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Propane tank question


Charlie R
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Didn't know where else to put this so if it's in the wrong forum, I apologize. Here we go - I did an inspection of a 5 year old home (big) that is now bank owned. There was an underground propane tank to service the propane gas tankless water heater, a propane gas furnace (that was the back-up for a heat pump) and a propane gas pool heater (shut down for winter). I opened the lid and found the gas valve closed and the pressure gauge reading zero - no gas and turned off. I put it in the report, everyone understood, I can't test these things. A few days later the agent calls, asks me if I remember who the gas supplier was? I say no, just call and get a supplier to go out, inspect and put some gas in the tank, turn it on to the home. I know they won't do that unless they can go in the home and check everything, then, if you want I'll come back (for a fee) and inspect the gas appliances. The agent says that no supplier she has called will put any gas in the tank unless it's their tank, they all will quote a price to replace the tank with their tank and then fill. Is this just a local thing, State of Maryland (also known as the state of Confusion) thing, or is this a common practice around the nation? If it is common practice, shouldn't we point that fact out, because if the client can't find the original supplier (out of business, bankrupt, etc) the client could have a pretty big bill changing out an underground tank. Thoughts? Experience?

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Quite a few underground (and above ground) propane tanks around here.

The standard here is that ownership of the tank remains with the propane supply company that installed it. You can use it as long as they do the propane. Want to switch companies, then switch tanks.

There's usually a company label on the underside of the tank lid.

Haven't ran into the company being out of business issue, yet.

-

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Quite a few underground (and above ground) propane tanks around here.

The standard here is that ownership of the tank remains with the propane supply company that installed it. You can use it as long as they do the propane. Want to switch companies, then switch tanks.

There's usually a company label on the underside of the tank lid.

Haven't ran into the company being out of business issue, yet.

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I've found the same thing out here. However, it is possible for folks to buy & own their own tanks, in which case any supplier can fill it.

There's a financial incentive to owning your own tank. You can shop around and nearly always get a significantly lower price for propane.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I never said they were local. I have family in NC, an aunt and uncle and several cousins in Smithfield, and my step brother and his family at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

I had considered a small propane stove at my place (it would be cheaper and easier than a pellet stove) to offset my high NG bills, but I don't have a good place to put one.

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Something to note to clients is to make them aware that you as a HI do not know who owns the tank and don't test or inspect whatever.

Around here before in-ground tanks became common the above ground tanks were either owned by the individual or leased from the propane company. Each company had a big label or different company colors to identify their tank.

Becoming familiar with the standard workings in your area and passing along to your client along with a standard disclaimer, both verbal and in the inspection agreement, would be very helpful to the client, as well as keeping you out of range when they take possession of the house and find out they have another expense to pay for the tank lease.

Might even want to recommend having them contact the propane supplier for a look at the tank and general information.

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In my experience, if you want an underground installation, you have to buy the tank. As mentioned above, this will open up the field when shopping for suppliers. More importantly though, was the price break I enjoyed for buying 700-800 gallons at a time. This was a few years ago--not sure if this still holds true.

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Thanks for all the advice. I called around myself and found that at least in that area, most tanks are stilled owned by the supplying company and they won't fill each others tanks. Found the company that had that address, but the agent had already found them also so all is good there. I had a disclaimer I would throw in my report about not inspecting underground tanks (oil or propane) but I am modifying that statement to include the possibility that the propane tank is not actually a part of the property.

Thanks all.

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It is my understanding that in most inspected areas a permit is required for *any* underground storage tank, UST, (such as http://www.spokanecounty.org/bp/data/Brochures/b36.pdf). It will be on a Reg report (you probably do not want to get one of these) and it should have been permitted (as such a permit will be in the file at the local permit office).

I know, unquestionably, that this will not work in all instances - but it may help in many.

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