For expert propane installation technicians, there’s so much more that goes into installing an underground propane tank than meets the eye.
The benefits of using propane for homeowners and business owners are clear. Propane is both cost and energy-efficient, plus it’s an alternative fuel that’s kind to the environment.
Using propane instead of other energy sources, including electricity, reduces carbon emissions. Using it as your primary energy source significantly reduces your carbon footprint.
Another way that propane and our environment interact is how soil impacts the steel of underground propane tanks! This is where the specialized knowledge of installation technicians comes in.
Left untreated, the underground steel of tanks can corrode due to a reaction to the surrounding soil.
Corrosion is another way to say consumption. The soil would potentially eat away at the metal if we didn’t take preventative measures.
It occurs because of minimal, imperceptible voltage differences resulting in a DC (direct current) flow from one area to another.
To understand this reaction, there are two terms to know:
The location where the current flows from the tank to the soil, causing corrosion.
The location where the current flows from the soil to the tank. This does not cause corrosion.
So how do we prevent corrosion? By nurturing cathodes with something called cathodic protection. This is further bolstered by a propane tank protective coating.
The external coating protects 99% of the tank surface area, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Damage during construction or tiny soil scratches can cause minor defects, making these areas vulnerable.
So cathodic protection prevents corrosion at potential defect spots by applying DC from an external source — turning the tank into a cathode!
Keeping that DC prevents any corrosion from occurring.
We already know that anodes are points that incur corrosion and that “corrosion” is another word for “consumption.” Using this analogy, placing a material that’s more appealing and tasty to the soil means that it will focus on — and corrode — that material instead of your tank!
So technicians connect sacrificial anode bags. These are usually made with magnesium, and when coupled with the steel of your tank, DC flows to your tank, not away from it. This is what turns your tank into a cathode, a substance that repels corrosion.
These anode bags are buried alongside your underground tank and connect to it with a set of wires. Then, tests are conducted to ensure that everything is working as it should.
Anode bags are a long-term solution to corrosion that require simple maintenance and checks. In some cases, repairs may not even require the replacement of the bags — just electrical updates.
But even in the case that anode bag replacement is necessary, it can be done simply by digging holes to bury new anode bags and connecting them to the existing wires. It causes no harm to the ground to leave the old anode bags where they are.
It’s a lot to take in, we understand! But luckily, at Paraco, we’re experts.