The Doolittle Rural Fire Protection District (DRFPD) responded to a residence in Newburg for a 1,000-gallon propane tank leak on Monday that serves as an example of the impact extreme heat can inflict on propane tanks.
Given the National Weather Service is predicting high temperatures this week in Phelps County, and the safety relief valve is one of the most vital valve’s on an LP Gas container, the DRFPD has provided residents with essential pressure relief valve information.
The DRFPD responded with rescue pumper 6614 to the residence in Newburg, on Monday. Responders said the homeowner lost a substantial amount of propane due to the ambient heat, which caused the 1,000-gallon propane tank to vent through the safety relief valve.
The crew from rescue pumper 6614 spent close to 15 minutes cooling the tank below the venting temperature saving the homeowner propane. “We were able to rig the hose to where it would constantly cool the tank through tomorrow evening,” the DRFPD said on Monday.
All propane tanks and cylinders are required by law to be fitted with a pressure relief device designed to relieve excess pressure, the DRFPD says. The function of a safety relief valve is to keep a propane tank from rupturing in the unlikely event of excessive pressure buildup and is also known as pop-off valves, pressure venting valves or relief valves.
Due to the safety relief valve’s role in the protection of the propane tank, the DRFPD has provided essential information about pressure relief valves to aid residents.
The DRFPD says:
— Safety relief valves should be maintained and repaired by licensed propane professionals only.
— Tanks must be empty before relief valves can be replaced.
— Safety relief valves may need to be replaced if they "pop-off,” meaning that the valve has opened.
— A protective cover should be placed over the relief valve to ensure proper operation. If the valve has debris in the upper mechanism of the relief valve and it opens, the debris may cause the valve to remain open; resulting in a potentially dangerous situation, and excessive loss of propane. A simple protective relief valve cover can be made from a plastic bag fastened around the external portion of the valve with a rubber band.
— If you encounter a relief valve that seems to be "hissing,” opened to relieve pressure, do not tap it or mess with it. If the tank has been recently filled in hot weather and the face gauge reads over 80 percent or 85 percent, spray some water from a hose on the tank, which may cool it down and reduce the expansion of the liquid in the tank.
Lastly, the DRFPD says, call your propane company immediately and inform them of the situation.