Taylor Gas Company FAQFrequently Asked Questions

Taylor Gas Company, Inc. proudly serves the Southern Maryland area's propane needs. We have provided propane products and services for St. Mary's County, Charles County and Calvert County for over 60 years. Put your faith in our vision and experience.

Propane (also called LPG-liquefied petroleum gas-or LP gas) is a widely used fuel. It is transported and stored as a very cold liquid, and can cause a "freeze burn" or frostbite if it contacts the skin. The liquid propane is turned into a gas inside a tank or cylinder. In its natural form, propane is colorless and odorless. To make propane easier to detect in the event of a leak or spill, manufacturers deliberately add a chemical compound to give it a distinctive smell. Propane is flammable when mixed with air (oxygen) and can be ignited by many sources, including open flames, smoking materials, electrical sparks, and static electricity. Propane vapors are heavier than air. For this reason, they may accumulate in low-lying areas such as basements, crawl spaces, and ditches, or along floors. However, air currents can sometimes carry propane vapors elsewhere within a building.

This question is often asked during the period immediately following the delivery, or sometimes several days later. Whether the propane tank is being filled partially or completely, the bleeder valve is always used during the delivery process. It is common for the delivery driver to write the ending percentage on the fuel ticket after the delivery which is often 80%, if the tank has been filled. Even if the face gauge reads 75% following delivery, the tank is at 80% because the bleeder valve indicates the actual propane liquid level (above 80%) in the tank, not the face (dial) gauge. See Float Gauge and Fixed Liquid Level Gauge for detailed information about these two propane gauges.

Another instance that may seem confusing to propane consumers involves tank volume following a propane delivery in the afternoon, which is commonly the hotter part of the day. When propane deliveries are made during the hotter parts of the day, the gas has already expanded before it is delivered into the tank and the gauge may read 80% following a fill. Inspecting the tank gauge the following morning may show a significant percentage drop (up to 5%) even if no gas has been used! This does not necessarily indicate a leak. More likely than not, the volume of liquid propane in the tank has contracted in the cooler overnight hours. Also see Propane Tank Color for more information about the effects of heat on liquid propane volume and Propane Volume Correction for an explanation about hot and cold weather delivery issues.
BUYING - Purchasing a propane tank is more common than renting one in some parts of the country. A propane tank purchase price will generally include the piping from the tank to the house as well as all regulators, fittings, gas and other installation related parts. These costs associated with a tank purchase are common throughout the propane industry and are explained to customers prior to the installation. Most companies will not sell and install a tank without filling it with propane. Nor will a dealer sell a tank to an unlicensed individual for installation by themselves. If choosing to buy, the gas company selling the tank will likely have financing available for qualified buyers or the tank can be paid for at the time of installation. One of the primary advantages of buying and owning the tank is that the customer can buy propane from whatever gas company they choose. Other issues to consider with buying a propane tank: Tank financing is often available with approved credit with one year terms. Warranty on tank, parts and labor should be discussed with the propane company prior to purchase. Propane prices sometimes differ for customers that own their own tank. Selling your home doesn't burden the next owner with acquiring propane service as the tank is part of the sale.

LEASING - Leasing a propane tank is an option that many potential customers have, provided they meet certain requirements. Many propane companies require a minimum annual propane usage, a certain number of appliances be on propane or total BTU load is at or above a minimum threshold. For example, a company may require three or more propane appliances in order to lease a tank but standards such as these vary widely by company and by region. Also, propane tanks are generally leased to credit worthy applicants so expect the propane company to perform a credit check prior to approval. Know that all piping, fittings, parts and connections are purchased by the customer and cannot be rented. Several things to think about if renting a tank is an option: Company owned tanks are maintained by the propane company so any repairs to the tank will generally be taken care of by the propane company. All propane must be purchased from the company that owns the tank. Buying gas from another company will likely result in the termination of the tank lease. Most propane companies require that rental tanks are filled by scheduled delivery (automatic filling) which is much safer and protective of the customer. Propane companies pay very close attention to their lease tanks for their customers' protection as well as their own. Lease tank contracts often give the propane company the legal right to enter property to inspect the tank. Moving to a new home will require you to notify your propane company of your relocation.
It would be much easier for manufacturers of propane appliances and equipment to express gas usage in terms of gallons instead of BTU's because propane users buy their gas "by the gallon". After all, the appliances are using those same gallons purchased from the propane company, much like gallons of gas pumped into a car's gas tank. But when you buy a car, you don't ask about the gallons of gas the car will use, you would rather ask how many miles per gallon the car gets. If your vehicle needs involve hauling heavy loads, you would probably be interested in engine and/or towing power. Although a crude comparison, BTU's are in essence a measurement of consumption or deliverable power applicable to individual LP Gas appliances. While vehicles and engines are made to run on diesel, gasoline, propane or other fuels, the engine is rated by horsepower as a factor for explaining how much power the engine is capable of generating. In the gas appliance world, we equate BTU's to be somewhat of an "appliance horsepower" measurement.

Appliance BTU's are expressed through BTU input ratings and are based on a "per hour" basis. Whereas a furnace may be rated for 100,000 BTU, a furnace rated at 200,000 is capable of delivering twice the "horsepower" of the 100,000 BTU furnace. It's also capable of delivering 5 times the horsepower of a 40,000 BTU space heater. In the propane world, a 200,000 BTU furnace is not needed to heat a room when a 40,000 BTU heater will do the job. As you see, BTU ratings are used to appropriately match appliances for the required need and appropriate purpose. BTU's are used by propane companies to determine total LP Gas appliance load. The total load is expressed in BTU's and represents the total propane demand on a system when all gas appliances are operating at full capacity. The BTU load help the propane company select an appropriate tank size for the installation as well as select pipe size and regulators so that the downstream appliances will work efficiently. For instance, a large home with several furnaces and water heaters will require many more BTU's than a one room cabin with a propane stove. The larger home has much more propane appliance "horsepower" than the small cabin. This is the sole reason that BTU's are the factor of measurement in the propane industry as opposed to using gallons for measurement.
All too often propane customers take it upon themselves to paint their tank a color that complements the colors of their home or landscaping. This presents a safety problem as well as a serviceability problem if the tank color is dark or non-reflective. Dark colors absorb heat while lighter colors reflect it. Have you ever worn a dark colored shirt on a sunny day? A dark shirt on a sunny day will give you a lot more warmth than a white shirt will. The principle is the same with LP Gas tanks as the last thing any propane tank needs is to absorb heat. Perhaps a better example is walking barefoot on the concrete sidewalk and stepping onto the asphalt street on a hot sunny day. Concrete sidewalks are fairly light in color (heat reflective) while asphalt streets and roads ar dark in color (heat absorbent). The sidewalk is much more bearable to walk on while the asphalt road can be quite painful. Propane tanks need to reflect heat, not absorb it. The entire reasoning behind propane tank color involves pressure and some simple laws of chemistry that apply to fluids and gases when they are heated. The law "as temperature increases, volume increases" applies and can be seen in this explanatory animation from NASA. Because propane exists as both a liquid and a gas within the tank, the absorption of heat due to a non-reflective color creates the possibility of a high pressure situation that may cause the safety relief valve to open. The bottom line is this:

Dark (Non Reflective) Propane Tank = Absorbed Heat = Propane Expansion = Relief Valve May Open
If you heat your home with propane and it's cold outside, you are going to use more propane. The same goes for heating with natural gas or electricity. The United States encompasses such a large geographic area that the climate regions of the country range from frigid to tropical. These contrasting environments signify a large difference in heating seasons as well as varying lengths of the heating seasons. Some parts of the southern U.S. have almost no heating season at all while parts of the northern U.S. seem to have a heating season for the bulk of the year. Consumers in the warmer regions of the U.S. may think they have a leak after an unseasonable winter or extended period of cold weather more often than propane consumers in cold climates. The reason being that people in these warmer climates are not used to cold winters and they can't see how they could have used so much gas. The example here actually occurred in San Antonio, Texas after an extended period of cold temperatures in January of 2007. San Antonio is known for hot summers and mild winters and the propane customer was unable to believe that he had gone through so much gas in just a few weeks. The customer has a 1,000 gallon propane tank that supplies the following LP Gas appliances (with appliance BTU ratings): 3 Water Heaters - 40,000 BTU/hr each 2 Central Furnaces - 200,000 BTU/hr each 1 Clothes Dryer - 35,000 BTU/hr 1 Gas Range - 65,000 BTU/hr 2 Fireplaces (with ceramic logs) - 26,000 BTU/hr each 1 Pool Heater - 425,000 BTU/hr One gallon of propane has 91,547 BTU's. Appliance BTU ratings indicate the appliance usage at 100% capacity. In other words, a furnace with a 200,000 BTU/hr rating means the furnace will use 200,000 BTU's per hour when it is running at "full blast". The furnace will use about 2.2 gallons of propane in one hour's time (200,000 ÷ 91,547 = 2.18). The total load on this house is 1,097,000 BTU/hr meaning that if all appliances are running at 100%, the total use will be about 12 gallons of propane an hour (1,097,000 ÷ 91,547 = 11.98). At this propane usage rate, a total of 288 gallons are being used each day.

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