Lessons learned about propane
I mentioned two weeks ago in my Friday gathering post that as a result of moving into our home, I’m having to learn a bunch of new things due to our new house and the new area we live in. The trend of learning continues.
As I write this, I am sitting next to a nice, warm gas fire. It’s 6 degrees outside, so I’m very thankful for it. Our gas fireplace keeps our middle main living floor nice and cozy. Two weeks ago though it wouldn’t have as we ran out of gas.
Finding propane gas
When we purchased our home, it had two 100 pound propane gas tanks under the deck to provide gas for the fireplace. There was gas in the tanks, but less than I expected as we ran out just a few weeks after the cold weather kicked in. Thus began my quest to get the two tanks re-filled.
Driving to and from town, I had noticed a propane gas company that I thought I would check out first. I drove over, explained the gas set-up and asked if I could just bring the tanks over and have them filled. The lady sorta laughed and explained to me that 100lbs tanks are indeed just that, 100lbs a piece when full. She also told me that it was illegal to transport them in a car and that they needed to be kept upright and carried in a truck a specified distance from the “cabin” area. Oh…didn’t know that. She said they would be more than glad to bring me out replacement tanks, but installing a larger refillable tank would be a better option.
She estimated that a 120 gallon tank would be appropriate and then began to write down the initial order. This included leasing a tank for a yearly fee, the price per gallon for the initial fill, and the service charge for installing it. I asked when she could get it installed…3 weeks! With the cold kicking in, I didn’t want to wait that long.
Closer to our home, I thought I had seen another gas company so I headed down that way. They were closed for lunch. So I headed home, dug out the phone book in hopes I could find someone that could install a tank sooner. I also wanted to verify the information provided by the first company I talked to.
Using competition to my advantage
I ended up talking with about 5 different companies whom all quoted me different rates and additionally guaranteed to beat the lowest offer I received. It would seem that propane gas service is a competitive market here in the mountains. I began calling the various companies and playing their offers against each other. I finally ended up getting a really low quote from a company that seemed very friendly and received good recommendations from a few of my neighbors along with the guys that installed the gas fireplace.
There were all out of the 120 gallon tanks, but they felt that a 100 gallon would be large enough for our needs. They came out that day and surveyed our property to make sure they could deliver and place the tank. Two days later they came to install it.
The service guy that did the install was incredibly nice. He did a high quality job doing the install including doing a gas leak test and ensuring our gas fireplace was operating correctly. He took the time to overview how to operate the tank, the fireplace and how to know and detect any problems. He never once acted like he was in a hurry and answered all of my questions thoroughly.
After he left I was very pleased with my decision. Not only did I end up getting a much better deal than was first offered to me, I also worked with a company that really seemed to put customer service and quality high on their list. That seems to be a rare find these days. Definitely pays to shop around.
Lessons on propane
I learned a few things through all of this and wanted to share them with you:
- Use a professional – While propane gas and it’s associated connections might seem straight forward, don’t be fooled. There is much more to it. It’s also very dangerous, and the risk of not having something properly installed or working just isn’t worth the money you might save. Leave the install to the professionals who are certified and trained.
- Leave a window cracked - I have a ventless gas fireplace. While mine is a high end unit that was professionally installed, making sure you have adequate ventilation and a fresh supply of oxygen is important. Modern ventless gas fireplaces have both built in CO and oxygen depletion detectors, but they can fail. Don’t take the risk. Just crack a small window and allow some fresh air in. If you don’t have ventless fireplace, than you don’t need to worry about this.
- Install CO detectors – CO (Carbon Monoxide) is a odorless and deadly gas. It is produced during the combustion process when oxygen levels are low. Installing CO detectors can literally save your life. They should be installed near sleeping areas and high up and generally CO gas rises with the heat in your home. Always follow the manufacturers recommended installation instructions. I have three, one near our fireplace, one in our master bedroom and one near our children’s bedrooms in the hallway.
- Propane stays low – All gas used for heating contains a chemical additive that smells bad. This is done so you can quickly note a gas leak. Be aware though, natural gas rises as it’s lighter than air. Propane though is heavier and stays low. Leaking propane will generally stay below 18″ above the floor, so you may have to stoop down to smell it.
Do you use propane as a primary or supplemental heating source? Did lease or buy your tank? What size tank do you have and why did you go with that size? Have a helpful tip? Add a comment!
Photo by: mulmatsherm