Propane Tanks and Lot Line Setbacks

Discussion in 'Plumbing Code Questions' started by Buddleworks, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. Buddleworks

    Buddleworks Old House Lover

    Jan 18, 2013
    Advertising Photographer/Writer/Designer
    Bucks County, PA
    Hi all, I'm in Bucks County, PA...

    A neighbor just installed 3 - 120 gallon (water gallons that is... they can hold up to 96 gal LP each) propane tanks that are ganged together--right on the other side of my board privacy fence. Actually, they are installed several inches over my lot line. (I had installed the fences about 1' on my side of the lot line). Besides the encroachment issue, their installer told them it was correct "code" to install these three tanks (totaling 360 gallons) with zero clearance to the lot line.

    My oil/propane supplier said they "never" install on the lot line and in fact the code says 10' is the clearance. He cited the dangers, including that their supplier can't guarantee that there won't be a BBQ, lawn mover, etc. (i.e., a source of ignition) during transfer/fill-ups on MY side of the fence.

    I have checked the NFPA's #58 code regarding propane installations, but it's very confusing on the subject of ganged (they call them "multicontainer") tank setups. One way it reads like you have to use the "aggregate total" of gas for all tanks ganged together (360 in this case), and another way makes it sound like there is zero clearance for tanks under 125 gallons.

    The real problem is that I also need to use this corner of my property soon for a propane fired generator install... the code also seems to say that two different tank installations need to be minimum 25' apart (again, if I'm reading it correctly... another line makes it sound like 10 ft.). So, their install might prevent me from installing my generator setup to code!

    This was an odd coincidence because I had just researched propane installations because of my own generator plans, and was going to make sure that my own tank was 10' from the lot line.

    There are about 24 feet from my house to the lot line. My generator needs to be 5' min' from the house... and my propane tank needs to be min' 10 feet from the generator. Things would be very close with the code clearances overlapping. Oh... their tanks and set in a line alongside the fence--parallel to it--about 10 -12 ft wide I guess.

    Any advice? Any specific sites that are specific--and clear--about the code? I live in a fairly rural town that has no specific codes about propane installs... the closest being that "structures" can't be built closer than 12' to a lot line.

    This owner has owned the property for 2 years as a landlord (it is a side by side, two apartment house), but he's just moved in for a year or so while he has his own home built. (He's a builder or re-habber I think). I've been in my home for 14 years. I don't want to cause hassles with him, but I fear that not meeting code on this is simply not safe. I'm a true DIYer but when it comes to the specialties (roofing, furnaces, generators, etc.) I hire pros. I like doing things to code myself and want the same here.

    Thanks for the help...
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    Assuming you can prove the lot line issue, you have grounds to force them to move the tanks. I don't know if this sort of installation requires a permit or if one was pulled. A call to the city inspector's office would tell you that...then bring up the issue about where it is. You don't want to leave it with the tanks on your property without recording the issue.
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  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    This is a fire issue, so call you local fire department and have THEM inspect the installation.

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