How to Unstick a Propane Tank Valve: Safe, Easy and Effective Solutions

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Has it happened again?

Has your propane tank valve gotten stuck yet again? This can put a serious damper if you’ve planned a BBQ, or literally anything that requires your propane tank. But here’s some good news: this article will tell you exactly how to unstick a propane tank valve.

But that’s not all. You will also learn why your propane valve keeps getting clogged as well as things you can do to prevent it from happening again. 

Best of all, you won’t have to call anyone if you get a propane tank safety valve stuck; instead, you will be able to fix it yourself in minutes.

Let’s get started, shall we?

How Does a Propane Tank Work?

how a propane tank works

Before we move onto the meat of the matter, you need to understand how your propane tank works. This applies to anything that runs on propane: fireplaces, water heaters, stoves, gas grills, and even RVs. Knowing how your tank operates will make it easier to troubleshoot minor issues.

A basic tank is filled with propane liquid and uses a special machine that forces the propane gas into the tank under pressure, turning it into its liquid form. It remains pressurized in the tank until the valve is released. When the valve is turned, the pressure decreases and the gas converts to vapor and escapes through the opening.

The propane gas is allowed to escape the canister under a certain pressure determined by the size of the valve. Large commercial propane tanks have multiple valves and gauges. 

The main valves are the fill valves to refill the tank, a service valve to release the propane, and a relief valve. The relief valve prevents too much pressure from building up in the tank and exploding.

Tanks also have gauges that measure the level of liquid in the tanks called a float gauge, as well as a vapor recovery valve that can be used to release excess vapor in the tanks when getting it serviced.

The tanks are often closed very tightly to prevent leaks. If your propane tank won’t open after you bring it home the first time, try using a wrench or a pair of pliers. You can also unhook the tank from your stove and apply a bit of oil to the valve, before trying to yank it open with pliers.

Why Your Propane Tank Valve Might Be Stuck

how to unstick a propane tank valve

Before you try to fix a propane safety valve (or any other tank valve), you need to identify the cause of the blockage. This will determine what you need to do to correct the issue.

Propane tank valves can get stuck due to:

  • Rusting or corrosion
  • Excessive tightening
  • External object blocking the path to the valve

Unsticking a Propane Tank Valve Safely

The most important thing to bear in mind is that propane is highly combustible. When correcting a faulty tank valve, make sure you don’t puncture the tank and cause more damage. Safety is always a priority, so work in a ventilated area and do not light matches or lighters near your tank.

Instructions:

  1. Set the propane tank on a steady, level surface. Make sure you are in a dry and cool area. Carefully check the tank for any signs of obvious damage and try to find the source of any possible leaks.
  2. Wrap the rubber band around the outer edges of the valve to get a better grip on the blocked valve. Once you get a firm grip, twist firmly to loosen and dislodge the valve with your hand.
  3. If this doesn’t work, spray a bit of oil or lubricant on the valve. Shake the valve back and forth to loosen it up, and then try to twist it open once again.
  4. If the valve is still stuck, use a pair of pliers or a wrench to force it open. Grasp the edge of the valve with your pliers firmly and twist counterclockwise to open the valve. Try not to use too much pressure or as this can break the valve instead.
  5. If your valves have rust or water damage, assess the situation. If it is still in the early stages, you can use baking soda and vinegar to get rid of the rust. However, if it is too far gone, you will need to replace the valve.

Preventing a Propane Tank Valve from Getting Stuck

To avoid the fuss of a propane tank valve that needs to be dislodged, you can follow a few simple steps to prevent it from happening in the first place.

  • Don’t twist the valve closed too tightly. This might sound obvious, but people tend to close the valve really tightly, especially after a refill. Shut it tight, but don’t overdo it.
  • After buying a new tank or refilling your old one, smack the bottom of the tank on the ground once or twice. This will loosen the valve so you can open it more easily.
  • Don’t open the valve of a new cylinder rapidly as this can make it get jammed the next time. Instead, test the water and work it slowly and carefully.

Troubleshooting Your Propane Tank

troubleshooting propane tank

Run into some unexpected trouble with your propane tank? Try these solutions for an easy fix.

Propane Tank Valve Leak Repair:

If your propane tank leaks when connected, you most likely need a new valve. Check for the site of the leak by spraying soapy water at the valve, connection point, and pipes. If you see bubbles at the valve or connection, the gasket is broken and the valve requires replacing.

Clogged Propane Line:

Soak the hose for a few minutes in warm soapy water to clean it. Use grease-cutting dish soap or something similar to break down accumulated oil and debris. Rinse the hose thoroughly under running water and allow it to dry.

Unexpected Propane Leaks:

The propane tank shut-off valve is your best bet during leaks if the hose or valve isn’t the one behind the leaks. The service or shut-off valve is the metallic spigot-like dial located under the tank cover and hooked to the top of the tank.

You need to use this valve to turn the gas off at the tank in the event of an emergency or leak. Always turn this valve to the right (clockwise), completely to shut off the gas.

Propane Tank Safety Valve Reset:

To reset your propane tank, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off your propane tank and disconnect it from the stove or grill.
  2. Twist the gas valves on the grill/stove to the highest setting available.
  3. Turn the gas valves on the grill to the OFF setting and shut off everything on the grill.
  4. Connect the propane tank back to the appliance and switch the tank valve to the ON setting.

This process basically resets the safety valve of your propane tank, so you should only do it when required.

Have Any More Questions?

Here you will find issues and concerns people have about a stuck propane tank valve.

01. What is a Propane Tank OPD Valve?

The OPD valve is an acronym for “overfilling prevention device”. It can also stand for “overfill protection device”. 

This kind of valve is required on all large 4-to-40-pound commercial cylinders in vapor service. The OPD valve is a protective device and is exactly what it sounds like. It prevents the tank from overfilling.

02. How to Remove a Propane Tank from a Grill?

  • Shut the top main valve on the propane tank by turning the valve in a clockwise direction.
  • Place the open jaws of the crescent wrench over the large bolt of the tank’s gas regulator. This is located at the meeting point of the propane tank and the gas regulator. Use the thumbscrew to grip the jaws around the large nut.
  • Twist the wrench in a clockwise direction to loosen up the connection.
  • Then, loosen the nut with the wrench. Continue to remove the nut by hand until you can pull the neck of the regulator from the propane tank connection. You may catch a small whiff of gas as the regulator’s neck is pulled from the propane tank, but this is nothing to be worried about.
  • Remove the tank from the grill’s cart. In some models, you might have to loosen a safety strap. Store the empty tank in a safe and dry location, outdoors and well away from any flames.

03. Should I Open a Propane Tank Valve All the Way?

When using a grill, open the tank valve all the way. Partially opening the valve can result in leakages.

04. Is It Safe to Smell a Little Propane?

It is perfectly normal to smell a little propane as tiny amounts can leak when the tank is in use. You can also smell the gas when the tank is nearly empty.

05. Why is My Propane Tank Hissing?

It is common for a propane tank to hiss. Hearing this sound is an indication that your tank is leaking so shut off all the valves and check for the location of the leak.

To Conclude

It is always a little scary when dealing with gas tanks, as we are well aware of the risks. However, knowing how to handle any kind of malfunctioning will make it much easier to deal with. 

Once you know how to unstick a propane tank valve, you can loosen the valve or spigot without any trouble. And this will make the process of grilling much easier. Happy cooking!