New federal regulations have some effect on RVers


By Russ and Tiña De Maris

photo: Hustvedt on wikimedia commons.

News floating around the Internet of late may have made it sound as if RVers have new rules about propane cylinder inspections. One source put it this way: “As a result, cylinders must be requalified by proof pressure or volumetric expansion testing every 10 years instead of every seven or 12 years.”

On the one hand, that could be considered good news – only having to have your “tanks” requalified every 10 years; on the other hand, read it again – “by proof pressure or volumetric expansion testing.” These types of testing are expensive and time-consuming. Before we get too much excitement, let’s look at the background and the facts.

First off, yes, there were some changes in federal regulations, put forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. The regulations apply to portable LP cylinders – like ones found on trailers and truck campers. The regs have NO effect on motorhome tanks – these are ASME Certified containers, and don’t require recertification.

However, those “take ’em out and fill ’em up” cylinders are under the law, and for some, the new regulations do make for changes. Why? In the recent past, a lot of folks suddenly got into the “food truck” business – selling everything from tacos and tostadas to sushi on any street corner near you. With the big influx in food carts, sadly, came an influx of big LP explosions that even killed a few customers. Reflexively, Uncle Sam’s safety guys woke up and smelled the tacos, and decided a few rule changes were in order.

Do the changes affect RVers? Yes and no. First off, under the old rules, all cylinders had to be inspected and recertified within 12 years of their date of manufacture. Under the new regs, that date is down to 10 years. So, if your LP cylinder was made in 2007, this year you’ll need to have it recertified. But when it comes to requalification, the question is, how?

Under the regs, a cylinder may be requalified by one of three ways: Proof pressure testing, volumetric testing, or visual inspection. The first two, performed by an authorized firm, will then require a recertified tank to be rechecked in ten years. The latter, the one most of us RVers will get done, requires a recheck five years later. By the way, just what does a “visual inspection” look for?

Excessive rust, corrosion, or pitting on the cylinder, particularly near the bottom.
Dents, bulges, cuts or cracks in the surface.
Missing or damaged cylinder footing, cylinder neckring (collar), or valve cover.
A leaking or defective valve or pressure relief device.

It’s a good thing not to wait for an inspection – all of us can look over our own LP cylinders because all of these items are safety issues. Got a problem? Get it fixed, or get a new cylinder.

Bottom line? In terms of requalification times, most of us will still have to have our older LP cylinders checked out every five years. All of us, when we buy a new cylinder, will need to look ahead to a decade, not 12 years, for our first requalification.



13 Thoughts to “New federal regulations have some effect on RVers”

  1. Dennis Thayer

    Sorry that’s recertify the tanks, pesky spell checker. DT

  2. Dennis Thayer

    Ferrel Gas and Amerigas are 2 of the companies that will certify tanks. Look for a propane service that delivers to houses since they will certainly be able to rectify the tanks.

  3. cranky

    Since my family is in that RV at the RV park parked next to you, thank you for getting YOUR bottle requalified every 10 years.

  4. Drew

    As a supplement to the article, I don’t think permanently mounted tanks are affected by this regulation. Maybe someone can elaborate.

    1. Russ De Maris

      Drew: You’re correct; the permanently mounted tanks found on motorhomes are ASME certified, and the ruling doesn’t apply to them.

      1. Roy Ellithorpe

        What is asme and how does it differ from however the portable bottles are certified. How is the tank different and how can anyone be confident in a tank that is in most instances openly exposed to and within a few inches of a salt, sand and water covered highway and thousands of which are over 30 years old?

        1. Russ De Maris

          Roy: There’s a manufacturer plate on all propane containers. The plate will indicate the certification as being ASME or DOT. Rest assured, in the US, all motorhome permanent tanks are ASME certified. As to how they handle being smacked with road debris, shaken (not stirred), and exposed to salt water in winter and still come off without blasting us to Kingdom Come is one of those unresolved mysteries. I wouldn’t be surprised that, for a fee, one of those DOT recertifiers would be happy to eyeball your ASME tanks to suggest that it’s still safe. As to the differences between ASME tanks and DOT cylinder construction, you’ve hit a great question, and one that we’ll try and research and present in a future newsletter. Thanks!

  5. Tommy Molnar

    I went to one of our local LP delivery companies to see how much a “re-certification” would cost. The lady said not to bother getting a re-cert because it cost too much. They no longer do it at their facility and instead, would have to ship them to some magical place in CA (we’re in Nevada), and would cost a fortune. Just buy a new tanks. Hurumph!

  6. Carole

    As always…you all are a fount of information! THANK-YOU! BUT…..where does one get the tank inspected? And by whom?

    1. KH

      My experience has been that there are no facilities locally to inspect these tanks. Maybe in a large city but not anyplace I lived. This is an example of more waste because the tanks end up scrapped. My tanks looked brand new when scrapped. The propane facilities sell you new tanks this way. Another caveat, check the dates on the tank before you buy, I’ve found new tanks with 2-3 year old dates that had set around the warehouse forever.

      1. Roy Ellithorpe

        In Canada those “scrapped” tanks end up at one of those tank trading outfits that are literally everywhere. They recertify them, repaint them, refill them and resell them for about 50 bucks or trade your CURRENT 20lb bottle for 20 to 30 dollars. I’m pretty sure that they are all over the states as well but I just can’t see them in my mind right now.

    2. Russ De Maris

      Carole: We’ll supply a link to a list of authorized inspection agencies; should have that available by Monday.

      1. Hal

        If you pass through or stop in Yuma Arizona go to Cactus Storage/Foothills Propane. They are certified to do the visual inspection on portable propane tanks. They do a dozen, or so, each day. And the people are really friendly.

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