If you’re considering installing a below-ground propane tank, it’s important to be aware of the regulations you must abide by.
Apart from the distance requirements you need to observe when choosing a legally acceptable location to bury your tank to safety guidelines, underground propane tank regulations apply strictly according to various local and state provisions.
Underground propane tank regulations
Below are the general rules and legal specifications to keep in mind if you’re contemplating installing an underground propane gas tank:
Choosing a legally acceptable location
You first need to know that legally, you cannot bury the tank anywhere. For this reason, national, state, and local authorities have laid out rules when selecting the ideal spot to fit the tank in your yard.
In short, the location of the tank is a major factor when it comes to the safe, efficient, and responsible use of underground propane tanks.
Here they are:
Distance prerequisites (common to all tanks)
In general, you’re not allowed to install a propane tank at a spot where it will be close to vehicles or traffic. This rules out locations nearby driveways, roads, streets, parking lots, etc.
All 125-500 gallons tanks should be installed 10 feet (at least) from buildings and appliances like window air-conditioning units, compressors, and other potential ignition sources. It should also be 10 ft. from the edge/boundary of your property.
And for those planning to install 2000 gallons capacity tanks, the recommendation is to place them 25 feet (minimum) from buildings. Note that no portion of your 2000-gallon underground tank is permitted to be less than ten ft. from the building or property line.
If your tank’s capacity is below 125 gallons, be sure to position it 10 feet (at least) from your window air conditioner and at least 5 ft. from a crawlspace opening.
More provisions on placement and distance requirements
Suppose you must install your underground propane gas tank within 10 ft. of vehicular traffic. In that case, the law generally requires installing crash-resistant physical protection (think of bollards, barriers, or fences) to protect its exposed dome.
Plus, special depth requirements must be observed for a propane tank’s underground part that must be installed underneath any kind of vehicular traffic.
What’s more, the tank should also be no farther than 100 feet from an access road/driveway. This helps to ensure that the propane delivery truck’s hose can easily reach it.
Other underground propane tank installation requirements
Size of the hole to be excavated
This boils down to the size of your tank.
Read more on Propane tank sizes for homes
But to point you in the right direction, the most common recommendations are as follows:
- For tanks with 1000 Gallons capacity measuring 9’10’’ X 6′-17/8”, excavate a pit that is 17’ x 4’ x 5’ (Length X Width X Depth).
- For tanks with 500 Gallons capacity measuring 8’ 10 ¾” X 5’, dig out a hole that is 11’ x 4’ x 5’ (Length X Width X Depth).
In addition to checking that the distance and hole excavation requirements are met, propane companies and licensed contractors are bound to ensure that a couple of safety regulations are adhered to during the installation of underground propane tanks.
Overall, these measures protect the tank against damage and reduce the tank’s risk of leaking.
Below are the most crucial safety provisions:
- On the foundation– it is important to ensure that the foundation on which the tank is placed is firm enough.
- The container should be secured– underground gas tanks do float if the water (in the hole) rises above the propane level (in the tank). To prevent this, wet cement should be placed in the hole before the propane tank is lowered. The tank will be secured once the concrete cures.
- Regarding backfilling– nothing else should be used to cover the tank but sand/firm earth (free of rocks, gravel, and other materials that can cut through the tank’s protective coating).
Further, some areas require you to apply for special fire department permits. It’s worth mentioning that a plumbing permit could be required too (confirm from your local planning department).
The impact of the regulations on the cost of underground propane tank
The primary reason underground propane tanks tend to be costlier than above-ground tanks is the extra expense caused by the aforementioned regulations.
To help you budget properly, here is a list of the extra involved costs:
- Permits- Permit costs vary from area to area, with some charging more. The good thing is that it’s mostly a one-off cost (not subject to renewal).
- Excavation cost- Before setting a propane tank, the contractor has to make the foundation firm, ensure the tank is at the right depth below ground, secure it in place, and backfill it properly for maximum safety. All this adds to your bill.
- Labor cost- There will be higher labor costs since installing underground propane tanks requires more workers and equipment.
- Anode bag- Sacrificial anode bags are usually placed around underground propane tanks to enhance protection from corrosion before installation. You have to foot this cost as well.
- Underground propane tank inspection cost- The anti-corrosion coating needs to be inspected regularly to ensure it’s still protecting sufficiently. That will be yet another cost down the road.
To cut the long story short, you may end-up paying as much as double the cost of installing an above-ground tank if you opt for an underground propane tank.
While they may appear a bit restrictive, following the above underground propane tank regulations when burying your tank can go a long way in ensuring your safety and optimal performance of the propane tank.
Of course, underground propane tank regulations vary by state/locality so remember to contact your local building and fire authorities for applicable details before proceeding with the project.