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Old 02-23-2017, 11:45 AM   #1
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Why do propane tanks rust?

I've noticed that propane tanks seem to rust faster than other painted metal. I bought a new tank just a few months ago, it has been covered the entire time, and now it is showing spots of rust where the handle is welded to the tank.

Why is this? Is it because the whiffs of propane that leak out of the tank during filling / venting accelerate rusting, is it the temperature cycle when the tank is being drained, or is it something else I haven't thought of.

Finally, is there a preferred way of touching up the paint on the tanks?
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Old 02-23-2017, 12:01 PM   #2
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I've noticed that propane tanks seem to rust faster than other painted metal. I bought a new tank just a few months ago, it has been covered the entire time, and now it is showing spots of rust where the handle is welded to the tank.

Why is this? Is it because the whiffs of propane that leak out of the tank during filling / venting accelerate rusting, is it the temperature cycle when the tank is being drained, or is it something else I haven't thought of.

Finally, is there a preferred way of touching up the paint on the tanks?
Every Spring , I clean , prime and paint my propane tanks with Rustoleum.
They still manage to rust in a relatively short period of time.
Fiberglass propane tanks would solve the rust issue but I am unwilling to pay the price.
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Old 02-23-2017, 12:40 PM   #3
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Just hit the swap rack at Home D when time for the next fill and pick out a nice shinier new one. Leave the rusting one with them.
Then have them filled yourself till it starts rusting again, rinse, repeat.
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Old 02-23-2017, 12:54 PM   #4
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Put a propane tank cover over them and forget about it.
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Old 02-23-2017, 01:14 PM   #5
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I haven't noticed a big problem with propane tanks, but I would suspect that one factor might be frequently-used tanks getting scratched when filled and mounted, then getting cold during use (due to the vapourization of the propane used) and so getting wet from condensation. Of course rust around the weld points wouldn't be due to breaks in the paint film.

They also might not be particularly well-painted, especially since they must now be made very cheaply to be competitive... but if the problem repeats after a proper re-painting maybe that's not the issue.

Another alternative is aluminum tanks. Anything other than steel in the common 20-pound size is relatively expensive, and other than for forklifts and similar equipment, not many people find the cost of aluminum worthwhile.
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Old 02-23-2017, 02:16 PM   #6
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I think because when propane is being used a small amount of condensation formed around the tank.. also they tend to get bang up a lot more at fill station and when/if you take them on/off the truck/trailer... also unless you have a cover for it it's being exposed during transit..
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Old 02-23-2017, 02:43 PM   #7
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Just hit the swap rack at Home D when time for the next fill and pick out a nice shinier new one. Leave the rusting one with them.
Then have them filled yourself till it starts rusting again, rinse, repeat.
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Old 02-23-2017, 03:28 PM   #8
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I would suspect that one factor might be frequently-used tanks getting scratched when filled and mounted, then getting cold during use (due to the vapourization of the propane used) and so getting wet from condensation.
Yeah I bet that's it. I don't want to swap tanks as I bought one that has a gauge, which I really like. I'll replace the second tank with one that has a gauge as well, and then I guess I'll just paint them annually.
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Old 02-23-2017, 06:58 PM   #9
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I paint mine on occasion. They get beat around some, they are outside overnight and in the rain when I cook out at home and get too inebriated to remember to put them away so I just hit them with spray paint after washing them off.
I like a nice sunny day to dry the paint.
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Old 02-23-2017, 11:49 PM   #10
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Just hit the swap rack at Home D when time for the next fill and pick out a nice shinier new one. Leave the rusting one with them.
Then have them filled yourself till it starts rusting again, rinse, repeat.
I agree 100%. The paint job on something like a propane tank is not done to the same level as your car. They probably are not even primed. Tanks are meant to be inspected/replaced every 12 years anyway. I replace all my tanks that get too old at Home D. I usally don't replace them if they get a little rusty though. That is what a tank cover is for, to keep them rusty tanks out of sight.
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