Are Old Propane Tanks Hazardous Waste?

If you’re looking to get rid of an old propane tank that you don’t need anymore, you might be wondering about the proper disposal methods. After all, old propane tanks are flammable, and many places won’t take them off your hands.

Propane tanks, regardless of size, are considered hazardous waste and must be carefully disposed of. Smaller tanks can be brought to designated locations for disposal while larger tanks may need to be picked up by a gas company. Never put a tank in the household recycling or trash.

Given the risk propane tanks pose because of how flammable they are, it’s very important to follow guidelines to ensure everyone’s safety. Of course, you don’t always need to get rid of a used propane tank. Let’s take a closer look at what your options are and how to properly deal with an old propane tank.

Is Your Old/Empty Propane Tank Considered Hazardous Waste? 

Rusted Propane Cylinger

Yes, old, empty or damaged propane tanks are considered hazardous waste. Therefore, they cannot be placed in the regular trash or taken out with recycling. This poses a huge risk. Gas can leak out or the tank can get punctured during collection, potentially resulting in a fire.

For small tanks (5-10 gallons) check with your city or county government. They might have a designated location to bring them for disposal. Bigger tanks usually require special removal by a company.

Because of the hazardous waste classification and the danger propane tanks pose, many landfills, recycling centers, and similar places won’t accept them. Extra precaution is needed to get rid of a tank and to find a place that takes them.

What Should You Do With Old Propane Tanks?

If you plan on using your propane tank again, the best thing to do is have it refilled. This can be done by taking it to a propane provider and having it filled up or exchanging the tank for a new, full one. If your tank is stationary, there are companies that will come and fill it up. Some tanks can be used for up to 20 years.

If you use propane for your grill or gas firepit, having a full tank or extra propane is a good idea. This way, you will be sure you won’t run out. For example, you can always get a second tank for your grill to have handy.

For those looking to get rid of a tank, contact a propane company. Tanks can’t be thrown out with the garbage or recycled. This is due to the safety risk, as there could still be gas inside that could catch fire or leak.

Smaller tanks can be brought to a propane provider or, for bigger ones, they can come pick it up. You also can store an empty tank on your property, but it is better and safer to have it removed. Remember, don’t dump out any remaining fuel. This can be dangerous, lead to fire, or cause other damage.

If you do store an empty propane tank on your property, follow these guidelines:

  • Keep it outside, but not in direct sunlight
  • Make sure it’s kept above -44˚F and under 120˚F. Otherwise, too much pressure can build and create a leak.
  • Keep the tank upright
  • Turn off the gas valve
  • Don’t put it near any flammable items

Where Can You Dispose of Propane Tanks? 

The best way to get rid of a propane tank you don’t need anymore is by going through a propane company. Search for one in your area. Many places that rent out equipment and machinery will take them.

Smaller tanks that you can lift yourself can be disposed in this way. For bigger tanks, you may need to find a company to come take them away.

Tanks come in all different sizes, with smaller ones ranging from 1-20 pounds. Standard propane tanks for grills are 20 pounds, and they hold 4.6 gallons of gas. The one-pound versions are for portable grills like those used when camping.

The bigger ones range from 50 gallons to over 100, with some being able to hold over 1,000 gallons.

Tanks for residential use fall somewhere between 100 and 1,000 gallons, with most homes using one that’s around 500 gallons.

If you’re looking to keep a tank but yours is damaged, you can see if a company will exchange it. Many do. Remember, never place it in the garbage or regular recycling. There are plenty of places that will take it and help you properly dispose it, so you should be able to find one in your area.

Another option is to see if there’s a hazardous waste collection nearby or check if your local public works department takes them. Even if these collections aren’t available all the time, towns do conduct them every so often, and you can bring it on the designated day.

How Long Will Empty Propane Tanks Stay Good? 

Old Propane Tank

If they are properly maintained and don’t have damage or dents, stationary tanks can last about 10 years. Many will last much longer, too. These tanks need to be re-certified 10 years from the manufacture date listed and every five years after that.

Remember, you can always keep a tank if it’s in good condition and then have it refilled. This would be a much less expensive option than replacing it. Here are some items to look for when checking the tank and performing maintenance.

  • If you have an underground tank, check the anti-corrosion coating
  • Check all connectors
  • Inspect vents
  • Test for leaks
  • Monitor fuel quality
  • Disconnect the tank when not in use
  • Make sure it is level on the ground

If you use propane to heat your home, many providers offer automatic delivery so you don’t need to worry about running out or checking fuel levels.

Proper care and maintenance will help your tank last longer. It has the potential to last for decades. When disposing of a tank, follow guidelines, safety precautions and contact a propane supplier so it can be done correctly.

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