Propane Education & Safety
What is Propane?
Propane is a hydrocarbon (C3H8), sometimes referred to as liquefied petroleum gas, LP-Gas, or LPG. It is produced from both natural gas processing and crude oil refining. While propane is used as a gas, it is transported and stored as a liquid under high pressure in specially designed containers referred to either as tanks or cylinders. When liquid propane changes into a gas vapor, it expands in volume by about 270 times, meaning that propane is very economical to store and transport as a liquid rather than as a gas vapor. This characteristic also means that even a small leak of liquid propane can result in a much larger quantity of propane vapor, which can be dangerous in a confined space.
If stored and handled properly, propane is very safe. However, if propane is not properly and safely stored and handled, it can cause property damage, injuries, or even death. For this reason, it is important for your safety to have a thorough understanding of the properties and characteristics of propane and the hazards and risks associated with its use.
Properties & Characteristics of Propane
- In its natural state, propane is an odorless and colorless gas.
- A chemical odorant is added to propane to give it a distinct smell.
- Propane is stored as a liquid under pressure in tanks and cylinders.
- In most residential applications, propane is used as a vapor.
- If propane comes in contact with your skin, it can result in frost burns.
- Concentrations of propane may cause flash fires or explosions.
- Propane vapor is heavier than air, and it may collect initially at floor levels or in other
low areas before it begins to dissipate; therefore, to check for the presence of propane,
carefully smell all over a room, especially in low spots.
- Even a slight gas odor may signal a serious propane gas leak and you should take
immediate action if you smell gas or suspect a leak.
Know the Odor of Propane
In its natural state, propane is odorless and colorless. A chemical odorant has been added to give a distinct smell to the propane. The purpose of the odorant is to help people detect the presence of propane. It is important that everyone involved be able to distinguish the smell of odorized propane. Under certain conditions, a person may be prevented from smelling the odorant, i.e.:
- Cold, allergies, congestion or other similar medical conditions.
- Use of tobacco, alcohol and/or drugs.
- Decline in a person’s sense of smell.
- Olfactory fatigue from being exposed to the odorant for a period of time.
- Odor masking where strong odors can overpower the smell of the odorant.
- Leaking gas passing through soil may reduce the smell of the odorant.
- The odorant in the propane may not awaken a sleeping person.
If you Smell a Leak
- DO get everyone out of the home or facility and away from the site.
- DO NOT attempt to find the leak.
- DO NOT attempt to repair your equipment or light your pilot light.
- DO NOT turn on or off light switches.
- DO NOT use a telephone inside the home or facility or nearby area.
- DO NOT light matches anywhere inside the home or facility.
- DO attempt to shut off the valves at the tank
- DO call Propane Northwest and the fire department for help from a telephone away
from the home or facility.
Propane Gas Detectors
- Propane gas detectors are available as an extra measure to detect leaks.
- Gas detectors are only an aid and are not intended to reduce or eliminate proper safety procedures when a person smells the odor of gas, even when the alarm on the gas detector has not been activated.
- If is extremely important to follow manufacturer’s instructions when installing a detector.
- When selecting a gas detector, you should only choose detectors that are listed with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Maintaining Your Propane System
The propane system at your home or business should be installed, maintained and repaired only by qualified personnel. Call a qualified service technician to light or re-light pilot lights on your appliances.
- DO NOT bleed gas lines into enclosed areas.
- DO NOT tamper with gas controls on your appliances.
- DO NOT use appliances that have been flooded or have become wet, since the controls can be damaged or become rusty and malfunction, causing the safety feature built into the controls to permit a dangerous leak of propane.
- DO have wet or flooded appliances and controls serviced immediately.
- DO NOT let your propane system run out of propane. If it happens, turn off the gas valve
on the tank or cylinder and call us!
- DO have your propane system and all appliances periodically checked by a qualified service technician for proper operation and safety.
- Not maintaining all of your appliances in good repair can result in potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Improperly vended appliances can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning may include on or more of the following: eye irritation, headaches, dizziness, sleepiness or excessive moisture buildup on the inside
- If you identify any of the above-noted symptoms, ventilate immediately (open windows and doors) and call a qualified service technician for help. Never use camping equipment or portable heaters that are not designed for recreational vehicles.
- Consider installing one or more carbon monoxide detectors inside of your home or recreational vehicle, which may sound an alarm to warm you of the presence of carbon
Small Cylinder Safety
- Use only DOT-approved cylinders that are in good condition.
- Propane will expand and contract depending on the temperature.
- Cylinders should only be filled to 80% of capacity.
- Never use propane from a cylinder without a regulator.
- Do not use matches or lighter to check for leaks.
- Turn off the valves on the cylinder when not using.
- Never store a cylinder indoors or in an enclosed vehicle.
- When transporting a cylinder, make sure that it is secured and in the upright position, so that the valves are in the vapor space.
- Never smoke or have open flames near propane cylinders.
- When filling cylinders attached to your vehicle, be sure that all sources of ignition are shut off; this includes pilot lights and vehicle engines.
WHY CHOOSE PROPANE?
Choosing propane is the smart choice.
As energy prices continue to fluctuate, millions of homeowners still choose propane because it’s the same clean, safe, reliable energy source it’s always been. We’re here to help you understand some of the factors influencing the energy industry, while providing ways to conserve resources and save you money.
What causes rising energy prices?
In recent years, virtually every fuel source has experienced an increase in price. Three main factors contribute to higher propane prices:
- Higher Crude Oil and Natural Gas Prices. Because propane is produced from both crude oil and natural gas, its price generally follows those energy sources.
- Seasonal Weather Conditions. Colder temperatures during the winter months increase the demand for propane, particularly for home heating, which reduces supplies and leads to higher prices.
- International Influences. The global propane market is constantly changing. New customers all over the world are turning to propane as a home energy source. As a result, there is increased competition for propane, which means higher prices.
How to lower your energy costs.
Some simple steps you can take to lower your energy bill year-round:
- Inspect and tune up your heating system regularly. Contact your local propane retailer to ask about a home heating system inspection. A properly installed and maintained heating system is efficient and safe.
- Change your furnace filter monthly. Clean filters will increase efficiency. If on a monthly payment plan, use receipt of your monthly propane bill as a reminder.
- Invest in a programmable furnace thermostat timer that lowers your home’s temperature when you are not at home. You can cut annual heating bills by as much as 10% per year by turning your thermostat back 10-15% or eight hours per day.
- Protect against drafts by caulking and weather-stripping around windows, doors, and other openings.
- Close vents and doors in unused rooms. Make sure your attic and basement are properly insulated.
- Decrease your water heating bill by turning down your water heater from the standard 120 degrees to 115 degrees.
- Install flow-restricting shower-heads and reduce hot water usage by up to 50% without affecting shower pressure.
- Run washing machines and clothes dryers with a full load.
Create your energy plan.
- If you’re not on a regular delivery schedule, you should consider filling your propane tank before the start of the heating season – don’t wait until it is empty.
- Discuss payment plan options with Propane Northwest. Some retailers will help you spread your projected annual cost of propane over many months, spreading out the costs of seasonally higher bills.
- The federal government is offering tax credits, which are available for certain home improvements. These include high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment such as propane water heaters and furnaces. For more information visit energytaxincentives.org.
Clean Energy for The Home
Propane Northwest offers our customers in Oregon and Washington a variety of options and packages to meet your fuel needs. Whether it’s cozy moments around the fire’s glow, the aroma of a wonderful dinner wafting through the house, warmth in every room of your home, or a piping hot bubble bath, propane is a decision you can live with comfortably.
Clean Energy for The World
Propane is a byproduct of natural gas processing and petroleum refining. What does this mean? This means that not only is Propane an economical solution to clean energy, it also emits less than half of the greenhouse gas emissions of electricity and is not harmful to soil or water. Propane is a nontoxic product that is not water soluble, which puts our happy customer’s minds at ease!
If you are a business, Propane Northwest helps you manage your bottom line. Its cost-efficiency and reliability mean you can count on Propane Northwest to help you keep your operating costs down and your productivity high. Dependability is number one when it comes to choosing Propane for your business. Propane NW is proud to remain an independent provider of Propane Gas to Oregon and Washington. Being Locally Owned means that when you call, we answer. Busy business owners know, challenges can come out of nowhere. Propane NW builds relationships with our clients and provides the kind of customer service that leads to long-lasting, hassle-free supply of Propane!
BEST IN THE INDUSTRY
Washington and Oregon’s Best Propane Company
From the beginning, one of our goals has been to recruit and retain the finest employees available. With our on-going employee safety training and technical certification classes you can rest assured that the Propane Northwest technician servicing your family’s propane needs is among the most qualified in the industry. From our helpful customer service representatives to our skilled technicians, we are a company that handles all of your propane requirements. Call your nearest regional office today to speak with a representative about how Propane provided by the skilled staff at Propane NW can enhance your home or business, and bring you piece of mind!
Propane Energy Savings Tips
How to keep your winter energy bills from giving you the cold shoulder.
Change your furnace filter monthly
Clean filters help your heating system work more efficiently.
Turn down your thermostat.
You can cut annual heating bills by as much as 10 percent per year by turning your thermostat back 10-15 percent for eight hours per day.
Get a timer.
Investing in a furnace thermostat timer saves you money by lowering your home’s temperature when you’re not at home.
Keep Jack Frost from sneaking in.
Reduce the air leaks in your home by caulking, and weather stripping windows, doors and other openings.
Discuss payment options with Propane Northwest.
We will help you spread your projected annual cost of propane over many months, lowering the costs of seasonally higher bills. Options include 90 days same as cash, Level Pay, Visa, Master Card, American Express, Cash, and Check.
Watch those fans.
Use kitchen, bath, and other ventilating fans wisely; in just 60 minutes, these fans can pull out a houseful of warmed or cooled air. Turn fans off as soon as they have done the job.
Keep your vents unobstructed.
Arrange furniture and draperies so they do not block radiators, vents or baseboard units.