How To Tell If Home Propane Tank Is Empty

What do you do when it becomes unbearably cold? Some people drink hot beverages or wear several layers of clothes to stay warm. Heaters that depend on propane typically get fuel from an outdoor tank on the property. It is important to be aware of how much fuel is in the tank, so you don’t run out of fuel before you schedule your next propane delivery. An empty propane tank will cause the heater and other propane-fired appliances to stop working. This will cause extreme inconvenience and stress. If you think you are out of propane, then keep reading. This article discusses how to determine if your home propane tank is empty.

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How To Check Propane Tank Levels

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Well-maintained heaters usually last for ten years or more. Learn more about your heating system, including the propane tank, to ensure smooth ownership for many years. For instance, knowing how to check the fuel level in your propane tank prevents it from going empty. This storage tank has a thick opaque wall, so you cannot just do a quick visual check from afar. Fortunately, you can utilize simple strategies to determine the remaining amount at any time. Here are helpful steps you can take to monitor the tank’s contents:

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Using a Propane Tank Gauge

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Most propane tanks are equipped with mechanisms, like propane tank gauges, for fuel volume measurement. This gauge will show you the current amounts, so check it for updates. Buy an aftermarket gauge and get this installed if your tank doesn’t have one. The dial will show you the propane percentage inside the tank. Multiply it by the tank capacity to determine the actual volume. For example, if your 400-gallon tank reads at 60%, you have around 240 gallons left. Make it a habit to check the gauge every week to learn your consumption rate. This will help you understand how long your propane will last.

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Related Article: How Big Does My Home Propane Tank Need To Be?

Warm Water – Cool Hand Method

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You don’t always require a precise number. Don’t worry if you can’t find the gauge or if it is broken. Sensing the surface temperature can help you estimate the tank level. Pour warm water on the tank’s surface and run your hand along it. A significant change in temperature between the liquid fuel and the space will be noticeable. Check when it starts to get cold. This is your propane’s maximum reach currently. It should become lower over time. Book the next propane delivery before it becomes too low.

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Simple Math Calculations

You can do simple math calculations to get accurate estimates if you are handy with numbers. To do this, get the propane tank’s volume. If you only have its weight capacity in pounds, divide it by 4.2 to know its equivalent in gallons. The second step is determining the heating system’s consumption rate in British Thermal Units (BTUs). BTU is the amount of heat needed to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. This is a good measure of the heat content of different fuels and other energy sources.

A gallon of propane can generate 91,452 BTUs of thermal energy. Look for the label on your heater to determine its BTU rating, and divide it by 91,452 BTUs. For instance, a system with 30,000 BTUs will use around 0.328 gallons per hour or 7.87 daily and 236.19 gallons monthly. Whereas a system with 50,000 BTUs installed in a larger home will use 0.547 gallons per hour, 13.12 gallons per day, and 393.65 gallons per month.

These numbers assume a brand-new heating system and continuous operation. Remember that the older the heating system gets, the lower its efficiency becomes. Remember this when doing your calculations. These consumption rates should assist you in estimating how long your tank will last.

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Why Schedule Your Propane Refill at 30%

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Do not wait until your tank is completely empty before calling for a propane refill. Professional propane providers recommend booking a fuel delivery when the fuel level drops to 30%. This buffer allows you to have some wiggle room in case the fuel delivery is delayed due to supply problems, fleet availability, bad weather, or traffic congestion. Better safe than sorry!

The weather can take a turn for the worst at any time. Fuel consumption rate can spike if the temperature drops. You may think your supply will last for a week, but it may only keep you warm for several days. Don’t wait until you have a dangerously low supply. Calling for delivery at 30% is a good rule of thumb.

Check for signs of tank leaks before getting more propane. You must fix leaks right away to prevent fuel waste and fires. Call for professionals to come over to clean it up and get repairs.

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Related Article: Propane Use In The Summer: What’s Normal?

Why is Running Out of Propane Bad

Here are several reasons running out of propane is bad:

  • Non-functional Appliances: All the appliances using propane will stop working when it runs out. Your heater cannot shield you from the cold weather. This means your propane stove can’t cook meals, and your propane water heater cannot provide warm showers.
  • Rust Build-up: Air moves inside the tank as fuel moves out. When moist air occupies the space, it can result in internal corrosion if you let it persist. This weakens the tank walls and results in leaks. Rust can also mask the propane smell, so you will not notice the leak immediately. It will quietly worsen while you are unaware of the issue.
  • Property Damage: The warmth your heating system generates isn’t just good for your family. It also benefits your house by keeping your pipes from freezing and bursting. This problem will need expensive repairs if it happens.
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Related Article: Do I Have to Worry About My Propane Freezing?



Letting your propane tank run out is dangerous, inconvenient, and costly. You should keep track of its contents during the cold months to prevent unwanted surprises. Use the techniques listed in this article to estimate the volume and schedule deliveries when it’s around 30%. It will help ensure you have stress-free ownership. Diligence is the key!

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Call Tevis Energy For Superior Propane Delivery Services

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Contact Tevis Energy when you require superior propane delivery service in Central Maryland and Southern Pennsylvania. We provide top-quality fuel deliveries that are quick, cost-effective, and friendly. Count on us to provide you with unbeatable services at all times. Call us today to find out the various delivery plans and financing options we offer.

We also offer a full line of heating and cooling services to improve your home’s energy efficiency, comfort, and indoor air quality. Our services include HVAC maintenance, installations, replacements, and repairs. Call Tevis Energy today to get started.

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