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Should My Propane Tank Be Above or Below Ground?

Understanding How to Make the Best Choice for Your Home

propane tanks maineAdding propane to your home is a smart choice. It’s a versatile, eco-friendly fuel that can power a variety of your home’s heating systems and equipment efficiently, helping you save money in the process. Now you need to decide whether an aboveground or an underground propane tank is the right choice. Aesthetics certainly make putting your tank underground the obvious option, but safety concerns and budget limitations are also important considerations.

Here’s everything you need to consider about a propane tank before you make your choice:

The Size of Your Propane Tank Matters

The first thing you need to determine is what size tank you need. For a home with a few propane appliances, such as a cooking stove, fireplace, water heater, or clothes dryer, a 120-gallon tank is usually a sufficient choice. However, the bigger the tank you need, the more likely you will want to locate it underground, as it will be harder to hide it.

Your Budget Limitations

Of course, a bigger tank is inherently more expensive than a smaller tank. However, locating your tank underground will likely double your costs. You need to budget for excavation, including contractors and extra labor to bury your tank properly and safely. You will also need permits, and not all locations are suitable for underground tanks. (Don’t worry…PitStop Propane and Fuels can help you with all of this!)

In addition, “sacrificial anodes,” which help prevent corrosion, need to be buried near the tank. An underground tank also needs a special anti-corrosion coating, and regular maintenance checks.

An aboveground tank simply needs to meet distance requirements and have appropriate permits. Sometimes, a concrete base is needed for stability, but the cost is relatively small, and we can usually handle it for you. Because it will be located aboveground, maintenance is not a problem because the tank is easy to inspect and access if any repair is needed.

Safety Factors

Generally, underground tanks are considered a safer option than aboveground tanks. One reason is that they are protected from temperature fluctuations. Underground tanks are also safer in the event of a leak. Unlike oil, propane can’t harm soil or water, and because the tank is buried, leaking propane can’t escape into the air, causing a fire hazard.

However, if you live in a flood-prone area, an aboveground tank is the safer option. That’s because an underground tank can float away if the water rises above the propane level in your tank. Aboveground tanks stand a few inches off the ground and are bolted down making them more stable and less exposed during flood conditions.

Nevertheless, aboveground tanks are very safe, although exposure to the elements can make them a little less durable, particularly if they’re subjected to extreme or extended heat and cold.

Curb Appeal

When you invest time and money in making your home and yard look nice, you don’t necessarily want a hunk of metal ruining the view. But sometimes there isn’t the space—or the budget—to bury your tank. We get it. Usually, we can help situate your tank at the side or the back of your home, in as unobtrusive a place as possible.

There are advantages and disadvantages of both aboveground and underground propane tanks. For aesthetics and safety, underground tanks are a great option. However, if you’re on a tight budget, live in a flood-prone area, or can site your tank in a less prominent spot, an above-ground tank may be more practical.

Whether you decide on an aboveground or underground propane tank, know that the pros at Pitstop Propane and Fuels can help you make your selection, as well as handle the installation and maintenance of your tank. Plus, we’ll provide reliable propane delivery services all year long.

Contact us for more information today—and ask about our convenient wireless tank monitoring program!