Tips from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
Prevent Broken Gas Pipes and Fires:
Safety Tips for Propane Tank Care During Heavy Snow Conditions
Extraordinary snowfall in the mountains of California, Nevada, and Utah created deep snow that damaged propane pipes and tanks. Consumers trying to clear their roofs pushed heavy snow onto propane tanks, damaging the pipes and fittings, causing gas leaks. Some fires occurred, causing injuries and deaths. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) suggest the following safety tips for proper care of propane tanks in severe snowstorms:
- Use a broom instead of a shovel when clearing snow off the tank or around the exposed piping, regulator, gauges, or tubing.
- When clearing the roof, avoid shoveling snow onto exposed piping around the propane regulator near the building or onto the propane tank and piping, as well as any meters or other piping that may be in use.
- Check regulator vents on the propane system to be sure they are free of snow, ice or water that could freeze. (A two-stage system has a regulator on the tank and at the entrance of the propane piping to the building; a single regulator is on the tank.) If a regulator vent is clogged with ice or snow, contact your propane supplier immediately.
- Check all gas appliance exhaust and combustion air vents, such as dryer or furnace vents, to be sure they are kept clear of snow and ice.
Before a snow storm occurs:
- In areas where heavy snows are expected, cover the regulator, relief valves, and fill valves with a protective cap or “dome.” This dome will keep out snow, ice, or rain which might clog the regulator if it freezes. In systems using more than one regulator, or where the cover is not in place, make certain the exposed regulator vent is in the downward position to keep out moisture.
- Prior to heavy snowstorms, mark the location of the propane tank and other equipment with snow stakes which should extend well above the maximum anticipated snow depth. Consumers whose tanks and piping are not presently marked should mark them now.
The National Propane Gas Association is the trade association representing the propane gas industry. Contact local propane suppliers for more information about propane gas tanks and heavy snow conditions.