Propane Tank Recertification for RV Owners – In 3 (EASY) Steps

Propane tank recertification isn’t something RV owners want to think about often. Still, it’s an essential safety measure. The guidelines help prevent tank leaks and potentially harmful outcomes. In some states, the regulations also ensure that tanks have the most updated safety valves in use. If you don’t comply, you could end up with a hefty fine or worse. You don’t have to recertify your tanks often. So, even if you are a seasoned RV owner, you may not remember the details of the process. Luckily, we’ve created this simple step-by-step guide to propane tank recertification.

Complete these three easy steps to get your RV propane tank recertified and get back on the road:

Step 1: Determine your tank’s production or recertification date.

Step 2: Contact a propane retailer near you to confirm they can do your recertification.

Step 3: Bring your tanks to the retailer of your choice. The experts there can inspect them and recertify them for a small fee. Once they deem that your container is safe and up-to-date, it gets a new expiration date.

If your first question is, “where do I find my tank’s production date?” keep reading. A deeper dive into these steps is helpful before starting the process. This article outlines everything you need to know about propane tank recertification. We also answer the most common questions RV owners have about propane tank care.

Complete Guide to Propane Tank Recertification for RVs

Propane tank recertification isn’t an overly complicated process. However, you need to check a few boxes before removing your tanks and bringing them to a supplier. Read through this step-by-step guide to make sure you have everything you need to get started.

Determine Your Tank’s Date

The original manufacture date is the four numbers on the collar of a propane tank. The collar is the rounded metal part of the tank that partially surrounds the valve. The first two numbers are the month, and the last two are the year of the manufacture. For example, 01-10 means the tank’s production date is January 2010.

Also, be sure to check your tank for stickers. Your tank may have had an inspection or recertification since its manufacture date. This date is on the sticker.

Now you only need to do simple math. A new propane tank is due for certification after 12 years. After that, it needs to get recertified every 5 years. If your deadline is approaching or passed, it’s time to pick-up the phone to call a propane expert.

It’s crucial to never lapse on your certification. To make sure you don’t, add a reminder to your digital calendar. Set it to send you an alert two months before the expiration date. An early reminder ensures that you have enough time to get to a dealer and avoid fines.

Contact a Propane Retailer

Only authorized propane experts can recertify your tanks. Even if a business offers propane services, they may not provide recertification. Make sure to call ahead to avoid a wasted trip.

If you need to locate a dealer, there are many resources online to help. Propane.com or a similar site lets you type in your zip code to find a shop near you. If you are on the road, you can use google and search “propane recertification near me.”

Get Recertified

Even if you know your destination is an authorized dealer, it’s always a good idea to call ahead. Check that the dealer is a one-stop-shop for all your propane needs and has all the necessary parts. Recertification requirements are different between states. In some states, tanks need a safety valve replacement at the time of recertification.

The dealer has to inspect the tanks to make sure they are in working order and have no damage. Any crucial repairs need to be completed at that time, or you likely have to start the process over. Once the dealer confirms the tanks are safe, you get a sticker with your new recertification date.

That’s all you have to do to keep your propane tanks safe and up-to-date! Propane tank recertification is an infrequent but critical task for safety. After you’ve completed these three easy steps, you can take this off your to-do list for at least five years.

Frequently Asked Questions About Propane Tank Recertification

If you have more questions about propane tank maintenance, review the following section. We’ve compiled the answers to the most frequently asked questions about propane tank maintenance.

How often does a propane tank need to be recertified?

In the U.S., a propane tank first needs recertification 12 years after its manufacture date. If you are planning on traveling outside of the U.S., look into the regulations before you start your trip. In Canada, for example,  they need recertification every 10 years. Any recertified tank then needs an inspection and certification every 5 years. Check your tank’s dates before long trips to avoid getting stranded or an unwanted detour. It’s illegal to refill an out-of-date propane tank.

How much does propane tank recertification cost?

The starting price for tank recertification varies from business to business. Your total out-of-pocket cost can also vary based on other factors. If the tank has damage or if state regulations call for valve replacement, the cost is higher. A reasonable estimate for recertification is between $5 and $15. A valve replacement averages $15-$20 dollars on top of that. The price to repair any damage can have a wide range, depending on how severe it is. If you have several propane retailers in your area and extra time, shop around to compare prices. Taking this extra step before picking your retailer can save you a few dollars.

Is it better to recertify my tank or get a new one?

If recertification or repurchase is the best value depends on the condition of your tank. If you are looking at costly repairs to recertify, it might make more sense to dispose of your existing tank. Of course, you have to pay the recertification fee to find this out. If you don’t need a professional to tell you that your tank has significant damage, consider buying new. If your tank is in good shape, you save money over time by recertifying your tanks instead of buying new ones. A new tank can run from $35-$70 dollars. This cost is considerably higher than most recertification fees.

Can I get my expired tank recertified?

Yes. If you have an expired tank that appears to be in working condition, you can take it in for recertification. Depending on the tank’s age, you may need to get the valve replaced. Some regulations require a new valve, even if the current one is in perfect working condition. Take extra care when evaluating empty tanks. Caution is especially important if they have been out of use for a while. Leaks and pilot light issues occur when an empty tank sits for some time. Problems are even more common when the valve is open during storage.

Does Propane Ever Expire?

Amazingly, no. Unlike diesel or gasoline, propane does not degrade with time. This property is the reason propane is an ideal choice for off-the-grid living or an emergency fuel supply. The only factor that limits the use timeline of propane is its container.  Steel and aluminum are the most common materials used to make propane tanks. Both are susceptible to either rust or corrosion over time. This degradation is why it’s so crucial to follow recertification guidelines.

Can I get my expired tank refilled?

No, it is illegal to fill an expired tank. If a supplier is offering to do so, they do not have your best interest in mind. Make sure to keep track of your recertification deadlines to avoid this situation.

Can propane tanks fail recertification?

A propane tank can fail inspection if it has too much damage to be reliably repaired. Often extensive rust left untreated corrodes the tank far beyond fixing. If you have unrepairable tanks, dispose of them following safety guidelines. If your tank has significant damage, you may want to skip the recertification process. You might have to pay the inspection fee to confirm that you need a new tank. Use your best judgment to avoid unnecessary fees.

How can I tell if my tank is leaking?

Even tanks within their expiration date can develop leaks. Often the first indicator of a leak is the smell of propane. There may also be a hissing sound. Never use appliances in your RV if you believe there is a leak. Leave your RV and call an expert if the leak appears to be severe. To locate a leak in your tank or the connections, you need a children’s bubble solution or soapy water. Run the solution over the tank and the connectors. Bubbles form anywhere there is a leak. The larger the bubbles, the bigger the leak. If you do not see bubbles, but still smell propane, the leak may be in the valve. The safest solution for a leak is to get it repaired by a propane expert. This way, the tank gets a full safety inspection before it’s back in use.

How should I discard old propane tanks?

You can dispose of your obsolete propane tank by recycling it or bringing it to an exchange program. When trading in, some retailers give you credit to put towards a new tank. If you prefer to recycle your tank, find a local propane supplier that accepts old tanks. You can also transport the tank to a hazardous waste site near you. Before you turn in or dispose of an old propane tank, make sure it’s empty. Any leftover fuel can eventually leak and cause safety issues.

How do I transport propane tanks safely?

Transporting a propane tank in your vehicle can be dangerous. Anytime it’s necessary, make sure to follow these four simple safety guidelines.

  1. Placed Upright: Tanks should always be upright, even when not in transport. Safety valves are inoperative when a tank is on its side.
  2. Secured: It is not safe for a tank to shift or roll. It can cause damage and create a dangerous situation. Make sure to secure the tank enough to avoid shifts during sudden stops or rough driving.
  3. Valve Closed: Avoid dangerous fumes by closing the valve before getting on the road. If possible, transport the tank in a well-ventilated part of your vehicle, such as a truck bed. Never put a propane tank in your trunk.
  4. Attended: Never leave a tank unattended in your car. Temperatures inside a vehicle can get high enough to affect propane. Proceed directly to your destination and remove the tank immediately upon arrival.

If you need to move multiple tanks, check your local regulations. There may be legal limits on the number of propane tanks or the amount of propane you can transport at one time.

Is it better to use a tank exchange program to avoid recertification?

The answer to this question is a matter of preference. It is likely less expensive to recertify and refill your tank than buy a new one with a trade-in discount. However, if you don’t have a convenient, authorized dealer, it may make sense to spend more money to save time.

How should I store my tanks when not in use?

Before you store your tank, make sure your tank valve is completely shut. Then store it uncovered in a dry, well-ventilated area. Always store tanks outdoors, never in a home or garage. Doing so puts these structures and any occupants in danger if a tank leak occurs. Proper propane tank maintenance is key to protecting your RV. Make sure all your tanks are certified and in proper working order before heading out on your next trip. While propane never degenerates, the tanks do. Old or damaged tanks can leak and cause potentially dangerous situations.

Ensure your safety and the safety of those you care about by adhering to this guide. With diligent care and careful observation, you can get many years and many miles out of your tanks.

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