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  1. #1
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    Default Abandoned Propane Tank

    I inspected a home that recently upgraded to natural gas. They abandoned their underground Propane tank and left it there.

    They claimed that the tank was empty and is not a problem.

    Are there any laws that require the removal of these tanks when abandoned?
    What is the proper procedure for ensuring that this abandoned tank is safe.
    I'm worried about residual gas within the tank.

    I wrote it up that they check with local authorites for requirements but I'm curious if there are any written recommendations or laws.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    I inspected a home that recently upgraded to natural gas. They abandoned their underground Propane tank and left it there.

    They claimed that the tank was empty and is not a problem.

    Are there any laws that require the removal of these tanks when abandoned?
    What is the proper procedure for ensuring that this abandoned tank is safe.
    I'm worried about residual gas within the tank.

    I wrote it up that they check with local authorites for requirements but I'm curious if there are any written recommendations or laws.
    I am pretty certain that the liability of the abandoned tank goes with the property. The seller and the buyer are aware of the tank and the buyer needs to decide if he is willing to accept that liability.

    Or course at some date, that tank will have to come out.

    Last edited by Rod Butler; 02-22-2012 at 09:54 AM.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Direct your question to the local AHJ.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Old oil tanks can sometimes be filled with mud or concrete slurry and left in place. Propane, I don't know. Would you like to cut the hole in the top?
    It is a major liability, IMO.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Under certain conditions the odorant in propane may oxidize and lose its distinctive odor. It can be caused by air, water, or rust in a propane tank or cylinder. This could make this tank very dangerous to someone thinking it is completely empty if it is not.



    Galen L. Beasley
    Inspections Supervisor
    Housing Authority of Kansas City MO

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Ken - I think you did the right thing by bringing it to their attention, and telling them to check with local authorities.

    I don't spend much time at all with "what if's" and "what might happen" on these type things unless I feel there is a pending problem, especially on something I can't see.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Are underground LP tanks not rented? If its a rental unit would the propane company not be responsible for the tank?


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Not all propane tanks in Tennessee are rented.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    I would recommend it be removed,that way there will be no liability issues in the future,plain and simple.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Not all propane tanks in Tennessee are rented.
    Not all here either.

    We bought the 2-125 gallon tanks we had in South Florida for our whole house generator.

    Up here, we are renting a 60 gallon tank as it is just for the fireplace, which seldom gets used. We used to go through a tank each year, in less than a year, because our old gas log set was standing pilot. Our new gas log set is electronic ignition with a remote control - sit back on the sofa in front of the fire ... uses no gas while it just sets there waiting for us to use it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    "I would recommend it be removed,that way there will be no liability issues in the future,plain and simple."

    I disagree, unless there was something obviously wrong. I think that telling someone to dig up and remove a buried tank, that "possibly" could have a problem at some undetermined time in the future is overstepping our role as a home inspector.

    Our Standards of Practice require us to inspect certain things and REPORT on systems and components that are "significantly deficient" or "near the end of their service life". A buried tank that is not a problem now, or may not be a problem for 10, 15, or 20+ years is really reaching.

    IMHO


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    I'm surprised that there is no code or regulation regarding abandoned underground propane tanks. You'd think they would have to fill them with water or remove the regulator or controls, to be certain there wasn't any residual gas.

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    ASME Propane Tank Removal and Disposal

    Propane Tank Disposal - Discarding LPG Cylinders


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    From the site...
    Although underground propane tanks can be removed and disposed of, the amount of work involved with unearthing an underground tank is often not the best option. The preferred method of underground tank disposal involves recovering all of the gas and pressure from the tank and then filling the tank with water or sand. The unusable underground tank poses no threat to the soil or environment when left with water or sand. Disposing of an abandoned underground propane in this manner is actually the NFPA approved procedure.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    No soil hazard for LP.
    If the liquid escapes, it will be as a gas....
    I would not worry....


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Hagarty
    No soil hazard for LP.
    If the liquid escapes, it will be as a gas....
    I would not worry....
    Joe,
    What happens if the tank is pressurized, has some residual gas in it and someone digs in the area unknowingly and perforates the tank or knocks off the valve and a fire ensues?

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    Joe,
    What happens if the tank is pressurized, has some residual gas in it and someone digs in the area unknowingly and perforates the tank or knocks off the valve and a fire ensues?
    If the tank is full of sand or water there is no gas!

    The beatings will continue until morale has improved. mgt.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    Joe,
    What happens if the tank is pressurized, has some residual gas in it and someone digs in the area unknowingly and perforates the tank or knocks off the valve and a fire ensues?
    Not likely
    but you do not understand the perceived hazard,,,


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    I have to disagree with those that say removal is not an issue,even though it is not in our standards,if we are aware of some thing that might affect the property,it is our duty to report it,then it is up to our client to seek further opinions or advice.
    Remaining silent is not an option,this applies to all things related to what we do.
    A good example,,you smell a gas leak in the area of the hot water tank,it is not in the standards,so you say nothing,or do you hope the house does not blow up while you are there
    Buried tanks of any sort,in the standards or not,falls under duty to warn,if you know about it.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Although underground propane tanks can be removed and disposed of, the amount of work involved with unearthing an underground tank is often not the best option. The preferred method of underground tank disposal involves recovering all of the gas and pressure from the tank and then filling the tank with water or sand. The unusable underground tank poses no threat to the soil or environment when left with water or sand. Disposing of an abandoned underground propane in this manner is actually the NFPA approved procedure.


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Although underground propane tanks can be removed and disposed of, the amount of work involved with unearthing an underground tank is often not the best option. The preferred method of underground tank disposal involves recovering all of the gas and pressure from the tank and then filling the tank with water or sand. The unusable underground tank poses no threat to the soil or environment when left with water or sand. Disposing of an abandoned underground propane in this manner is actually the NFPA approved procedure.
    Exactly....
    Buried #2 Furnace Oil Tanks
    are
    quite different than
    Buried LP Tanks...

    Environmental impact is beyond comparison.....


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Why do I want a couple hundred pounds of Fe3O4 (rust), regardless of how you treated it, buried under my lawn?
    When you tell me that its there, your going to tell me what hazard it will create and what it will do to my lawnscaping... All that rust and paint leaching into the ground, making to my (or neighbors) drilled/dug well. So how long till it starts to rust inside the tank and cave in... after the sand settles...
    For whatever reason its still underground, you better tell the client, full disclosure....because if I was the client I want it gone or I am gone. Sadly the only thing underground and not visible should be the septic tank and field.

    My call is the tank is written up as something the seller must deal with. Unless my client cant read and fell deaf during the inspection...


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen G View Post

    ... All that rust and paint leaching into the ground, making to my (or neighbors) drilled/dug well. So how long till it starts to rust inside the tank and cave in... after the sand settles...
    For whatever reason its still underground, you better tell the client, full disclosure....because if I was the client I want it gone or I am gone. Sadly the only thing underground and not visible should be the septic tank and field.
    Another with no clue as to the hazard that buried Propane Tanks present.......


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Another one who doesnt read what is written. Where in my writting do you see me advocating having a metal tank underground.
    You may point out where I went wrong in my statement, but you may not infer that I am clueless, its baseless, you didnt read my post.



    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph Hagarty View Post
    Another with no clue as to the hazard that buried Propane Tanks present.......



  26. #26
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen G View Post
    Another one who doesnt read what is written. Where in my writting do you see me advocating having a metal tank underground.
    You may point out where I went wrong in my statement, but you may not infer that I am clueless, its baseless, you didnt read my post.
    and what is the environmental hazard of a buried LP Tank?


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    RUST AND PAINT.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen G View Post
    Why do I want a couple hundred pounds of Fe3O4 (rust), regardless of how you treated it, buried under my lawn?
    When you tell me that its there, your going to tell me what hazard it will create and what it will do to my lawnscaping... All that rust and paint leaching into the ground, making to my (or neighbors) drilled/dug well. So how long till it starts to rust inside the tank and cave in... after the sand settles...
    For whatever reason its still underground, you better tell the client, full disclosure....because if I was the client I want it gone or I am gone. Sadly the only thing underground and not visible should be the septic tank and field.

    My call is the tank is written up as something the seller must deal with. Unless my client cant read and fell deaf during the inspection...



  28. #28
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    I suppose the same logic can be applied to houses that have a well, but are now connected to city water?? That old well casing might rust and just might be a hazard, and maybe pollute someone else's well???
    Give me a break.

    If the tank was filled with sand, just how much settlement would really be in the area of the tank. The tank wall thickness "might" be 1/4". Landscaping seems to be just fine over the millions of buried tanks now, I can't imagine how an empty tank might affect anything growing.

    Harry, your idea of "if we are aware of some thing that might affect the property,it is our duty to report it,then it is up to our client to seek further opinions or advice." is a good way to get our butts in a sling if we start commenting on things that are not in our scope of work. You need to read over the Standards of Practice that you practice by. All of the SOP that I have seen are pretty specific on exactly what we are required to REPORT on. Going beyond that scope could be a problem, especially if we drift over into another Professional's area of expertise.

    Making a big deal out of something that is not currently a problem, or likely to be a problem in the near future, and especially if its a costly "fix" could land you in hot water.

    This tank issue is a perfect example. Clearly some people on this thread do not have an understanding of LPG tanks, and are projecting a potential "problem" where there is no evidence there is OR will be one in the near future. In fact, one source even discourages removal of old LPG tanks.

    To suggest removal based on inaccurate information is something that would look pretty bad should you end up in a court trying to defend your position, when the home seller sues you when his sale went south because the potential buyer walked after the seller refused to remove the tank.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Jack,in Ontario,Canada,abandoned wells must be decomissend,in others words,must be taken out of service
    Nothing inspectors do,is always clear as mud.


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Sorry, I mean realy. We countries have differences and here we are...That tank is a huge issue, I am not pressing the panic button, the client has to know, if I know he knows. It will rust and it will contaminate. I dont care how many homes you claim its okay becuase you say so, are you trying to sell the house or protect the client. ...it will rust away, period.

    You made your call. I made mine.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    I suppose the same logic can be applied to houses that have a well, but are now connected to city water?? That old well casing might rust and just might be a hazard, and maybe pollute someone else's well???
    Give me a break.

    If the tank was filled with sand, just how much settlement would really be in the area of the tank. The tank wall thickness "might" be 1/4". Landscaping seems to be just fine over the millions of buried tanks now, I can't imagine how an empty tank might affect anything growing.

    Harry, your idea of "if we are aware of some thing that might affect the property,it is our duty to report it,then it is up to our client to seek further opinions or advice." is a good way to get our butts in a sling if we start commenting on things that are not in our scope of work. You need to read over the Standards of Practice that you practice by. All of the SOP that I have seen are pretty specific on exactly what we are required to REPORT on. Going beyond that scope could be a problem, especially if we drift over into another Professional's area of expertise.

    Making a big deal out of something that is not currently a problem, or likely to be a problem in the near future, and especially if its a costly "fix" could land you in hot water.

    This tank issue is a perfect example. Clearly some people on this thread do not have an understanding of LPG tanks, and are projecting a potential "problem" where there is no evidence there is OR will be one in the near future. In fact, one source even discourages removal of old LPG tanks.

    To suggest removal based on inaccurate information is something that would look pretty bad should you end up in a court trying to defend your position, when the home seller sues you when his sale went south because the potential buyer walked after the seller refused to remove the tank.



  31. #31
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Janssen View Post
    Jack,in Ontario,Canada,abandoned wells must be decomissend,in others words,must be taken out of service
    Nothing inspectors do,is always clear as mud.
    I have 3 abandoned water wells on my property (90, 150 & 390 feet)
    While not connected to the home, they are not capped or backfilled.

    I paid to drill them,,,
    someone else has to pay to fill them..... if they so require....


  32. #32
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Jack,inspectors do not make the rules,we have to know them,and when confronted with an issue we need to advise our client,then it is up to them to seek further advice. Abandoned wells here must be decommissed,unless they are still be used. Staying silent will get you into trouble,I am well aware of the standards,have been inspecting for more than 25 years.


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    The reason I would want it removed is simply a matter of polution. Not that it might do harm, I would just want it out of the way, like keeping a clean jobsite. Future construction maybe?

    Like doing a plumbing pipe change, I am a believer in removing the old non-used stuff if for nothing more than house keeping purposes.

    I see it as a liability on the property.


  34. #34
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen G View Post
    Another one who doesnt read what is written. Where in my writting do you see me advocating having a metal tank underground.
    You may point out where I went wrong in my statement, but you may not infer that I am clueless, its baseless, you didnt read my post.
    Buried LP Tanks are commonplace here
    what do you perceive to be the hazard????


  35. #35
    David Stoffer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Are underground LP tanks not rented? If its a rental unit would the propane company not be responsible for the tank?

    Little known fact!

    Since either the 1st or 2ed world wars 99% of tanks are owned by the US goverment.

    When you get a tank they are actuall on a 100 year lease.

    Now finding out who the leasing company is and then getting them to remove the tank is a different situation.

    Dave


  36. #36
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    My propane tanks ( 500 and 1000gal) are above ground. I don't know if there is some resale value for an underground tank, but in addition to what you told them, which was fine in my opinion, I would have suggested that they call a propane dealer and see if he would buy the tank from them. Get rid of it and pocket some money.....woohoo!


  37. #37
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    Default Re: Abandoned Propane Tank

    David said "Since either the 1st or 2ed world wars 99% of tanks are owned by the US goverment."

    I would like to see where you got that factoid. Most of the tanks in my part of TN are owned by the propane company that fills them. I have never seen one that said "Owned by the US Govt".


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