How To Tell If Home Propane Tank Is Empty

image of the words how to depicting how to tell if a propane tank is emptyWhat do you do when winter becomes unbearably cold? Some people put on several layers and drink a hot beverage, but those may not be enough to feel relief. Most homes depend on a heating system to stay warm throughout the season. Heaters that rely on propane usually get their fuel from an outdoor tank within the property. Owners must keep an eye on it to make sure that they don’t run out before they schedule their next propane fuel delivery. If a propane tank is empty, the heater will stop working, indoor temperatures will drop, and the family will shiver. Do not let this happen to you. In this article, we discuss how to tell if home propane tank is empty.

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How To Check Propane Tank Levels

Heaters often last a decade or more with proper care. Get to know your heating system, including the propane tank, for smooth ownership throughout the years. For example, learn how to check the propane tank level to prevent it from going empty. This container has a thick opaque wall, so you cannot just perform a quick visual check from afar. However, you can use a few simple strategies to figure out the remaining volume at any time. Below are some of the things you can do to monitor the contents:

1. Using a Propane Tank Gauge

image of a propane tank gauge and propane tank levels

Most propane tanks have built-in mechanisms to measure fuel volume. This gauge will tell you the current amount, so keep checking for updates. If your tank does not have one, buy an aftermarket gauge and have it installed. The dial will reveal the percentage of the tank occupied by propane. Multiply this by the tank capacity to get the actual volume. If you have a 60% reading on a 400-gallon tank, you have approximately 240 gallons left. Make it a habit to check each week to discover your consumption rate. That will show you how long your propane will last.

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2. Warm Water – Cool Hand Method

image of a home propane tank

You do not always need a precise number. Do not worry if you cannot find the gauge or if this mechanism is broken. You can still estimate the tank level by sensing the surface temperature. Pour warm water over the tank and run your hand along its walls. There should be a significant change in temperature between the space and the liquid fuel. Where does it start to get cold? That is the maximum reach of your propane right now. It should go lower as time passes. Schedule the next propane delivery before it gets too low.

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3. Simple Math Calculations

Are you handy with numbers? Perform simple math calculations for accurate estimates. First, get the volume of your propane tank. If you only have the weight capacity in pounds, divide it by 4.2 to get the equivalent number of gallons. Second, determine the consumption rate of your heating system in BTUs per hour. British Thermal Unit is the amount of heat necessary to increase the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. It is a good measure of the heat content of various fuels and other energy sources.

A gallon of propane can produce 91,452 BTUs of thermal energy. Check your heater for its BTU rating on the label, and divide it by the number above. A system rated at 30,000 BTUs will consume about 0.328 gallons per hour. That is equivalent to 7.87 per day and 236.19 gallons per month. On the other hand, a system rated at 50,000 BTUs installed in a larger home will consume 0.547 gallons every hour, 13.12 gallons every day, and 393.65 gallons every month. These figures assume non-stop operation and a brand-new heating system. Remember that as a heating system ages, its efficiency or ability to turn fuel into usable heat diminishes. Keep this in mind when performing your calculations. These consumption rates should help you estimate how long your tank will last.


Why Schedule Your Propane Refill at 30%

Never wait until your tank is down to zero before calling for a refill from your supplier. Expert propane suppliers recommend scheduling a fuel delivery once the contents drop to 30%. This buffer will give you wiggle room in case the fuel gets delayed because of supply issues, traffic congestion, fleet availability, or foul weather. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

The weather could also turn at any time. Fuel consumption rate can increase significantly if temperatures plunge. What you thought would last for a week may only keep you warm for a few days. Do not wait until the tank is dangerously low. Acting at 30% is a good rule of thumb.

Before getting more propane, check for signs of a leak around the tank. You will need to fix this first to prevent fires and fuel waste. Get professionals to come over for clean-up and repairs.

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Related Article: Do I Have To Worry About My Propane Freezing?

Why is Running Out of Propane Bad

Ensure proper tank management.

  • Non-functional Appliances: Once propane runs out, all the appliances that use it as fuel will stop working. Your heater will no longer shield you from the cold weather. Your propane stove will not let you cook meals, and your propane water heater will not offer you warm showers.
  • Rust Build-up: As fuel moves out, air moves inside the tank to occupy the space. This moist air can cause internal corrosion if allowed to persist. It will weaken the tank walls and cause leaks. Rust can also mask the smell of propane, so you might not notice the leak immediately. It will worsen in the background while you are blissfully unaware of the situation.
  • Property Damage: The warmth produced by the heating system is not just good for the family. It is also beneficial for the property because it prevents the pipes from freezing and bursting — a problem that requires costly repairs.
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It is dangerous, costly, and inconvenient to let your propane tank run out. Monitor its contents throughout the cold months to prevent unpleasant surprises. Use the techniques described above to estimate the volume and call for deliveries at around 30%. Your diligence will result in stress-free ownership.

Call Wilcox Energy For Reliable Propane Services


When you need a reliable propane delivery service on the southern shoreline of Connecticut, be sure to contact Wilcox Energy. We offer high-quality fuel deliveries that are fast, affordable, and friendly.

You can count on Wilcox Energy to provide you with unbeatable service each and every time.

Give us a call today to discuss our different delivery plans and financing options.

We also offer a full line of HVAC services to enhance your home’s comfort and energy efficiency. Some of the services that we offer include heater tune-ups, furnace repairs, HVAC installations, and much, much more. Call now! Click the link to view our propane service area.

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For more information about our propane deliveries or HVAC services, contact Wilcox Energy. You can click here to contact us, or you can call us at (860) 399-6218. We offer a full line of affordable and trusted home comfort services.

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