Propane valve rule waived for horizontal tanks

To the editor:

Steve D’Antonio’s recent article on propane (“LP tanks now require overfill-prevention valves,” Issue 122, May/June 2002) contains an error. I have two horizontal 20-lb aluminum propane tanks made by Worthington. When I first read about the new law concerning overfill-prevention devices (OPDs), I contacted Worthington to ask about retrofitting the valves to make them compliant with the new law. They told me it could not be done, and I would have to buy two new tanks. What I failed to ask them is, “Does the new law apply to the horizontal tanks?”

Like D’Antonio, I assumed that the new law meant all tanks. What I found out, after many hours of phone calls, is that there are a few exemptions to the law. I refer to page 72 of the LP-Gas Code Handbook, Section A., Exception #2: “Cylinders manufactured prior to October 1, 1998, and designed for use in the horizontal orientation for which an overfilling prevention device is not available. Such cylinders shall have a label to indicate that they are not equipped with an overfilling prevention device.” So it seems that for vertical tanks, a valve can be replaced, but the horizontal tanks are not adaptable.

I now carry a copy of the exemption to the rule when going to propane refill stations.

Chuck Houlihan sails an Allied 39 out of San Diego, Calif.

Steve D’Antonio responds:

That’s correct. My local propane filler said it was an afterthought to the proposed change. He explained that because horizontal tanks couldn’t be easily retrofitted with the valve, the tank itself would have needed modification for filling purposes. So, the powers that be decided to grandfather in the horizontal tanks. (The exemption applies only to pre-1998 tanks, as Houlihan stated.) Remember, in some states, including my own of Virginia, this is not an enforced law, so it’s up to the propane retailer as to whether the OPD mandate is observed. My advice, however, is to go with the new valve; it’s definitely an improvement.

Contributing Editor Steve D’Antonio is boatyard manager at Zimmerman Marine in Cardinal, Va.

By Ocean Navigator