Liquefied petroleum gas is sold as propane, butane or a mixture of the two. Because it's pressurised, flammable, heavier than air and pools if it leaks, LPG is considered more hazardous than gasoline or diesel. LPG is typically used on boats for heating water, refrigeration and cooking.
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A licensed installer should do the initial installation of an LPG system on a boat. Organizations such as the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Boat and Yacht Council have established standards and guidelines for LPG systems on boats that cover design, installation and maintenance.
Because LPG is highly flammable, pressurised and denser than air, it is considered more hazardous than gasoline or diesel. Attention must be paid to the storage of LPG cylinders. They should be stored upright to minimise risks of leakage around valves. Cylinders and regulators should be in an open area above deck, where any leaks can filter over the side of the boat. Cylinders should be at least 39 inches (1 meter) from vents or port holes. Storage lockers should be well-ventilated, out of heat or direct sunlight and sturdy enough to protect the cylinders in a collision.
Leaks are a serious concern on boats where LPG gas is used. Because LPG is heavier than air, it "falls" to settle in low areas, where it can linger for some time. LPG gas can be explosive if ignited in concentrations as low as 2 to 10 per cent. LPG systems on boats should be regularly checked for leaks. The "bubble test" involves brushing soapy water over all valves and joints and along the full length of rubber hoses, when the cylinder is turned on but the stove is turned off. If gas leaks from any of these places, bubbles will form from the leak spot. The affected area should be replaced or professionally serviced. Gas fuses can be installed to detect leaks inside of the stove and other areas where the bubble test is impractical. A licensed professional should repair interior leaks.
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