How to Change Propane Gas Cylinders

Updated February 21, 2017

Propane gas cylinders have made camping a far more enjoyable experience for many people then it ever was before. Propane allows campers to enjoy cooked food, hot showers, heat and more while in the wild or on the road. Depending on the size of your propane gas cylinder you may have to change the cylinder sooner rather than later. The process is easy, simply disconnect the cylinder, get a replacement (or have yours refilled) and reconnect it.

Make sure that the valve for the tank that is attached to your appliance is completely off. Look at the top of the handle, grab it firmly and turn it in the direction indicated on the handle that is "Off." If, for some reason, the handle of your propane gas cylinder is not marked, turn it as far as you can clockwise.

Open the appliance feed to bleed out any gas left in the line. For example, if you are changing a tank attached to a stove or grill, turn the burner on. You should smell the gas escaping; when you cannot smell it anymore, the line is clear. Close the line.

Turn the locknut that holds the gas line to the outlet of the tank counter clockwise. If you have a difficult time doing this, wrap a hand towel around the nut and turn it. This will give you a better grip. These locknuts should only be tight end by hand, so you should need no tools to loosen them. Remove the hose from the tank.

Undo any straps or clips holding the tank into place and lift it from the holder. Place it down on the ground, still standing upright, while you replace the tank with the new one.

Lift the new tank into the holder. Turn the tank so the outlet attachment is facing towards the gas line for the appliance. Attach the gas line to the tank by holding it level, pushing it into the outlet and spinning the locknut clockwise until you can no longer turn it by hand.

Remove the old tank and dispose of it properly. Often, you will have to remove the old tank first and bring it to your propane supply source to exchange the tank for a full replacement tank and they will take care of the disposal or refilling of the tank.


If you are not getting a good enough grip with a hand towel to loosen the locknut, grab the locknut with a dish sponge and turn it. The cellulose of the sponge will provide an even more intense grip, but don't use a wet sponge as you do not want to introduce any liquid into the line.


Never use a metal tool (like a crescent wrench) to undo the locknut on a gas line. The potential for your metal tool causing a spark against the metal of the nut is too great and this could cause the tank to explode.

Things You'll Need

  • Hand towel (if needed)
  • Sponge (if needed)
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About the Author

Cassandra Tribe has worked in the construction field for over 17 years and has experience in a variety of mechanical, scientific, automotive and mathematical forms. She has been writing and editing for over 10 years. Her areas of interest include culture and society, automotive, computers, business, the Internet, science and structural engineering and implementation.