How to Hook Up Your Home Propane Tank

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How to Hook Up Your Home Propane Tank
Large tanks require a lot of work to be installed properly. (gaz tank image by Steve Pelletier from Fotolia.com)

Propane is an odourless, colourless gas that is used as fuel. Many people use a small propane tank for outdoor grills. But propane can be used in the home in heaters, stoves and even in the fireplace. It is unsafe to bring propane cylinders or canisters into the home. Instead, larger appliances are connected to a propane tank outside through a series of pipes. Most states require a licensed professional to install a home propane system, and municipalities may require permits and inspections for any work that requires digging underground. Do not hook up a propane tank yourself, or ask someone to do the work for you, unless you know the requirements of your city or town.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Propane tank
  • Level
  • Wood or stone
  • Shovel
  • 1/2 inch copper pipe
  • Saw
  • 4, 1/2-inch copper 90 degree turns
  • 1 inch PVC pipe
  • Torch brazer
  • Flux
  • Filler metal
  • 2 threaded connectors

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Choose the size tank for your household. The size depends on how many appliances the propane will fuel, as well as how often they are used. For example, if the propane fuels your home's heating system, you may need a large tank. But if the gas just lights a fire in the fireplace a couple times a week, a small tank may suffice.

  2. 2

    Check with your local building codes office for any permits or specifications. In some cases the size of the tank determines what type permit is required.

  3. 3

    Choose a spot in your yard for the tank. The proximity to the house is largely determined by the size of the propane tank. For example a 125-gallon tank or less can be installed next to the house under certain conditions. A 125- to 500-gallon tank must be at least 10 feet from the home and property line. A 500-gallon tank or larger must be at least 25 feet from the home and property line. All tanks must be at least 10 feet from any source of ignition such as an air conditioner or outdoor appliance, and at least five feet from any window.

  4. 4

    Place the empty tank on the chosen spot. Check the level of the tank. Use wood or stone to shim the tank level.

  5. 5

    Dig a trench from just below the gas outlet on the tank to the gas inlet of the house. The trench must be at least 8 inches deep.

  6. 6

    Measure the distance from the gas outlet nozzle to the bottom of the trench. Measure both the nozzle connector and the elbow joint. Subtract these amounts from the measurement. Cut pieces of both copper and PVC to equal the sum.

  7. 7

    Coat the end of the pipe with flux. Place filler metal on top of the flux. Press the nozzle onto the filler. Light the brazing gun and braze the joint, creating an airtight seal.

  8. 8

    Slip the PVC pipe over the copper and braze the elbow joint on the other end of the pipe. The PVC will fit loosely around the copper piping. The PVC forms a protective shield around the copper pipe. While no one should dig or put anything in the ground near a gas line, the PVC is another layer of protection.

  9. 9

    Repeat Steps 6 through 8 for the gas inlet nozzle attached to the house.

  10. 10

    Screw both nozzles in place. Measure the distance from the elbow at the bottom of the outlet pipe to the elbow at the bottom of the inlet. Cut the copper pipe to fit. Cut the PVC two inches shorter. Remove the nozzles.

  11. 11

    Slide the copper pipe inside the PVC. Coat the ends of the pipe with flux and filler metal. Braze the nozzle pipes onto the longer pipe. Slide the PVC pipe out of the way for brazing.

  12. 12

    Attach the pipe to the tank and the house.

  13. 13

    Pressurise the tank. Professional installation services have a special dyed gas that can pinpoint any leaks in the system. This is not available on the consumer market. Be sure to slide the PVC away from the joints to check for leaks.

  14. 14

    Fill in the trench with dirt and fill the tank with propane.

Tips and warnings

  • Many professional installation experts do not routinely add the PVC piping. This is something you must request.
  • You may want to put wooden fencing around your tank. Not only does this hide the tank from view, but it also offers a layer of protection and prevents the tank from getting knocked about.
  • Some areas require that a propane tank be installed underground or on a level concrete pad. Be sure to check with your local codes department.
  • Most states require that propane tanks and pipes be installed by licensed professionals.
  • Propane gas can be dangerous.
  • Teach every family member to recognise the odour of leaking propane. Propane gas is odourless, but during refining a distinctively unpleasant smelling chemical is added so that consumers can detect leaks.
  • Make sure that no one moves a source of ignition near the tank.

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