How to Handle a Leaking Propane Tank Valve? (A Guide to Avoiding Disaster)

April 7, 2023
Written by Kristy J. Norton

Have you just found your propane tank leaking? Don’t panic. The first quick steps are to turn off the grill and propane valve, evacuate, and call a propane emergency service.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are 8,900 gas grill fires in the US yearly, many from leaking or broken propane tanks. This number proves how important propane safety is. Luckily as a chef, I have been formally trained in kitchen disaster management. You don’t ever want to mishandle a leaking propane valve while grilling.

In this article, I will explain more about what to do when you have a propane hiss. We’ll discuss the common causes of valve leaks in propane tanks, how to identify them, and what you can do to prevent them from happening again. So, let’s dive in!

leaking propane tank valve

What to Do if You Suspect Your Propane Tank Leaking?

If you suspect your propane tank’s pressure relief valve or bleeder valve is leaking, taking immediate action is essential to protect yourself and those around you. Propane gas leaks can be dangerous, so knowing what steps to take if you encounter a leak is necessary. 

Step 1: Turn Off the Grill and Propane Valve

When you suspect a gas leak, the first quick step is to turn off the grill and the propane valve.

This can help prevent further gas from escaping and reduce the risk of a fire or explosion. 

Safety tipYou should only turn off the propane valve if it’s safe to do so and you’re comfortable with the process. If you’re unsure, I suggest waiting for professionals to help with that.

Step 2: Evacuate the Area

Do you smell gas or hear hissing or whistling sounds from your propane cylinder valve? The safest thing to do is turn off the grill/valve and evacuate the area immediately.

That’s assuming your grill or the LP cylinder is outdoors as required by the safety rules of the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HBPA). Who uses their grill or stores the filled tank indoors, by the way?

Now, if this situation has caught you indoors, you’ll want to make sure you have proper ventilation so the gas doesn’t burn down the house. You have little to worry about when the area is in your backyard or on an open terrace. Leave the area!

At the same time, if it’s an indoor area, and you don’t trust your ability to handle the situation and don’t have people or pets inside, simply evacuate. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Step 3: Call Emergency Services and the Propane Supplier

Once safely away from the propane tank, call your local emergency services and propane supplier to report the leak.

Emergency services will dispatch a trained team to assess the situation and take appropriate action. Your propane supplier can also guide you on how to safely shut off the main gas supply valve and prevent further leaks.

Warning: If you’re not a propane tank technician, never attempt to fix a propane valve leak. Don’t do it! Propane gas leaks can be extremely dangerous. Trained professionals with the proper equipment and expertise best handle them. Trying to fix the valve yourself can put you and others in harm’s way.

What if There’s No Access to an Emergency Service?

Do you have a leaky propane tank and live in a place without access to emergency services or a propane technician? Here are some steps to take in this case:

  1. If possible, turn off the main gas supply valve to the propane tank. The valve is typically located near the propane tank and should be turned clockwise to close.
  2. If the propane tank is outdoors, remove any sources of ignition from the area, such as cigarettes, matches, or open flames.
  3. If the propane tank is indoors, open all doors and windows to increase ventilation and allow any propane gas to disperse.
  4. Don’t operate any electrical switches or appliances. This can create a spark and ignite any propane gas that may be present.
  5. Evacuate the immediate area and move to a safe distance away from the propane tank.
  6. Wait until the propane gas has dissipated before returning to the area.
Household Propane Gas Connection

Why is My Propane Tank Leaking? (Common Causes)

From overfilling to corrosion, wear and tear, improper storage and handling, as well as an open valve, there are several reasons your gas cylinder valve may be leaking. Let’s check them out.

1. Overfilling

The first question is, will an overfilled propane tank leak?

Well, yes. When you overfill your propane tank, you cause too much pressure to build up inside the tank. This can lead to leaks around the valve. 

Propane expands rapidly when subjected to heat. When you overfill it, you create excess pressure that can cause leakages if not an explosion.

So, it’s essential to know the proper fill level for your propane tank, which is typically 80 percent, according to Amerigas.

One way I prevent this issue is by using propane tanks with an overfilling prevention device (OPD) like this Flame King. The OPD valve is integrated into the tank nozzle or filling valve. It works by acting as a safety shut-off valve.

2. Corrosion and Wear and Tear

Propane cylinders are designed to last for 30 years or more. However, they can still be affected by wear and tear within the first five years. 

Corrosion can occur due to exposure to moisture, which can cause rust on the tank and valve. This can weaken the metal and create small cracks or holes where gas can escape. 

In addition, regular use of the tank can cause a faulty valve stem, which can also result in leaks.

3. Improper Storage and Handling

Propane tanks should always be stored and handled correctly to avoid damage to the tank or valve.

I know propane grills are used outdoors. However, you shouldn’t leave it out when out of use. 

Storing propane tanks in a damp or humid environment can lead to corrosion.

Also, dropping or knocking the tank over can damage the valve and cause it to leak.

It’s also important to use the proper tools and equipment when connecting or disconnecting the tank from the main gas supply valve.

For example, using a pipe wrench instead of a gas valve key can damage the tank valve stem and cause it to leak.

4. You Have an Open Bleeder Valve

The deliveryman has to open the bleeder valve or liquid level gauge to fill the tank. If it’s not completely closed, there will be leakages.

In this case, you must shut down the bleeder valve to prevent further gas flow. Turn the valve clockwise and that’s it.

Propane Tank Valve Regulator

What are the Dangers of a Leaking Gas Tank Valve?

It’s important to know what you’re dealing with. Some potential dangers are associated with a leaking gas tank’s pressure relief valve. 

Risk of Fire and Explosion

Propane gas is highly flammable and can ignite with just a small spark. So if you don’t detect a propane gas leak in time and address it quickly, it can create a dangerous situation that can put you, your property, and those around you at risk.

Health Risks

In addition to the risk of fire and explosion, propane gas can pose health risks if inhaled.

Breathing in propane gas can cause the following symptoms:

  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • headaches
  • rapid breathing, and more

Prolonged exposure to propane gas can lead to more severe health effects. These include damage to the central nervous system and respiratory system.

What are the Signs of a Leaking Propane Tank?

Recognizing the signs of a valve leak is important to prevent potential dangers. Here are signs that your tank is leaking:

1. Smell of Propane Gas

This is the most obvious sign to watch out for. Propane gas has a distinct odor comparable to rotten eggs or skunk spray.

If you notice this smell in your home or around your propane tank, address it immediately.

2. Hissing Sound

Another sign of a propane tank leak is a hissing sound from the tank or valve. You may only hear this if you bring your ear closer to the tank or valve. 

This sound is caused by the release of propane gas from the tank under pressure and a clear indication there is a propane leak. 

3. Frost or Ice Buildup on the Tank

This occurs when propane gas escapes from the tank, and the pressure change causes the temperature of the valve to drop.

If you notice frost or ice buildup on your propane cylinder, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional. They will determine if there is a leak and whether you can keep using your propane tank safely. 


1. Will a Leaking Propane Tank Explode?

Yes, a leaky propane cylinder can explode if the leaked gas comes into contact with an ignition source. Propane is highly flammable and explosive in the presence of heat or a spark. 

2. Is a Propane Leak an Emergency?

A propane leak is considered an emergency as it poses a significant risk of explosion or fire. In the United States, the local fire department or hazardous materials (HAZMAT) team is typically responsible for propane tank leaking issues. All you need to do is dial 911 when you discover or suspect a propane tank leak. 

Three Gray Propane Tanks


A leaking propane tank is potentially life-threatening. First, you must recognize the signs of a leak and take immediate action to prevent further danger.

If you suspect your propane tank valve leaking, evacuate the area, and call emergency services and your propane supplier. Do not attempt to fix the valve yourself. If you don’t have access to a qualified propane service technician, consider contacting your propane supplier for guidance on how to proceed.

Remember, safety should always be your top priority in any situation involving a leaky propane tank.

By Kristy J. Norton
I'm Kristy – a chef and connoisseur of all things BBQ! You can find me either in my kitchen (or someone else's) or at a big outdoor barbecue surrounded by friends and family. In both my professional and personal life I’ve picked up more than a few tips and tricks for turning out delicious food. I consider it a privilege to share it with others!
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