FAQ

 I have never used propane before:

I currently have propane, and I'm interested in more information about how propane is used safely:

Other propane related topics:
  • I am interested in purchasing additional propane appliances. - CLICK FOR INFO
  • I would like to have my NEW home/business plumbed for propane use. - CLICK FOR INFO
  • I need remedial work performed on my existing propane system. - CLICK FOR INFO
Do you have additional questions?  If so, please submit questions by filling out our contact form or by calling our office.  Also, please visit the Propane 101website for any questions which may not have been answered here.  Thank you.

RESPONSES TO FAQ

  Q:  I've never used propane before. What do I expect? Who do I call?

A:  If you have recently purchased or rented a property that has a propane system, determine if the property has a propane tank.  If it does, check the tank for stickers that identify a propane gas company.  Some companies have tags or stickers underneath the dome at the top of the tank.  This will give you an indication of who (what company) is familiar with your propane system.  Most propane companies keep records of tanks they service by location and the tank's serial number.

The following items can be found on a typical propane tank manufacturer nameplate (located under tank dome):


Necessary Name Plate Markings

In addition to the nameplate being visible and permanently attached to the tank, the following must be displayed:

1.  container designed for service type(above or underground)
2.  tank manufacture name and address 
3.  tank water capacity typically in gallons (sometimes in pounds) i.e. see picture at right - 1000 gallons
4.  design pressure (working pressure) in PSI
5.  words " This container shall not contain a product that has a vapor pressure in excess of 215 PSI at 100 degrees Farenheit
6.  outside surface area in square feet
7.  year of manufacture
8.  tank shell and head thickness
9.  OL (overall length), OD (outside diameter), and HD (head design)
10.  tank manufacturer's serial number
11.  ASME code symbol (pictured at bottom right)


Typical Manufacturer's Nameplate

 - ASME code symbol

 

If you are able to locate a sticker/tag identifying a propane gas company, this indicates that the tank is likely owned by that company.  You will need to contact the company to determine a course of action for either obtaining service from them or having them remove the tank.  If a propane tank is leased from a propane gas company, that company is the ONLY propane provider that may service that tank.  If you determine that you own the tank, the owner can then contact any propane gas company they choose for service.

  Q:  How do I select a propane provider?

A:  When selecting a propane provider, the following criteria are important:

  1. Safety Record - Ask the company about their safety record and safety programs.  They should be able to offer references, such as regulatory agencies that will attest to their safety record as well as any safety programs they are enrolled in or perform within their organization.
  2. Regulatory Agencies - Each state has an agency regulating its propane industry.  These agencies and regulatory commissions oversee all activities regarding the LP Gas Industry within their respective state.  Although state regulators probably can't recommend any particular propane company, they may be able to provide information about safety records and compliance if requested.
  3. Company Policies - Ask about any policies such as out of gas procedures, service fees or pricing structures that may work better for your budget and give you peace of mind. Although some companies charge additional fees such as Hazmat and Fuel Surcharge Fees for deliveries in addition to the price quoted per gallon, Pacheco Oil & Gas, Inc. does not have any such charges.  Also, companies vary on hourly rates for service work, tank lease/rental fees, and fees for gas leak tests.
The very best advice is to choose a company based on their references, reputation, and safety record...not solely their price.  Your safety and that of your family depends on it.  

 Q:  I need a propane tank but don't know if I should rent or buy one?

A:  There are pros and cons for both the rental and purchase of propane tanks that should be taken into consideration when deciding between buying a tank or leasing one.  

Leasing:

  • company owned tanks are maintained by the propane company so any repairs to the tank will generally be taken care of by the company
  • all propane must be purchased from the company that owns the tank
  • lease tank contracts often give the company the legal right to enter property to inspect the tank
  • many providers require a minimum annual propane usage or a certain number of propane appliances in the propane system
  • moving to a new home will require you to notify your propane company of your relocation
Purchasing:

  • the initial cost of purchasing a tank can be expensive as opposed to yearly rental fees for tank leases
  • warranty on tank, parts, and labor should be considered prior to purchase (typically warranties are short term)
  • customers can purchase propane from which ever gas company they choose
Here at Pacheco Oil & Gas Inc., we require a minimum yearly consumption of propane to rent a propane tank.  The following conditions apply for tank rentals:
  • 120 Gallon Tanks - Minimum yearly consumption of 450 Gallons (Mora area only)
  • 250 Gallon Tanks - Minimum yearly consumption of 600 Gallons (Any area we service)
  • 500 Gallon Tanks - Minimum yearly consumption of 1,200 Gallons (Any area we service)
 Q:  Why do I have to have a leak test performed on my propane system?

A:  Leak tests are required any time there is an interruption of service meaning the flow of gas was stopped for any reason.  NFPA 54 (2006), 8.2.3 states that "Immediately after the gas is turned on into a new system or into a system that has been initially restored after an interruption of service, the piping system shall be tested for leakage.  If leakage is indicated, the gas supply shall be shut off until the necessary repairs have been made".  

The leak test will indicate any leaks within the propane piping system. The leakage test is simply testing the integrity of the system plumbing joints and the seal of the pipe joint compound.  This is the safety reasoning behind leak testing.  To reiterate, the pressure test is performed in order to ensure the safety of the home owner/business owner.  

All propane piping, connections, and fittings are threaded so that they may easily connect together during installation or modification.  These propane connections are coated with a pipe joint compound that lubricates the fittings during the joining process and will dry after a short while. During normal usage, a propane plumbing system is at a constant pressure.  This means that as long as the tank has gas and is supplying the system with propane, a constant pressure is exerted on the piping and joint compound.  The pipe joint compound will expand during normal pressurized usage and will retract if the system  loses pressure.  The loss of gas pressure may cause leaks to form because of the expansion and retraction of the piping compound within the propane plumbing system.

 Q:  Where can I place a propane tank for service?

A:  In order to ensure that you are in compliance with national statutory codes, it is best to contact a licensed propane service provider to inquire about acceptable locations for tank sets.  Certain clearances are required for tank sets depending on the size of the tank and the proximity to structures, property lines, electrical boxes, and other important criteria.  National codes have been established depending on the size of the propane tank and in some cases local jurisdictional codes may supersede some national requirements.  Therefore, to save yourself headaches, time, and money, it is in your best interest to contact a licensed propane provider to ensure the latest code requirements are met.

 Q:  Is propane safe?  Do propane tanks explode easily?

A:  This question has been asked of many propane dealers and is also a topic discussed by people that are unfamiliar with propane.  Propane tanks do not explode.  They do not implode nor do they rupture or come apart on their own.  In fact, bringing a propane tank to the point of "explosion" is a tremendously difficult and time consuming task that's not as simple as most people might think.  Many people believe that a propane tank "explosion" can occur with the slightest of ease.  However, this is simply not true and people should understand that a propane tank, when operating under normal circumstances will not explode or rupture.  Safety devices and mechanisms are in place to prevent explosions, accidents, and propane tank ruptures or breaches.  Just like any other hazardous material or activity, human error is a primary factor in preventing or contributing to any type of accident, however serious in nature.

 Q:  Is my tank or propane system leaking?

A:  Propane tanks will sometimes give an indication of a leak by sound or by smell.  People will describe this noise as a "hissing" noise coming from the tank getting louder as they get closer.  In addition, a rotten egg smell will often accompany the "hissing" noise.  In many instances, the tank may be operating normally even though it appears to be leaking.  The following are examples of the above mentioned effects:

    
   
 Open Bleeder Valve

The fixed liqud level gauge (bleeder valve) is required to be opened by
the delivery person every time the tank is filled with propane.  On
occasion, the delivery driver may not completely close the bleeder valve
following the filling process or the bleeder valve opening may have been
blocked by a small piece of debris from inside the tank that cleared
following the drivers departure.  If this is the case, simply turning the
bleeder valve clockwise will close the valve and stop the flow of gas.  
This is not unheard of and is easily remedied by simply closing the
bleeder valve.

 Relief Valve Actuating
On hot days when the sun is high overhead and a propane delivery has
recently been made, the safety relief valve may open slightly allowing
excess pressure to vent.  If the relief valve is opened, the protective cap
will be removed from the top of the valve from the pressure buildup, as
pictured to the left.  DO NOT LOOK INTO THE RELIEF VALVE OR
TAP IT WITH ANYTHING.  Doing this may cause the relief valve to
open all the way.  The relief valve is doing what it is designed to do and
releasing excess pressure from the tank.  One way to remedy the
situation is to cool the tank down by spraying water from a water hose
on the tank surface.  This will generally cause the valve to close.

Regulator Pressure Relief Valve

The regulator vent allows the regulator to "breathe" during normal
operation and functions as a pressure relief opening in an overpressure
situation.  It should remain free of dirt and debris in order to operate
properly.  Propane regulators are manufactured with pressure relief
devices built inside the regulator body and operate in a similar manner
as that of a tank pressure relief valve.  If triggered, the relief valve will
open and allow gas to escape through the regulator vent.
    
If the devices described above appear to be operating properly and you are concerned there may be a leak, please close the service valve (if safely accessible) on the propane tank by turning it clock wise and call your propane service provider to perform a leak test.  

If you smell (rotten egg odor) propane inside your home/business, immediately exit the structure and shut off the service valve on the propane tank if it is safely accessible.  Then call your propane service provider to perform a leak test.


 Q:  How do I know how much propane my tank has?

A:  Most propane tanks have a percent gauge at the top of the tank (underneath dome) or sometimes on the side of the propane tank.  Depending on the size of your tank, the percent gauge gives an estimate of how much propane your tank has.

A typical percent gauge is shown to the right.  This gauge is marking 0 percent indicating that the tank is out of gas.   
For example, your tank is a 500 gallon tank, and it is indicating 65% (pictured at right)....

So to estimate gallons, we take 65% of 500 gallons:
.65 x 500 = 325 gallons 

Remember, the percent gauge is an estimate and not accurate to the gallon.

Keep in mind, tanks vary in size.  To identify the size of your tank, look at the manufacturers nameplate on the propane tank.
 

 Q:  When should I order propane?

A:  Typically, you should order when your percent gauge is marking 20%.  There may be circumstances where an order should be placed at a higher percentage.  For instance, if you live in an area that is only accessible during certain times of the year or when there is no snow, if your residence/business is located far from the propane provider where certain areas are only serviced on route schedules, or any other circumstances that require special considerations.

 Q:  What is the minimum amount of gallons I can order?

A:  Here at Pacheco Oil & Gas Inc., the minimum amount of gallons that will be made per delivery is 125 gallons, with the exception of 120 gallon sized tanks which must be filled on each delivery.  Many propane companies have a minimum gallon requirement per order.  Therefore, you must check with your propane provider for information about their delivery policies.

 Q:  Why am I using so much propane?

A:  If you heat your home with propane and it's cold outside, you are going to use more propane.  The same goes for heating with natural gas or electricity.  Many propane consumers may think they have leaks due to an unseasonably cold winter or extended periods of cold weather.  

One gallon of propane has 91,547 BTU's.  Appliance BTU ratings indicate the appliance usage at 100% capacity.  In other words, a furnace with a 75,000 BTU/hr rating means that the furnace will use 75,000 BTU's per hour when it is running "full blast".  The furnace will use about 0.82 gallons of propane in one hours time (75,000 / 91,547 = 0.82).  An example of a typical propane system for New Mexico residents is as follows:  

1 Water Heater - 40,000 BTU/hr
1 central furnace - 75,000 BTU/hr
1 gas range  - 65,000 BTU/hr

The total load on this propane system is 180,000 BTU/hr (40,000 + 75,000 + 65,000 = 180,000).  This means that if all appliances are running at 100%, the total use will be about 2 gallons of propane per hour (180,000 / 91,547 = 1.97).  At this propane usage rate, a total of 48 gallons are being used per day.  

Although it is highly unlikely that all 3 propane appliances will be operating at 100 % throughout the entire day, the example above is provided to help the consumer understand how BTU ratings on appliances determine the propane consumption of a propane system.
 

 Q:  What is the annual cost of propane?  How do I budget my money for propane?

A:  The annual cost depends on your yearly consumption as well as price fluctuations for propane during different seasons throughout the year. This value is difficult to determine unless you have an average consumption per year based on previous usage.  Most propane companies have records of your yearly usage and can provide you with an account history to determine your average yearly consumption.  Based on your average yearly consumption, your propane provider may be able to provide you with an ESTIMATED yearly cost.

Here at Pacheco Oil & Gas Inc., we can provide you with your average yearly consumption upon request and also help you to determine an ESTIMATED annual cost for propane.  This value can then be evaluated to determine monthly budget payments for customers.  Please contact our office for additional information.  Customers that wish to make monthly payments on their own are also encouraged to do so to prevent large lump sum payments which are due upon/prior to delivery.  Most companies require that the propane load is paid in full prior to or upon delivery.
 


 Q:  Can I paint my tank?

A:  If you own your tank, you can paint it.  If the tank is a rental/lease, you will have to ask your propane provider about painting the tank.  NFPA 58 states that propane containers must be painted with a heat reflective color.  Light colors are recommended.  Avoid dark colors; they absorb too much heat and are dangerous and may not be serviceable.  Here at Pacheco Oil & Gas Inc., we prefer to paint all our tanks white.  Be sure to check with your propane provider. 

Other propane related topics:

 I am interested in purchasing additional propane appliances.

Consumers should check with their propane providers to determine which appliances can be installed legally and also to ensure that the appliances work properly for the geographical location they are located in.  There are many factors that should be considered including but not limited to altitude, climate, and reliability of the appliance brand.  For example, there are certain heaters that do not operate efficiently here in the Mora area due to the high elevation.  Also, certain water heaters may not operate as well as other models.  These issues are best addressed by experienced propane service technicians who have installed and serviced many different models of propane appliances.  Please call us to set up a consultation appointment if you are considering the purchase of additional propane appliances.

 I would like to have my NEW home/business plumbed for propane use.

The most important consideration for new gas line installation is to obtain a qualified licensed propane technician/plumber that is knowledgeable in the latest propane codes and construction standards.  In New Mexico, a propane contractor must hold an LP 5 License from the New Mexico Construction Industries Division.  Pacheco Oil & Gas Inc., is licensed and insured.  We have qualified service technicians available to assist you with your new propane system.  Please call our office for additional information or contact us with a brief description through our "Contact Us" page.

 I need remedial work performed on my existing propane system.

This is probably the single most important issue the propane industry battles on a daily basis.  People constantly want to fix their own leaks or make changes to their gas system to save money or because the propane company is unable to get a technician to fix their propane system immediately.  Modifications to a propane system by unqualified individuals are not advisable and are unsafe.  

The propane industry views modifications to a propane system as "additional changes" to an existing gas system.  Quite often, modifications to a propane system by the home owner result in an unsafe and illegal situation.  In addition to not being safe, there are many things to take into consideration before any amendment is made to the propane system.

For example, you have a room in your home that you would like to add a space heater to, but there is no supply connection or gas valve.  So you figure you will do it yourself.  Some questions come to mind that you probably don't know need to be answered:

  • How will this new gas outlet affect other appliances when in use?
  • Will the current regulator be sufficient for the total BTU load?
  • Are there any permitting requirements or local jurisdictional codes to be complied with?
  • Does the length of pipe or tubing require a second stage regulator?
  • Is the regulator designed and/or legal for fixed propane piping systems?
  • What size tubing or pipe will be needed so that the heater will function properly?
  • Will the propane company still fill my tank if I don't repair this properly?  What is properly?
  • Are flue gases an issue?  What about appliance venting and is it required? 
Pacheco Oil & Gas, Inc., knows how to properly make additions/modifications to your existing system so that the entire system will function properly. Let the propane professionals handle it.  

 

Save Money with our Special Discounts.....

Senior Citizen Discounts

Ages 60-69 - $0.05/gallon
Ages 70-79 - $0.10/gallon
Ages 80-89 - $0.15/gallon
Ages 90-99 - $0.20/gallon
100+ - $0.25/gallon

We also offer the following public service professionals a $0.10/gallon discount:
  • Clergy
  • Fire Fighters
  • Emergency Medical Technicians
  • Law Enforcement
  • Teachers
  • Military (retired/active)