Catastrophic Loss of Propane

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sperry
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Post Thu. Feb. 17, 2011 8:12 pm

coalkirk,
You're not alone with your experience--such a sad waste of propane. I had smelled gas several times upon arrival at a new customer's home last year and finally asked if they ever noticed the faint gas smell. They hadn't. When I asked where their tank was and checked it, sure enough, there was a leak. The homeowner told me he never could understand why the gas bills were so high. In this case, the gas company was filling the tank monthly and claimed they never noticed. Long story short, fixed leak no injuries!


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coalkirk
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Post Thu. Feb. 17, 2011 10:44 pm

Been out for awhile. To try to answer all the questions, yes it is my tank, regulator etc. Bought it brand new from the propane company in the fall of 2005 and had them install it. It is a single wall tank. Never heard of a double walled propane tank. Propane is considered non-toxic if it leaks so no special precautions needed. The leak is pretty obvious. Look at the ice cube in on the line where the discharge from the regulator connects to the pipe that goes underground. That's where it was leaking.
leak 2.JPG
Don't have a final answer from the home owners insurnace company yet but their initial assessment is that any damage or cleanup would be covered but not the loss of propane.
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill

"I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me." —General George S. Patton

Burning rice coal in a 1981 EFM DF520, nut coal in a hand fired Jotul 507.

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Freddy
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 5:18 am

coalkirk wrote: Never heard of a double walled propane tank.
You are right. Underground propane tanks do not have a separate shell, the "double wall" is a plastic coating to slow corrosion. Sadly it wouldn't have mattered in your case, the tank isn't the problem. This all leads to the question, "What does one do to make sure it never happens again?". For you, for anyone.
I wouldn't let the insurance company off so easy. If your refrigerator died they'd pay for loss of food. If your central heat died they'd pay for any loss. Broken pipes that leak onto a pool table will get you a new pool table. I'd argue that loss is loss and you feel strongly that this should be covered. Unless they can show you in writing that a leaking propane tank is not covered, I'd keep bugging them. Grrrrrr, I hate insurance companies! It's like their mission in life is to find loopholes so they don't have to pay you.
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steamup
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 8:32 am

coalkirk wrote:Been out for awhile. To try to answer all the questions, yes it is my tank, regulator etc. Bought it brand new from the propane company in the fall of 2005 and had them install it. It is a single wall tank. Never heard of a double walled propane tank. Propane is considered non-toxic if it leaks so no special precautions needed. The leak is pretty obvious. Look at the ice cube in on the line where the discharge from the regulator connects to the pipe that goes underground. That's where it was leaking.
leak 2.JPG
Don't have a final answer from the home owners insurnace company yet but their initial assessment is that any damage or cleanup would be covered but not the loss of propane.
A little tough to get a good understanding of the install from the picture. One possible theory is that if the line to the house is direct bury, the freeze/thaw of the ground "tugged" on the fittings enough to loosen them. There should be a small offset or loop in the supply line at each end to absorb the stresses of expansion and contraction of the line due to temperature changes, even if the pipe were in conduit.
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coalkirk
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 9:20 am

UPDATE: The cause of the leak was a squirrel chewing through the plastic line down inside the access to the underground tank. Here's a pic of the chewed pipe. They cut it out and put a repair splice in it. The access cover has to have a hole in it for venting. I'm going to install a piece of harware cloth over it to keep any critters out in the future. Now to do battle with the insurance company.
leak 3.jpg
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill

"I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me." —General George S. Patton

Burning rice coal in a 1981 EFM DF520, nut coal in a hand fired Jotul 507.

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009to090
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 11:08 am

coalkirk wrote:UPDATE: The cause of the leak was a squirrel chewing through the plastic line down inside the access to the underground tank. Here's a pic of the chewed pipe. They cut it out and put a repair splice in it. The access cover has to have a hole in it for venting. I'm going to install a piece of harware cloth over it to keep any critters out in the future. Now to do battle with the insurance company.
leak 3.jpg
Well now you got proof for the Ins Company.... 'Act-of-Nature' is or should be covered. email the pic to your agent, and save the hose.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

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coalkirk
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 12:42 pm

Well I've filed the claim but they haven't given me a real warm and fuzzy feeling yet. They said they never had such a claim and they are researching it. In other words they are looking for a legal way to tell me no. I've got a $1,000.00 deductable so I'm only going to get about half of my loss. Here's what I've done to prevent a reoccurance.
leak 4.JPG
leak 5.JPG
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill

"I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me." —General George S. Patton

Burning rice coal in a 1981 EFM DF520, nut coal in a hand fired Jotul 507.

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europachris
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 1:44 pm

I think the sticking point with the insurance co. will be how you will prove how much propane you had intially. They would be thinking you are trying to fabricate some tall tale to get a free load of propane out of them. But I do agree that it should be covered like any other claim - fire, flood, etc. Your load of propane was a "posession" just like a sewage-soaked sofa. :sick:

Squirrels are destructive little f'kers, and once they have "moved in", they are impossible to keep out. My father had a family of squirrels living underneath the eaves of the house. They had chewed in under the raingutter fascia boards. New fascia installed - chewed through it. New fascia and alumium flashing overlay - chewed through it. New fascia and new pellet rifle - no more problems. :D I recall him telling me he greased almost a dozen of them before the "problem" was solved.

I used to squirrel hunt when I was a kid. Fried squirrel and fried morel mushrooms....mmmmmm. Tastes like chicken.

Coalkirk, if that squirrel is still alive after his 'gassing', he may want to get back in there, and that fine wire mesh will be like so much Chef Boyardee spaqhetti to him. Keep a real close eye on it.

Chris
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coalkirk
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 5:12 pm

My agent didn't think the amount of propane was going to be an issue. Just if the loss of propane is covered. I told him I only had a cooktop and a standby generator. I urged him to have an insurance investigator come out to check and he said for a claim that small they wouldn't bother. In all the years I've owned a home I've had one very small storm damage related roof claim. I'm going to be pissed if they don't pay it. Someone told me the amount the insurance doesn't cover I could take as a causualty loss on my taxes. Any tax gurus here with an opinion?
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. Winston Churchill

"I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me." —General George S. Patton

Burning rice coal in a 1981 EFM DF520, nut coal in a hand fired Jotul 507.

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Yanche
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 5:35 pm

A couple of thoughts ... Call the Maryland Insurance Commissioners office and ask about such claims. Perhaps someone there can offer an opinion.

Second ... a few weeks ago a friend had a second occurrence with squirrel chewed wiring in a Toyota. Apparently the recipe for the wiring insulation includes soy. This is like food to the squirrel. I never heard this before but he researched it and swears it's true. I'd research the "like squirrel food" aspects of your plastic propane pipe.
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coaledsweat
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 5:52 pm

Whether you are covered or not would be in your policy under Coverage B, "other structures" according to the resident insurance agent.
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009to090
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 6:13 pm

The squirrels must like the smell of petrolium products....

Heres the gas tank of my log splitter...
If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

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Yanche
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 9:15 pm

I don't think it the gasoline or petroleum product contained in the tank. It's the tank itself. The soy bean oil used as feed stock to make the plastic tank is what attracts the squirrel. Must taste good to squirrels.
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SMITTY
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Post Fri. Feb. 18, 2011 9:22 pm

Those little bastards! :rambo3:

I'd run copper oil line in place of that plastic. I'm not a big fan of plastic anything.

And don't even get me started on the insurance rackett! :mad:

Sorry for your loss Kirk!
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paulfun
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Post Sat. Feb. 19, 2011 8:35 am

coalkirk wrote:My agent didn't think the amount of propane was going to be an issue. Just if the loss of propane is covered. I told him I only had a cooktop and a standby generator. I urged him to have an insurance investigator come out to check and he said for a claim that small they wouldn't bother. In all the years I've owned a home I've had one very small storm damage related roof claim. I'm going to be *censored* if they don't pay it. Someone told me the amount the insurance doesn't cover I could take as a causualty loss on my taxes. Any tax gurus here with an opinion?
Taxes-report on an Itemized deduction form line 20 and also file Form 4684 don't remember the specifics on it but if you read the instructions for the form as you are doing it they become self explanatory! Good luck with the insurance company!


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