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Modifications required for propane tanks

March 14, 2002|BY KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Maryland residents who cook steaks and burgers on some older grills with propane tanks will have to have the tanks modified to comply with safety regulations or buy new tanks, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Those whose grills are equipped with 4-pound to 40-pound propane tanks manufactured before June 30, 1998, must have the tanks modified by April 1 if they want to have them refilled, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

The alternative to having the older propane tanks modified is to buy a tank with a shut-off valve designed to keep the tanks from being overfilled, NFPA said.

An overfilled tank can release gas that could cause an explosion, said Theodore Lemoff, principal gas engineer for NFPA, a nonprofit agency that establishes safety standards commonly adopted by governments.

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Propane tanks manufactured after June 30, 1998, are equipped with a triangle-shaped safety device, he said.

"If you have a round handle, it needs to be replaced. If it's a triangle, you're OK," Lemoff said.

The triangle-shaped safety shut-off knob works with an interior device that monitors the volume of propane gas poured into a tank, Lemoff said.

The safety valve shuts off the flow of gas when the tank is 80 percent full, he said.

"It has a float like your toilet," which prevents the water from overflowing, he said.

The safety measure was necessary to maintain public safety since not all propane distributors are experienced at filling tanks, he said.

"They're easy to overfill," Lemoff said.

Propane tank owners have the option of paying to have a safety shut-off valve installed or buying a new tank, said Randy Thompson of Thompson's Gas & Electric Service in Boonsboro.

The safety devices must be installed by professionals since they have the correct tools, Thompson said.

A replacement valve and labor costs typically are $30 to $35 and must be visually inspected every five years, he said. A new tank will cost about $44.95 and should be inspected every 12 years, he said.

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