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Frequently Asked Questions

What is propane gas?

Propane is a hydrocarbon sometimes referred to as liquefied petroleum gas, LP gas or LPG. It is primarily made from natural gas processing, but also from crude oil refining. Much of Southern States' propane comes right from our backyard in West Virginia! It is nontoxic, colorless and almost odorless – but for your protection, a chemical odorant called ethyl mercaptan is added so that it may be easily detected should a leak occur. The added odorant has a strong smell, similar to that of rotten eggs.

I smell gas. What should I do?

If you smell gas inside or outside of your home:

  • No flames, sparks or static. Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not turn lights on or off, use appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames, sparks or static from these sources can start a fire or trigger an explosion.
  • Leave the area immediately. Get all people and pets out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.
  • Shut off the gas. Shut off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).
  • Report the leak. From a neighbor's home or other building away from the gas leak, call your Southern States propane supplier right away. If you can't reach your Southern States propane supplier, call 911 or your local fire department.
  • Do not return to the building or area until your Southern States propane supplier determines that it is safe to do so.
  • Get your system checked. Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances, your Southern States propane supplier or a qualified service technician must check your entire system to ensure that it is leak-free.
What can I do to conserve energy costs?

Contact your local Southern States petroleum location to schedule an appointment for a check-up of your heating system.

Do propane prices change?

Propane prices fluctuate quickly in response to any situation that affects supply and demand such as unexpectedly warm or cold temperatures, excess production or supply interruptions. These changes effect the wholesale price we pay for the propane we deliver to you, and therefore in the prices you pay for propane.

I've decided to switch to propane. What should I consider when choosing a supplier?

When selecting a propane supplier, there are many things to consider. We think that this article,Choosing the Right Propane Supplier, sums it up well.

How do I know what size tank to get?

Propane tanks come in many sizes, but the average delivery customer will need a tank between 120 and 1,000 gallons. They are installed either upright or horizontally and can be above ground or buried. Landscaping can be used to help hide the tank so that it blends into your yard. The right size tank for you depends on your location and usage. Smaller tanks, called cylinders, are sold and refilled at your local Southern States store. Tanks larger than 1,000 gallons are available for appropriate commercial and agricultural applications. To find out what size tank will fit your needs, please contact your nearest Southern States petroleum location.

How far can my tank be set from my driveway?

There are several factors to consider when determining where to set a tank, and local building and safety codes definitely should be consulted. As a general rule though, propane tanks should be within 100 feet of the access way for the delivery vehicle. Depending on the size, your propane tank must also be a certain amount of feet from any building and your property boundary. Additionally, due to federal regulations we cannot fill your tank from a delivery vehicle parked on the side of any government maintained road. Please contact your local Southern States location and we would be happy to help you with your tank placement.

How do I read the gauge on my propane tank?

If your tank has a gauge, it is on the top of the tank, usually under a liftable hood. Not all tanks have gauges though. Be careful when lifting the hood, as insects may sometimes nest there.

For your comfort and convenience, please call your local Southern States propane supplier if your gauge reading measures 30 percent or less. If you don't have a gauge, or if you have questions, please call us.

You may also consider Automatic Delivery service so you never have to worry about checking the level of fuel in your tank, calling for a fill up, or running out of fuel. We deliver based on our computerized system that calculates your usage based on your household needs and weather patterns to make sure there is always enough fuel in your tank.

Why isn't my tank filled to 100% capacity?

Your propane is delivered and stored in liquid form. When liquid propane expands to gas vapor, its volume expands by 270 times! Tanks and cylinders are never filled completely to allow space above the liquid for gas to expand into should the temperature increase. A tank is considered full between 80% and 85%.

Hot days, cool nights, rain and snow are just a few of the many things that can affect the temperature of the liquid inside the tank. Because of these temperature changes, you may see fluctuations in the reading on your tank's gauge.

Is propane an environmentally friendly fuel?

Propane is one of the cleanest burning fuels available. It burns more cleanly than gasoline and other fossil fuels. Its combustion emits fewer particulates and lower levels of carbon dioxide, and compared to electricity it produces minimal sulfur dioxide, a primary cause of the greenhouse effect. Propane vaporizes quickly and is non-toxic, so it will not contaminate soil or groundwater. It is also an approved, clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act as well as the National Energy Policy Act of 1992.

Propane is also a naturally occurring by-product of crude oil and natural gas refining processes. So, it is in plentiful supply. Most of the propane used in the United States is produced right here. Propane is one of the most versatile fuels you can find.

I am considering installing a carbon monoxide detector or a propane gas detector. What kind do you recommend?

We recommend that you install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector listed by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) on each level of your home. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on location, installation and maintenance.

A propane gas detector provides an added layer of security. We recommend installing one or more UL listed propane gas detectors in your home. As with CO detectors, follow the manufacturer's instructions on location, installation and maintenance.

I would like to lock my tank dome (cover). Is there a problem with doing this?

Tank dome covers shouldneverbe locked because the emergency shut-off valve used to shut off the entire system during an emergency is located under the dome cover. Dome covers are designed just to protect various valves and fittings from the weather.

How can I prepare my propane system for a weather related emergency?

If there is an impending severe weather event, please familiarize yourself with the recommendations on our propane safety page.

  • Secure the propane tank if possible
  • Turn the main shut off valve to the OFF position
  • Place the protective dome on the tank
  • Turn off pilot lights on appliances, control valves and shutoff valves
  • Make sure the propane level in your tank is above 30%

After the severe weather has passed, check for any signs of structural damage, and call your Southern States technician if:

  • You smell gas
  • The tank has moved or shifted
  • The tank regulator was exposed to water
  • The gas lines are bent, damaged or broken, or if they have pulled away from the tank
  • Propane appliances were exposed to water
What do I do if there is a pilot outage?

DO NOT ATTEMPT TO RE-LIGHT THE PILOT.Please call your Southern States propane supplier. As a preventative measure, turn off the gas at the tank, if able, until a Southern States employee arrives.

How can you tell if there's a carbon monoxide leak?

Carbon monoxide is produced when gas does not burn properly. It is very dangerous to your health as it can reduce your blood’s ability to transport oxygen around your body. This is why Southern States recommends installing carbon monoxide detectors. It can be difficult for a human to detect as it is invisible and has no smell or taste, but signs of a possible carbon monoxide leak include:

  • Multiple people are experiencing chronic headaches or nausea
  • Houseplants are dying
  • Your pilot light frequently dies out
  • Gas flames are yellow or orange instead of blue
  • You can see soot or a scorched appearance on gas appliances
  • There is excessive condensation on your windows
What do I do if I suspect there is a carbon monoxide leak?

If you think there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home, you should:

  • Get out of the property immediately
  • Contact your Southern States location or call 911 immediately
  • If anyone affected feels sick or has a headache, seek medical attention immediately
  • Switch off appliances and do not use them until they've been checked
  • Make sure any repairs are carried out or overseen by Southern States