At Lakes Gas, safety is our standard and we are dedicated to safeguarding you, your family, and your property as well as our employees.
Because we know that safety comes with understanding, our goal is to provide you with valuable information about propane, its uses and safety tips.
Learn more about propane safety below or from this Safety Data Sheet (SDS).
Don’t panic. A hissing noise could be a sign of a leak, but it could also be caused by other harmless aspects of your propane tank.
Here’s how to tell if the hissing sound is a leak and how to react.
Check the Bleeder Valve
Have you recently received a propane delivery? If so, an open bleeder valve or fixed liquid level gauge could be to blame. Delivery technicians open these valves during the propane refilling process and, in some cases, they are not completely closed when the refill is finished. Turn the bleeder valve clockwise until it is completely closed and you can no longer turn it. If the hissing noise persists, continue reading.
Check the Relief Valve Cap
Is it a hot, sunny day? Check to see if the cap on your relief valve is open. If so, the valve is doing what it’s designed to do on hot days; slowly release pressure built up by the propane that expands when subjected to heat. The cap may have blown off due to the pressure. This safety feature is in place to protect against ruptures or explosions from expanding gas. If you see the cap open, do not look into the relief valve or tap it with anything. That can cause the valve to open all the way and release more pressure than is necessary. You can cool the tank by spraying water from your garden hose onto the tank’s surface. That should cause the relief valve to close. If the hissing noise persists, you may have a propane gas leak.
Hissing can also be a symptom of a propane gas leak. If you smell gas, immediately evacuate the area and contact Lakes Gas. If you do not smell gas and have tried both above options and still hear hissing, you can easily check for a small leak yourself by spraying a solution of dish soap and water onto the gauge or other areas of the tank where you suspect a leak. If you see bubbles, you have a leak. The larger the bubbles, the larger the size of the leak. If you do find a leak, contact Lakes Gas to arrange for repairs.
Additionally, if you are looking for a new residential propane provider in Minnesota or Wisconsin, Lakes Gas can help.
Small propane cylinders are convenient, portable and much less expensive than the large propane tanks you might use to heat your home or power your big appliances. But it’s important to remember that small propane cylinders can still be dangerous if they are not properly used, stored and handled. Keep these safety tips from the Propane Education and Resource Council in mind when you use small propane cylinders.
- Always transport propane cylinders in their upright positions. On their side they may roll or shift, which could cause damage.
- When moving cylinders, always turn the valve off and close securely with a plug, if necessary, even if the cylinder is empty. If you’re not sure if a plug is needed, ask your propane retailer.
- Put the cylinder in a well-ventilated area of your vehicle, such as a truck bed. Remove immediately when you arrive at your destination. Never leave a filled propane cylinder in a hot car. Heat causes propane to expand, which could lead to a gas leak or an explosion.
- Keep propane cylinders outside. Never keep them indoors or in an enclosed area, such as a garage, shed or basement.
- Keep them in a cool place. Do not expose cylinders to heat above 120 degrees. That temperature could cause combustion or a leak.
- Keep propane cylinders away from flames. That includes smoking or using spark-producing tools. Any flame could cause combustion.
- Propane smells like rotten eggs, skunk spray or dead animals. If you smell a leak, even faintly, or hear a hissing noise near your tank, turn off the valve. Leave the area and call the fire department or 911. Do not restart your appliance until a qualified technician has inspected your tank and the appliance.
- You should also test for leaks before you use your propane tank after a period of non-use. Dab a leak detector solution or soapy water to the connector valve and outlet (these should be marked with an “X”). Open the cylinder valve and watch for bubbles. If you see bubbles, close the cylinder valve, tighten the connection, and slowly open the valve again. If you still see bubbles, contact Lakes Gas immediately.
- Make sure your propane cylinder has an overfill protection device. If a tank is overfilled, the propane may not have enough room to expand, which could lead to combustion.
- Do not use a propane cylinder that has been damaged or involved in a fire. All cylinders should be tested before they are used. Damaged cylinders are likely dangerous. If you need to dispose of a damaged cylinder, don’t toss it in the trash. Contact Lakes Gas for tips on proper disposal.
If you smell propane, immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Don’t operate lights, appliances, telephones or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or a fire.
- Leave the area immediately and get everyone out of the building when you suspect gas is leaking.
- Shut off the gas. Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank if it’s safe to do so. Turn the valve clockwise - to the right - to close it.
- Report the leak. Call your propane retailer from a neighbor’s home or a nearby building away from the leak. If you can’t reach your retailer, call 911 or your local fire department.
- Don’t return to the building or area until your propane retailer, emergency responder or qualified service technician says it’s safe to do so.
- Get your system checked. Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances, make sure a professional checks your entire system to ensure that it’s free of leaks.
Propane has a strong, unpleasant smell. It can be compared to the scent of rotten eggs. Propane manufacturers add the smell deliberately to help alert customers to propane leaks, which, as you may know, can create a safety hazard.
CO can be deadly! Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can cause dizziness, headaches or flu-like symptoms. In extreme cases, CO can cause brain damage or death. Young children, the elderly, people with heart disease and those under the influence of alcohol, drugs or medication are more susceptible to CO poisoning.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include:
- Shortness of breath
Carbon monoxide detectors can greatly improve your safety. They are designed to sound an alarm when levels of CO in the air reach dangerous levels. We recommend installing a CO detector on each level of your home.
Act immediately! If you or a family member is showing signs of CO poisoning, get everyone outside and call 911 or the fire department. If it’s safe to do so, open windows to allow the entry of fresh air and turn off any appliances that may be emitting CO. If no one has symptoms of CO poisoning, but you still suspect CO is present, call your propane retailer or qualified service technician to check CO levels and your propane system.
You can reduce your risk of CO poisoning by doing the following:
- Have your propane appliances and venting systems checked annually by a qualified service technician.
- Install CO detectors on every level of your home.
- Don’t use a gas oven or range-top burner to provide space heating.
- Don’t use portable heaters indoors, unless they are specifically designed for that purpose
- Don’t use a barbecue grill indoors for cooking or heating
- Regularly check your appliance exhaust vents for blockage.
On rare occasions, propane can lose its odor. There are several causes of odor loss, including:
- Air, water or rust in a propane tank or cylinder.
- Propane is leaking underground and passing through the soil.
- Propane odor is sticking to the inside surfaces of gas piping, distribution systems and possibly other materials.
Since there is a possibility of odor loss or a problem with your sense of smell, you should respond immediately to even a faint odor of gas. If you’re concerned that you or others in your home may have difficulty smelling propane, consider buying one or more propane gas detectors.
Under some circumstances, you may not smell a propane leak, but propane gas detectors are designed to sound an alarm if they sense the presence of propane. Their operation does not depend on the concentration of odorant in the air, just the propane concentration at the detector.
We recommend that you consider installing one or more propane gas detectors. That’s especially important if you or others in your home have difficulty smelling propane, or if appliances are in little-used areas in your home where the smell of propane might not be detected. Detectors can provide an additional measure of security.
Remember: detector quality is important. Be sure the units you buy are listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL). To be sure propane gas detectors operate properly, install and maintain them as the manufacturer recommends.
Finally, trust your nose. Never ignore the smell of propane, even if no detector is sounding an alarm to signal its presence. However, if a detector is sounding an alarm, treat it as an emergency and act immediately, even if you do not smell the propane.
Many propane appliances have a pilot light. It’s a small, constantly burning flame inside the appliance. Pilot lights are an important safety feature. They ignite the main burner when it’s needed.
We strongly recommend that you have a qualified service technician relight any pilot light that has gone out.
- A pilot light that repeatedly goes out, or is very difficult to light, may be a sign that there’s a problem with the appliance or your propane system. If you’re experiencing a similar problem, don’t try to fix it yourself. Contact a professional technician to evaluate the appliance or propane system. Fires, explosions and serious injuries can occur when untrained individuals try to fix a pilot light.
- If you do try to light a pilot light on your own, please proceed with great caution and follow these rules:
- Follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings concerning the appliance.
- If the appliance is in a basement or closed room, thoroughly ventilate the area before lighting the pilot.
- Don’t smoke or have any sources of ignition, like flames or spark-producing materials, in the area before lighting.
- Be on alert for the smell of propane. Sniff at floor level before lighting the pilot.
- If you smell gas, do not attempt to light the pilot.
- Don’t allow extra or unnecessary people, especially children, to be in the area when you’re lighting the pilot.
- Don’t try to light the pilot in an area where other odors might interfere with your ability to smell propane.
- Don’t light the pilot if musty or damp smells persist. These can mask the smell of propane.
- Don’t apply force or use tools on the pilot light or its controls. You could cause damage, leading to gas leakage. Use only your hands to operate knobs, switches and buttons.
- Don’t attempt to let air out of gas lines by opening a valve or fitting inside a building or enclosed space. You could be releasing gas, yet not be able to smell it.
- Don’t apply oil to a sticky knob or button on a gas control valve. Oil can cause the control valve mechanism to stick and malfunction.