Does Your Propane Tank Keep Shutting Off? 6 Quick Fixes

Does Your Propane Tank Keep Shutting Off

Are you trying to figure out why your propane tank keeps shutting off?

I know how annoying it can be when your propane tank is not working as it should, especially when you rely on it to cook or to stay warm.

But don’t worry; I’m here to help!

If your propane tank keeps shutting off, it probably has low propane levels, a faulty safety valve, or an open control valve. Having a leak or a defective regulator could also explain the problem.

Read on to learn how to keep your propane tank from shutting off!

6 Reasons Why Your Propane Tank Keeps Shutting Off

If your propane tank keeps shutting off, it’s essential to understand the causes of the problem to effectively troubleshoot.

Here are six main reasons why your propane tank is shutting off:

#1 Low Propane Levels

If your propane tank keeps shutting off, you must check the propane levels.

You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve seen overlook the possibility of an empty or near-empty propane tank when troubleshooting propane issues.

When it comes to propane use in any propane appliance, it’s not only about how full the tank is; but also propane flow and pressure. 

If you don’t have enough gas in the tank, you won’t be able to build up enough pressure to get good ignition.

You can get a flame for a little while, but more than likely, the tank will sputter for a bit and then shut off.

Again, we’ll assume the gas tank is full or close to full. However, it never hurts to double-check.

Hand Shutting Off Propane Tank
It seems quite obvious, but in many cases, checking that there is actually propane in the tank can solve your problem.

#2 You’re Dealing With a Safety Feature

In my experience, when a full propane tank keeps shutting off, it’s probably due to an issue with a safety feature.

The safety valve will automatically shut off the propane flow if it’s malfunctioning or in case of emergencies to prevent a potential explosion or accident.

For example, the safety valve will activate if there’s a sudden surge in pressure with the tank, a leak, a problem with the control valve, or if the regulator is malfunctioning.

So, if your propane tanks keep shutting off, the safety valve is probably activating due to one of the situations mentioned above. Keep reading to investigate the cause and solve the issue.

#3 Your Control Valves Are Open

My usual advice when fixing a propane tank that keeps shutting off is to check the control valves.

Check if the control valves along with the connected appliance

To help you better understand, I will use a propane tank for gas grills as an example.

If you connect a full propane tank to your grill and open the shutoff valve on your tank without first ensuring your control valves are closed, you’ll encounter a Lock Out problem.

What’s happening is the safety mechanism in the propane regulator on the tank side is detecting an abnormally fast gas flow due to a leak, a problem with your regulator, or if one or more control valves on the grill are open already.

So, ensure the control valves on your appliance are shut before opening your propane tank shut-off valve.

#4 You’re Opening Your Control Valve Too Fast

Your propane tank can also shut off if you open the control valve too fast.

You see, opening the control valve too fast or too wide instead of one turn causes the gas to flow too fast at one time. 

Ideally, you’d have the control valve closed when you slowly open the shutoff valve at the tank. After enough pressure has built up in the supply line, you’d ideally open the control valve enough to hear and smell flow before igniting the propane.

If you don’t allow enough pressure to build up or open the control valve too fast or too wide, the flow rate can be greater than necessary, triggering the regulator to go into safety mode and lock the tank out.

Remember, the propane regulator’s job is to regulate. If gas moves too fast, the regulator will slow or shut down the tank completely (if it’s functioning as designed).

Your propane tank can also shut off if you open more than one control valve at a time (as in the case of a gas grill). Go slow and open your valves one at a time.

#5 You Have a Leak

When I see a propane tank that keeps shutting off, I always check for any leaks.

You see, a leak will affect the gas flow rate and cause your tank to Lock Out.

How will you know if you have a leak? If you smell gas even if your control valves are closed, there’s a good chance you have a leak.

However, the rust buildup inside a propane tank can temper the gas smell. Another way to check is to take soapy water and spray it lightly in areas where gas can leak. If you see bubbling where you sprayed, there’s your leak.

Always handle propane tanks with care and store them away from heat sources to prevent accidents. If you supect a leak, turn off the gas, leave the area, and call your propane supplier.

#6 Your Regulator is Having Issues

In my experience, when a propane tank keeps shutting off, it’s usually because of an issue with the regulator.

If you notice an issue with the gas flow and have been manually adjusting the regulator by throttling valves, then consider getting a replacement.

If your regulator isn’t locking out even as you constantly throttle the shutoff valve, you have another indication that your regulator needs work or has to be replaced.

Two Propane Tanks Connected To A Regulator
The regulator’s purpose is to control gas vapor flow from the container to the burner tip.

6 Easy Steps to Correct a Propane Tank Lockout

If your propane tank keeps shutting off because it did indeed enter a Lock Out condition, even if you don’t have any leaks and your regulator is fine, don’t worry. There are some easy steps to reset your tank from Lock Out.

  1. Ensure the tank’s control valve(s) and shutoff valve are closed.
  2. Disconnect the propane tank and let it sit for at least 30 seconds. While waiting, you’ll probably hear a click indicating that the internal check valve in the regulator that locked your tank out is resetting.
  3. Reconnect the propane tank.
  4. Slowly open the propane tank shutoff valve (one full rotation should be enough to start).
  5. Slowly open your control valve and ignite.
  6. Open any other control valves as necessary.

On a side note, if you continue to experience a safety Lock Out, you’re probably dealing with another situation that isn’t related to your propane tank’s regulator, leaks, or valves being open that shouldn’t be.

Consider the external temperature if your propane tank keeps shutting off or locking out. You’ll also need to keep in mind the direct sunlight your propane tank is exposed to.

If you’re dealing with a hot day or an intense sun, your propane tank will get hot. I’ve seen that heat can cause the propane in the tank to expand and lead to more pressure than normal.

When the shutoff valve is opened, even if it’s opened slowly, that already built-up excess pressure will lead to the gas flowing faster than normal as it seeks the path of least resistance, causing a propane tank lockout.

The steps to correct the lockout are the same. However, until the pressure in the tank normalizes, you’ll probably need to repeat the steps above several times. 

Wrapping Up: Fixing a Propane Tank That Keeps Shutting Off

Hopefully, now you know how to fix your propane tank issues.

Remember that if your propane tank keeps shutting off, you’ll need to check the propane levels, safety and control valves, and the regulator. Don’t forget to check for any leaks.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this guide. If you found the tips above helpful, please read our other related articles below.

Have a great day!

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more