By Russ and Tiña De Maris
A few weeks back we recounted the ordeal of a motorhome owner. She’d pulled her rig into a retail store that offered propane service. The pump jockey took one look at the date on her motorhome’s LP tank and declared it to be too old to be refilled. The owner was told she really needed to have the tank “recertified.” In the end, the pumper took pity and refilled her tank anyway. We asked you for your experiences. Turns out, LP refill rejection isn’t uncommon at all.
When James E. bounded into a commercial refill station in Mesa, Arizona, his Bounder got bounced. “That guy said that I needed to have the tank replaced,” wrote James. “That was the first I’d heard of it. He tested it with soapy solution and admitted that all the fittings were working with no leaks.” No soap bubbles, but still, “No soap!” James headed to a rental store that offered LP refills. “Too old,” declared the pump jockey. “When they refuse service, what can you do?” queries James. “I just don’t go back.”
Cat’s not all right
Sometimes it isn’t a date that leads to an LP refill rejection. Patrick G. shares this story from a feed store near Durango, Colorado. “Parked by the tank and walked in the store,” relates Patrick. “Nice young lady said she would do it. As we walked toward the rig, she asked if there was anyone inside. I answered, ‘No, just two cats.’ She stopped and said she couldn’t fill it because of the cats.” At the risk of offending feline lovers, the obvious question is: Are cats (other than in their own minds) people, too?
“Reject” propane pump jockey overfills
Sometimes propane pump jockeys appear to be the “reject.” Richard E. tells us about an “expansive” experience he had with his motorhome. “The person filling it insisted that the pump would shut itself off when the tank was full,” recalls Richard. “I explained to him that the tank was built before overfill protection devices were installed in the tanks. It was imperative to open the 80% valve so that the tank would not be overfilled.” Did his words get through? “He told me that he filled tanks every day and he knew what he was doing. Needless to say, the tank was overfilled and it took me quite a while to get rid of the excess propane. That filling station has lost my business!”
Larry’s cylinder strategy
But motorhome tanks aren’t the only LP refill rejection target. Larry S. wrote us that his strategy is simple. “I usually refill my LP cylinders at a local bulk supply facility, at a campground, or at my local lumber yard.” But what about when those DOT cylinders are getting close to the need for recertification? He does a trade-in. “I try to find an already refilled cylinder that is within certification and appears to be in good condition.” That seems a little overboard, doesn’t it? After all, wouldn’t the “trade in” companies recertify their cylinders before shipping them back out?
Larry responds, “I get some really strange looks from store clerks when I insist on swapping my empty for a refilled one that is actually within certification,” he says. “This is often a difficult challenge … I have seen many, many out-of-date tanks that have been repainted, refilled, and offered for sale.”
Larry’s lesson is simple: If you do go the route of trading in your cylinders, don’t count on the company doing its job. Check the cylinder collar for a stamped date. The original manufacture date will be there. Count out 12 years from original manufacture. Once recertified, LP cylinders will need to be recertified again, typically after five years from the re-cert date. But what’s the advantage of a trade-in? Larry sees it this way: “It’s less expensive than purchasing a brand-new cylinder and then purchasing the gas to fill it. And it solves my own growing collection of out-of-cert cylinders cluttering my garage.”
Can you help?
Had any odd RV experiences at businesses that should know better? We’d love to hear about them. Just fill out the form and put “They should know better” in the subject line.