Is propane tank INSIDE HOUSE safe?? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I am thinking of installing a small-to-medium size "vent-free" stove in my fireplace, and use this as the only living area inside our suburban home (about 30 miles from Chicago). It can run off both nat'l gas and propane, with a simple change of burners. When you run it ventless w/propane, it produces a lot of water (a qt/hr!), so you have to keep the flu open slightly. Question: since I'll have to have the 'lil white 20-pound patio-grill propane tanks inside my house (which I've been told is "illegal" in my area), what danger does this pose? The danger I hear of is leaks from the tanks. However, I plan on having TWO carbon monoxide detectors + smoke detector. We'll use it only during the day, and cut it off entirely during the night while sleeping. So, as posed in the Dustin Hofman movie "The Marathon Man", IS IT SAFE? If not, how do I make it safe?? Thanks for your comments!!

-- Bill (, August 31, 1998


What you are planning is very dangerous.

Also, if the situation gets bad enough to need this, you won't be able to get batteries for those CO and smoke detectors.

-- Buddy Y. (, August 31, 1998.

The big danger in the use of propane is that it is heavier than air. Thus it collects along the floor and will flow down stairs. If it finds an ignition source (water heater, etc.) then it will explode. This is what happens if there is a leak in the tank or connections to the tank. While the fireplace is running this should not be a problem. But leaks overnight can be. Check all connections with soapy water for bubbles. Store full tanks that you are not using outside somewhere. Hide them if necessary but get them outside!

Consider getting a large tank (500 gal) that can be buried (I think these are available)installed instead of the small tanks (cheaper in the long run and certainly safer).

Generally ventless fireplaces are safe in regards to CO but they do need fresh air to run correctly.


-- LM (, August 31, 1998.

A house in our town blew up about a month ago because the renter hooked up a propane tank to a water heater. You are just asking for trouble. If you own your home and if it burns down because of improper or negligable circumstances, you may not be covered by your homeowners insurance. By the way, the occupants of the house just barely escaped with their lives, everything was a total loss!

-- Bardou (, August 31, 1998.

Don't do it .... get out in the country (from Chicago, head west about 50 miles) .... and simply talk to a farmer. Look at what they did 50 years ago, 30 years ago.

Outside (large) propane tank, separate from the house by 30-40 feet, central fireplace (or two firplaces at each end of the house), covered wood storage area, covered well, ... its how they lived.

Don't even try to burn the propane inside -- even your thoughts of venting won't be sufficient. Use a wood stove, vented through the window if you have no fireplace. (Run the exhaust pipe sideways and then out through a (broken or replaced window pane) if essential.

We lost power during an icestorm down here for 4 days. Needed to use the outside grille (in the garage) to cook on (didn't even try it for long-term heat), and even that application (with the garage door open, and the garage-kitchen door shut) tripped off the smoke detector inside.

Remember, if the power goes out, your heater fan goes out, your heater (natural gas or propane) will trip off to avoid excess heat in the burner area. No power = no heat, even with natural gas furnaces.

-- Robert a. Cook, P.E. (, August 31, 1998.

I have been thinking about the ventless option, too. My natural gas co. assures me there will be no supply problems due to y2k. They maintain no electricity is used in the supply of gas to local homes. After a couple of hours on the web, I am convinced they don't know what they are talking about. The gas industry is set to test their systems in October 1999. Get an insert for your fireplace, and burn wood. Spend a couple of weekends in WI with a chain saw. You will have enough wood to last two years. Gas is easy, but wood is for sure!

-- Bill (, August 31, 1998.

This is interesting because I see you can buy a heater from Coleman which is connected to a mini propane tank. The heater is obviously for use inside a tent. I wonder why they would sell something unsafe.

-- Amy Leone (, September 01, 1998.


All fuel-burning devices are unsafe when proper precautions are not taken.

-- Buddy Y. (, September 01, 1998.

Amy: Concerning using the little radiant heaters inside a tent: I think you might find Coleman discourages that practice. Those heaters are useful, but not inside a small flammable structure like a tent or a lean-to. They might recomend placing the heater in front of the tent and pointed in....It is a radiant heater and will heat an area that it is directed at. I have seen tents go up in flames just from propane lanterns.

About those heaters....They make them much larger as well, set up to fit on a large propane tank (grill size) The single burner size is rated at 11,000 BTU (I think) and cost about $40 around here. I will likely be buying several to use as givaways to neighbors if it comes to that. They all have grills and tanks of propane. I'll also be buying spare tanks ASAP, both for this and the camper. Are they safe inside? Not totally sure. I have used them indoors in the past with no bad effects. I'll have to try one with our CO detector mounted near it.

Frankly, I prefer a good kero heater. Lots of clean heat and you can cook on it very well. Only problem is the kero itself. It won't keep forever and it's messy if you spill. AND it must be stored in a safe area outside the main house. Not explosive, but still a flammable liquid. I plan on having about 200 gallons stored and stabalized in drums, just in case.

Note to seems a new 'surprise' fuel tax just got dropped on all K1 kero sales, as well as new reporting requirments. I know several dealers who have dropped K1 sales rather than deal with the new paperwork. I plan on buying my K1 sooner than later, how about you?


-- Art Welling (, September 02, 1998.

What you're considering is extremely dangerous. Propane gas is more flammable than natural gas and ignites at lower temper- atures.Also, you cannot convert any ventless product from LP to Natural gas or vice versa. These products are tested by AGA and once approved you may not tamper with them without voiding any or all of their listings or warranties. Natural gas and Propane are both products and may be difficult to get. Put a wood stove insert into your fireplace. Make sure you reline the chimney with an approved UL listed system and have it professionally installed by a certified hearth professional.

-- Dan C. (, September 03, 1998.

Dan C, Could you please clarify what a reliner is in regard to a fireplace chimney? Thanks, Charlie

-- Charles Michael (, September 03, 1998.

Dan C.,

I recently went to a local fireplace store which sells fireplace inserts. The insert was about $1,000. The salesman said I'd have to reline my fireplace chimney with steel at a cost of roughly $2,000. I left and called Vermont Castings Co. The woman I spoke with said no lining was neccessary if I had a good masonry liner in the chimney, which I do. Any thoughts on the conlicting opinions?

-- Dale Rehus (, October 30, 1998.

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