When Do Propane Tanks Expire?
Propane is really handy to have in the RV. RVers love it for the heat it creates as it burns. This heat is used for warming the RV, cooking, and heating water. Many RVs also have a 2- or 3-way fridge that uses a small propane flame to refrigerate food when you aren’t hooked up to power.
Although we always use propane in its gas form, propane isn’t transported or stored as a gas. Instead, propane gas is compressed by 270 times until it reaches a liquid state (LPG), so we can easily transport and store it.
RVers transport or store propane in either propane cylinders or a propane tank, depending on what type of RV they have. Because the two terms are often used interchangeably by RVers, they could mean either one when asking, “Do propane tanks expire?”
In this article, we’ll look at the differences between propane cylinders and propane tanks and tell you everything you need to know about propane tank expiration and recertification.
On trailers, propane is transported and stored in DOT-approved propane cylinders. We all know DOT stands for Department Of Transportation. You might be wondering, “What does propane have to do with the DOT?”
The answer is that the DOT makes sure propane cylinders are safe enough to withstand the rigors of being transported separately from the RV for refilling. Propane cylinders frequently used for RVs are 20 lb, 30 lb, or 40 lb.
Do propane cylinders expire?
The short answer is that propane cylinders only expire if they are damaged beyond repair. However, every propane cylinder is required to be inspected and recertified every 10 years.
The collar on a propane cylinder is designed to protect the valve from damage, but the DOT makes sure it has some important information stamped on it.
If you look on the collar of the cylinder, you’ll find a date stamp that gives you the month and year that the tank was manufactured. Every 10 years after that date, the tank will need to be visually inspected by a certified technician for wear and tear to ensure it can still be safely used.
The inspector will check the following:
- The cylinder collar is intact and in good condition
- Check for leakage
- Make sure the paint is still on it
- Ensure rust is no deeper than surface
- Check the bottom of the cylinder
- Measure the depth of any dents
If your tank passes inspection, the inspector will put a sticker with the inspection date on it. In the US, you’ll need to get the cylinder re-inspected 5 years after recertification. In Canada, you will have 10 years after recertification before you need to have the propane cylinder recertified again.
Many RVers see this as a hassle when there is an easier option. Instead of recertifying their cylinders, they choose to trade it in for another tank at a propane tank exchange like Tank Traders. Typically, the exchange company will then inspect the cylinder and recertify it themselves. After the cylinder is recertified, they put it into their trade-in program.
ASME Propane Tanks
ASME stands for American Society Of Mechanical Engineers. The society developed ASME propane tanks to be permanently mounted in motorhomes.
ASME tanks never require recertification, although you should visually inspect them from time to time (about every 6 months) and ensure that any rust isn’t deeper than surface rust. Pitted areas will mean the metal is weakened and you should replace your tank.
If you see surface rust on your ASME tank, you should brush off any loose rust, and paint it with a rust converter. The rust converter will be black when it dries. For aesthetic reasons. you’ll probably want to paint over it with acrylic paint that matches your tank.
The gauge on an ASME tank will eventually wear out. Some are clip-on models, an easy DIY. Others need to be replaced by a propane tank company.
Get tips from other RVers
Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.