Because liquid propane (LP) is a flammable and explosive gas, changing an LP tank on a forklift can present risks. To keep ourselves and co-workers safe, we must act responsibly.
8 tips for responsibly installing an LP tank
Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
The fuel inside the LP tank is contained at a high pressure and has a temperature of 44 degrees below fahrenheit. Contact with the fuel can damage your eyes and skin and cause frostbite. Avoid contact with wrap-around safety glasses and thick, rubber gloves.
Check for remaining fuel
Never assume that because the forklift engine died that fuel isn’t present. Ensure the line and fitting have no remaining fuel that can spray on your hands or face when you disconnect the coupler.
Unscrew the fitting off the tank. Remove the empty tank and store it properly.
A leaking tank can result in an explosion. Inspect your fuel tank for frost build-up, dents, gouges, heavy rust, and o-ring condition. Also check the forklift hose and fitting for any visible damage.
Put the tank on the locating pin. The locating pin on the forklifts tank bracket serves four purposes: it positions the tank properly for the hose and fitting alignment to connect without twisting or stretching the hose; ensures the pressure relief valve won’t spray LP fuel; aligns the main valve pick-up tube inside the tank to get almost all the fuel out of the bottom; and allows the fuel gauge to read correctly.
Check the valve and o-ring
Confirm the new tank valve is off. If the hose coupler is screwed on an opened tank valve, it could upset the check valve in the tank fitting and spray LP. Also, ensure the o-ring from the empty tank did not pull out, jamming the check valve. If no fuel can pass through the check valve, the forklift will not start up.
Connection and the valve
Screw the forklift fitting all the way and hand tighten it on the tank fitting. Slowly open the valve, being careful not to over-tighten it in cases of leaks, fire or explosions; you need to be able to shut off the valve quickly. With the valve opened fully, the 10% surge valve inside the tank will shut the tank off in case an LP hose or fitting fails.
Look, listen and smell
If you see visible white frost, hear rushing noises or smell a bad odor – You have a leak! Because it is heavier than air, LP vapor pools on the ground and will look for a source of ignition. Shut off the tank valve and ventilate the area.