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What Makes a Propane Tank Last for Decades? Our Ultimate Guide to Propane Tank Longevity

Propane tanks are a staple of rural American homes. More than 11 million households rely on propane for heat, cooking, laundry, and more. Without robust propane tanks to handle deliveries and keep enough propane on your property, America’s rural families would have a harder time maintaining a modern life. 

Find out more details about what makes propane tanks last for so long with our guide. We’re talking about large tanks, at 100 gallons or more, for regular home or commercial use. Our tanks are some of the best you’ll find in America!

How Long Do Propane Tanks Last?

Physically speaking, propane tanks can last 30 years or more for home or commercial use. Each propane tank has a plate permanently attached to it stating its manufacture date, place of manufacture, and other details. If you have any questions about a propane tank’s longevity, contact the manufacturer listed on the plate.

Propane tank longevity can change based on several factors. The surrounding environment is one. Quality construction is another. Third is running out of propane in the tank, which should never happen. Running out of propane leads to extended maintenance, which could lower the propane tank’s longevity if running out occurs frequently.

A tank that's continuously being drained and refilled might age faster than one that's used more moderately. This doesn't mean you need to ration the propane your customers use. Just be aware of the impact it can have on propane tank longevity. That’s why we recommend filling up propane tanks to 80% once the level reaches 20%. 

Your drivers should inspect tanks, not just on the valves for refilling, but the overall condition of the tank with every delivery. Did you have a hard winter last year? Was it extraordinarily hot last summer? Are their leaves, twigs, or moss on or near the tank? All of these factors could lead to quicker degradation of the propane tank, lowering your ROI.

What Are Propane Tanks Made Of?

Most propane tanks are constructed of high-grade steel and aluminum. These metals are made to withstand extreme temperatures and conditions as well as to foster propane tank longevity for steady home or commercial use. The shells of the propane tanks at James River Manufacturing are made of hot-rolled SA-414G carbon steel, and the heads are made from hot-rolled SA-414C carbon steel. Both of these steels are specially made for pressurized vessels like propane tanks. We’ve found that steel works better than aluminum because it’s sturdier, isn’t as porous, and works better with the powder coating process.

Our manufacturing processes for wholesale propane tanks turn sheets of this steel into a cylinder in a roll-former. The rollers in the machine make a minute change to the steel until it forms the entire cylinder. We’ll weld the end caps to both sides of the tank, then put the tank on the sturdy base, and then weld it permanently in place.

Then, we move to the coating process. We used to have liquid primers and topcoats. Now, we use electrostatic powder coating because it ensures a sturdier coating that lasts for longer periods of time. Powder coats can last up to 40 years and provide better protection than liquid coatings on propane tanks. It’s permanently baked onto the surface, providing an even, cohesive appearance. The goal of powder coating is to prevent rust and corrosion from getting to the steel in the tank. Powder coating also comes in a wide range of colors, so if you want a lid that’s a different color than the body, we can do that!

Next, we install Rego valves, the best in the business, on the top of each tank. We test every tank, purge them properly, and ship them to you.

Importance of Quality Construction in Propane Tanks

You cannot settle for a propane tank made with inferior materials or valves. Every inch of the propane tank must withstand the elements and deliver propane to your customers for years. The longer your propane tanks last, the less money you need to spend on replacing or refurbishing them.

Not all propane tanks are made the same. Neither you nor your customers should settle for cheap propane tanks. What you think is a bargain now could turn into an expensive disaster later with tanks not made according to the top industry standards, and your propane tank longevity suffers, too. 

Maintenance Tips for Propane Tanks

Regular maintenance and inspections are the key to ensuring you get the best propane tank longevity. Propane truck drivers already check the valves every time they fill the tanks. Have your drivers look for unsightly signs of wear and tear, like rust patches or apparent dents. The black stuff that can accumulate on the outside is mold, which you can clean with water. Mold can happen with too much moisture build-up outside the tank.

Instruct your homeowners to regularly check for suspicious odors or hissing sounds from the tank. Those are sure signs of a propane leak, which means an emergency call to the propane provider. 

Keep the propane tank clear of debris, clutter, and flammable materials. Suppose leaves accumulate during fall weather, or perhaps water runs underneath from a flooding spring rain. In that case, property owners should clean up the areas around the tank to remove any debris. Keep an eye on large trees overhead and nearby. That 50-foot gigantic oak tree over 100 years old might pose a problem if it falls over. So, homeowners need to assess trees for their height.

When to Consider Propane Tank Replacement or Refurbishment

At some point, a propane tank will wear out. It’s inevitable. Hopefully, that’s not for 30 years, based on the high-quality tank you purchase. The main symptom to watch out for is persistent issues with a propane tank. 

If you're consistently seeing excessive rust despite regular cleaning, or if you're discovering more and more dents, consider a replacement or refurbishment, depending on what you decide. Rust and dents not only impact your tank's aesthetics but can also compromise its performance and safety.

Frequent calls to patch leaks might indicate that your propane tank is done. As part of our refurbishing process, we test tanks to see where any leaks are coming from. Once we determine that, we’ll devise a solution that might include replacing the old tank.  

Safety is of paramount importance when it comes to propane tanks. Older tanks might need to be updated to current safety standards. Safety standards also change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and federal requirements may change. Upgrading to a newer model can improve the tank’s safety and enhance the efficiency of your customer’s propane use.

It all comes down to one overall point when considering an investment in a new or refurbished propane tank: Is the current tank costing you more money than it’s worth? Is your staff spending too much time troubleshooting a tank’s problems? Then, it’s probably best to get a new or refurbished tank.

Where Can I Purchase Quality Propane Tanks?

James River Manufacturing, based in the Midwest, manufactures, refurbishes, and ships wholesale propane tanks anywhere in the country. If you need a truckload of propane tanks, contact us, call (417) 288-4979, or request a quote. We take care of everything from start to finish, including picking up your current tanks that need refurbishing. Once they’re brand-new, we ship them back to you.


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