Propane System Red Labels Ensure Safety: LP Gas

The reasons for labeling propane tanks vary depending on the appliances used. (Picture by LPG Staff)

Labeling a device for a safety issue is a well-known practice in our industry.

There are variations on how this practice is implemented and documented. However, the general concept is well accepted. Using a label informs the consumer of a safety issue with the item so that the problem can be corrected.

The tag type also indicates the level of security risk the tagged item poses. Red “A” tags indicate safety issues that will result in a lockout of the appliance or part of the gas system until the issue is corrected. Red “B” tags indicate safety issues that must be corrected, but do not warrant a lockout of the appliance or entire gas system.

Another well-known tagging system uses red tags for any safety issues that require the appliance or gas system to be locked out until the issue is corrected. A yellow tag indicates safety issues that should be corrected but do not warrant a lockout of the appliance or gas system.

Common Reasons for Tags

The type of inspection that can lead to an item being tagged can vary. This can happen during a service call to a gas customer. A delivery driver may also label a part of the gas system based on their observations. Perhaps there is a problem with the supply tank, such as an illegible nameplate or a tank that is now too close to a major building due to an addition.

The first problem must be corrected before the tank can be filled. The last problem could be solved in a reasonable time. But this is a judgment call; a foot too close for a 500 gallon tank is a different situation than the same tank a foot away.

The reasons for tagging vary depending on the devices used and the system. There could be problems with the chimney system. Is the ventilation code compliant? Does the piping have excessive rust that could cause a carbon monoxide leak? Is the tubing crimped or bent in a way that suggests a leak point? Is the burner flame soaring, showing signs of a poor fuel and air mixture? Is there excessive soot formation in the burner chamber? Is piping poorly supported by code? Is there a cracked heat exchanger? Are the regulators within the service life?

If the nature of the problem poses an immediate security risk, the device or item should be locked down so that it cannot be used until it has been corrected. If the appliance or item cannot be isolated, the entire gas system should be locked out until correction is made.

Best Practices

The service person who finds the safety issue and applies the label need not be the person who repairs the device or item in question. It is important to inform customers that they must find qualified personnel to carry out repairs in a timely manner. Set a deadline for completing the repair. Write it down in your calendar. Check with clients to see if work is complete.

If your service technician does the repairs, this type of coordination is probably easier to manage. Nevertheless, a good paper trail adds a guarantee to ensure that the repair does not slip through the cracks.

During heating season, locking out a gas appliance or system can be tricky. Obviously, the goal is to remedy the safety issue in a timely manner so that the system can be returned to service quickly. However, never sacrifice getting the job done right to get it done quickly.

The guiding principle is to err on the side of caution. If you’re not sure whether the item in question warrants locking until it’s fixed, the safest course is to lock it, if possible. Don’t risk an unknown consequence.


John V. McCoy is with McCoy, Leavitt, Laskey LLC. His firm represents members of the industry nationally. He can be reached at 262-522-7007.

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