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Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is propane?

Why does propane smell?

What do I do if I smell gas or suspect a leak?

How to check your tank guage?

Out of gas?

Can I relight my pilot lights?

Why isn't my tank filled to 100 percent capacity?

Do propane prices change?

Is propane safe to use in my home?

How can I be sure I’m handling the use of propane gas properly in my home?

Who uses propane?

Why would I choose propane over electricity for my appliances and heating in my home?

How does propane compare to other forms of energy?>

What is a material safety data sheet (MSDS)?

Is propane really a convenient fuel?

Is propane dangerous to the environment?

Answers

Q. WHAT EXACTLY IS PROPANE?

A. Propane is an energy-rich gas, C3H8. It is one of the liquefied petroleum gases (LP-Gas or LPGs) that are found mixed with natural gas and oil. Propane and other liquefied gases, including ethane and butane, are separated from natural gas at natural gas processing plants, or from petroleum at refineries. The amount of propane produced from natural gas and from oil is about equal.

Propane naturally occurs as a gas. However, at higher pressure or lower temperatures, it becomes a liquid. Because propane is 270 times more compact as a liquid than as a gas, it is transported and stored in its liquid state. Propane becomes a gas again when a valve is opened to release it from its pressurized container. When returned to normal pressure, propane becomes a gas so that we can use it.

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Q. WHY DOES PROPANE SMELL?

A. In its natural state, propane is odorless. As a safety precaution, an odorant called Ethyl Mercaptan is added so any presence of propane may be easily detected. While most of us are able to detect even the slightest propane odor, some people are unable to.

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Q. WHAT DO I DO IF I SMELL GAS OR SUSPECT A LEAK?

A.

  • You should immediately extinguish all open flames
  • Leave the area where the odor is present
  • DO NOT use your home or cell phone
  • DO NOT open windows
  • DO NOT turn off (or on) appliances
  • DO NOT turn any switches (i.e. lights, fans, etc.) on or off
  • Go directly to your propane tank, open the tank hood, and close the vapor service valve
  • Under no circumstances should the vapor service valve be left open or re-opened
  • Proceed immediately to the nearest off premise phone and contact your local fire department

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Q. HOW TO CHECK YOUR TANK GAUGE?

A. If you are a Will Call customer, American Energy Propane recommends that you regularly monitor your tank level. Look for the round dial attached to the tank with numbers from 5 to 95 (typically under the lid). To allow for propane gas to expand with temperature fluctuations, a propane tank is considered full at 80% of its capacity. For example if your tank gauge reads 70% and you have a 124-gallon tank it has 86.8 gallons in it. For your convenience, comfort & safety American Energy Propane recommends that you always maintain at least 20% in your propane tank. We can help you not worry about running out of fuel. Call us to become an On Route customer and we will make sure your tank has propane at all times.

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Q. OUT OF GAS?

A. If your tank is out of gas, American Energy Propane will need someone (an adult) to be at the delivery address when we deliver to perform a leak test to ensure the integrity of your propane piping system when your propane service is reinstated. If you are not an On Route customer in good standing, this is a fee service. Regardless of account status, this practice is required by American Energy Propane for your safety and in compliance with the National Fuel Gas Code.

Avoid unnecessary fees by signing up for our On Route service. We recommend this service because it helps us to operate more efficiently, which means we can continue to deliver excellent customer service to all of our customers.

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Q. CAN I RELIGHT MY PILOT LIGHTS?

A. We strongly recommend that for safety reasons you avoid unnecessary risks by having a qualified, trained professional relight your pilots especially if your tank has run out of gas. Please contact American Energy Propane.

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Q. WHY ISN’T MY TANK FILLED TO 100 PERCENT CAPACITY?

A. Your propane is delivered and stored in liquid form. Propane liquid, for example, will expand nearly 17 times as much as water over the same temperature increase. As a result, tanks and cylinders are never completely filled with propane-gas liquid. Tanks are filled to about 80 to 85 percent of their capacity. This leaves a space above the liquid, which allows the propane liquid to expand freely due to changes in temperature.

There are several important characteristics that you need to understand about LP gases when they are stored in containers. First, heat added to LP gases in a tank or cylinder is transferred directly from the air surrounding the container. Hot days, cool nights, rain and snow are a few of the many factors that affect the temperature of the liquid. Because of these temperature changes, you may see fluctuations in your container gauge.

Why was my tank not completely filled at tank installation?

When tanks are transported on service trucks the Department of Transportation only allows the propane installation company to fill the tank to a maximum of 5 percent, for safety. We then have our delivery truck stop by a few days later to fill your tank.

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Q. DO PROPANE PRICES CHANGE?

A. The price of propane, like any other natural energy resource, fluctuates depending on availability. Therefore, our price from the refinery increases or decreases as the market does.

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Q.IS PROPANE SAFE TO USE IN MY HOME?

A. Propane is a safe fuel to use in your home and business. Propane has a narrow range of flammability and cannot be ingested like gasoline or alcohol fuels because it is released as a vapor from a pressured container. In addition, award-winning preventive maintenance programs like GAS Check® (Gas Appliance System Check) ensure that homeowners understand how to properly maintain their propane appliances and enjoy a healthy, safe environment.

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Q. HOW CAN I BE SURE I’M HANDLING THE USE OF PROPANE GAS PROPERLY IN MY HOME?

A. NPGA has developed a comprehensive maintenance program called GAS Check® (Gas Appliance System Check), in which trained technicians inspect propane systems and appliances in homes to ensure they are running safely and efficiently. The program also educates homeowners on the proper maintenance of propane appliances and how to handle propane safely.

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Q. WHO USES PROPANE?

A. Propane is a trusted and reliable energy source that is used by millions of Americans each day. It fulfills energy needs by burning cleanly and efficiently, giving consumers more value for their energy dollar. People use propane in or outside their homes for furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, outdoor grills and appliances; on farms; for industrial uses such as forklifts and fleet vehicles; and in millions of commercial establishments, including restaurants and hotels that depend on propane for heating, cooking and other uses.

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Q. WHY WOULD I CHOOSE PROPANE OVER ELECTRICITY FOR MY APPLIANCES AND HEATING MY HOME?

A. According to the US Department of Energy it could cost up to twice as much to operate your range, water heater, dryer or furnace with electricity than with propane gas. Propane gas furnaces and heaters provide more consistent warm air throughout your home at a lower cost than electric heat pumps and have a longer average life span of 20 years, compared with electric heat pumps’ 12-year average life span.

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Q. HOW DOES PROPANE COMPARE TO OTHER FORMS OF ENERGY?

A. Propane can be up to 25% less expensive than electricity in most cities. In addition, when tank levels are properly maintained, propane provides a virtually uninterruptible power supply. That is reassuring when “brownouts” or “blackouts” occur when too many users are drawing electricity during high consumption periods, like cold winter months.

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Q. WHAT IS A MATERIAL SAFETY DATA SHEET (MSDS)?

A. A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) is a form providing information on the properties of propane. The MSDS has information regarding health and safety when handling, servicing, or installing propane containers and systems.

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Q. IS PROPANE REALLY A CONVENIENT FUEL?

A. Yes. Propane is stored in portable tanks, so it can be used in areas beyond the natural gas mains. When used in vehicles, propane is also easily replenished and refuels at 10 gallons to 12 gallons per minute, similar to gasoline. More than 10,000 propane-refueling sites are available across the country.

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Q. IS PROPANE DANGEROUS TO THE ENVIRONMENT?

A. No. Propane is an approved, alternative clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the National Energy Policy Act of 1992. Propane is one of the cleanest burning of all alternative fuels; new propane-fueled vehicles can meet the very tough Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) standards, and one model even meets the Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) standards. Propane is also nontoxic, so it’s not harmful to soil or water.

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Some information obtained from www.npga.com