Why Do I Smell Propane When My Tank is Low?

Smell Propane

If you are a new propane user, there are some interesting quirks to get used to. Once you have figured out what you will be using propane for and from there, your tank shape and size, you then have to keep in mind the maintenance, which includes refilling when you are low on smell propane.

If this is the first time you are in need of a propane refill, you may have noticed a somewhat unpleasant smell and asked yourself: Is that propane? Is this normal? Do I need a refill? How quickly do I need to get more propane in the tank? Consider the following if you do smell propane when your tank is low:

Normal Safety Feature

If you have started to smell propane and suspect that your tank is low, know that the smell is completely normal and expected. In fact, this is a specific design for propane tanks. Propane tanks are made to emit the smell of propane, which can smell sulfurous or like rotten eggs, to alert you to the fact that you need to refill the tank. (Actually, propane itself is odorless, but the additives make it smell like rotten eggs.)

So if you do smell that unpleasant odor, take a look at the gauge on your tank. It is probably low, and this is your alert to fill it up as soon as possible. The smell is made to be an alarm of sorts so that your tank doesn’t completely empty out. 

There are several adverse outcomes if you let your propane tank completely empty, so when your nose detects propane, get your tank filled! It is generally recommended to keep your tank at 20% full or higher.

What if the Propane Runs Out?

As noted, the smell is there specifically as an alert so that you can fill your tank. If you ignore the smell and don’t fill your tank, there are several things that could happen. First, if you use propane to heat your home and you let the tank get too low, you may lose heating for your house. 

This can obviously lead to many unfortunate outcomes, the least of which is that you and our family will be cold, the worst of which could be frozen and burst pipes and possibly thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Letting your tank run too low can also lead to moisture or air getting into the tank. This can lead to rust and compromise the integrity of the tank. This could also lead to appliances running poorly due to lower pressure in the tank. 

Finally, if air does get into the tank, or gas leaking from the nearly empty tank reaches the air in your home, and a flame is introduced to the gas, there can be an explosion.

Never Run Out of Propane

The obvious way to avoid these problems is to pay attention to your nose and schedule a propane delivery as soon as you detect the distinctive odor. Many propane companies also offer automatic delivery, so that you know your propane will be refilled on a set schedule and don’t have to worry about running out.

The unique smell of propane is certainly a giveaway that your tank needs a refill. The smell is completely normal, and should not be ignored.



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