane Questions and Answers
Did you know that propane is a domestically sourced fuel and that more than 95 percent of the propane used in the United States is produced in North America? Propane is also safe, versatile, and used by millions of Americans every day. Those are just a few of the facts you can learn about propane right here. Check out our frequently asked questions and get the answers to propane questions you may have.
Q) What is propane?
A) Propane is a hydrocarbon (C3H8) and is sometimes referred to as liquefied petroleum gas, LP-gas, or LPG. Propane is produced from both natural gas processing and crude-oil refining. Nearly 97 percent of propane used in the United States is produced in North America. It is nontoxic, colorless, and virtually odorless. As with natural gas, an identifying odor is added so the gas can be readily detected.
Q) Who uses propane?
A) Propane is used by more than 12.6 million U.S. households for space heating and other purposes and by millions of other Americans for agricultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation applications.
Q) What can propane fuel in my home?
A) As a clean, versatile energy source, propane is frequently used for space heating, water heating, cooking, fireplaces, and clothes drying. In outdoor spaces, propane is a widely used energy source for outdoor grills, lighting, and heating for pools and spas. When electric power goes out, propane is often the energy that powers standby generators.
Q) Is propane really convenient to use and store?
A) Yes. Propane retailers deliver it right to your home. Propane tanks are environmentally friendly, require little maintenance, and can last up to 40 years. Propane's portability in liquid form makes it a convenient fuel for grilling, camping, and other uses. Up to 56,000 miles of pipeline and more than 6,000 retail dealer locations make propane readily available throughout the United States.
Q) Is propane safe for the environment?
A) Yes. Propane is an approved clean alternative fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act. Propane is a nontoxic fuel that doesn't contaminate aquifers or soil.
Q) Is propane safe for my family and me?
A) Yes. Propane is a very safe fuel. But as with any energy source, there are steps you should take to further ensure your safety:
- If you detect a gas leak, immediately evacuate everyone from the house and call your local propane provider or the fire department from a neighbor's telephone.
- Learn what propane smells like. Propane retailers print scratch-and-sniff pamphlets to help your family recognize its distinctive odor.
- Know where gas lines are located, so you won't damage them when digging or working in the yard.
- Change or clean furnace filters regularly as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Don't store cleaning fluids, oil-soaked rags, gasoline, or other flammable liquids near a gas-burning appliance, where vapors could be ignited by the pilot light.
Q) How can I recognize a propane leak in my home?
A) Propane has a strong, unpleasant smell, like rotten eggs, a skunk's spray, or a dead animal. Propane manufacturers add the smell deliberately to help alert customers to propane leaks, which can create a safety hazard. You can ask your propane retailer for a demonstration to help everyone in your home or building identify leaks.
Q) What should I do if there's a problem with a propane appliance?
A) Never modify or repair a propane appliance's valves, regulators, connectors, controls, or a propane tank's cylinder or parts. Instead, immediately call your propane retailer or a qualified service technician. They can inspect, adjust, repair, or replace any part of your propane system. Remember, your propane system incorporates special components to keep them safe for use.
Q) What should I do if my pilot light goes out?
A) The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) recommends that you get in touch with a qualified propane service technician to evaluate the appliance and relight the pilot light, which is a small, constantly burning flame inside the appliance that ignites the main burner. A pilot light that repeatedly goes out — or is difficult to light — may be signaling that there is a problem with the appliance or your propane system. Accidents and serious injuries can occur when customers attempt to fix a pilot light problem on their own.
Q) What assurance do I have that propane technicians are properly trained?
A) Propane is used safely by millions of Americans — and stored, handled, and transported by thousands of professionals — every day. That safety comes from a combination of stringent codes and regulations and our industry's extensive training and safety awareness programs. In fact, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) and the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) operate the Certified Employee Training Program (CETP), through which propane technicians train and get certified in all aspects of delivering propane and installing and servicing propane appliances. We update our training programs frequently to ensure that employees are equipped with the most current procedures and information available.
Q) Can a propane technician convert a natural gas furnace to propane?
A) Yes. Many furnaces originally built for natural gas can be converted to propane. For details, get in touch with your nearest propane retailer.
Q) Are there alternatives to having a propane tank in my yard?
A) Yes. Underground storage tanks are a popular option for single-family homes and housing developments. These large tanks can be buried underground because propane is a nontoxic fuel that doesn't contaminate aquifers or soil.
Q) If I use propane as my primary energy source, what size storage tank do I need?
A) Generally, a 500-gallon tank can hold enough propane to meet the annual energy needs of an average four-bedroom home. Tanks of 1,000 gallons or more may be needed for large homes with swimming pools and hot tubs.