I feel like I got hit in the gut with cannon ball and I need to vent. Weather was nice yesterday so I was out picking up some branches that had come down with the heavy snow and ice. I was in the area of my underground propane tank so I popped open the top to check the gauge. First of all the odor of propane was overwhelming. The regulator was covered in frost and an "ice cube" was noted on the line where it comes out of the regulator. There was a very noticable hissing sound.
A little background. I had a 1,000 gallon tank installed in Nov. of 2005. We have a gas stove (cooktop only, ovens are electric) and a 15kw standby generator. Needless to say our usage is low. The generator runs about 12 minutes a week to keep it exercised. When the tank was installed, I had it filled, 850 gallons. I last checked it in late November of 2010 while raking leaves. There was just over 700 gallons left. At my current usage that propane would have lasted me another 17-18 years! At this point many of you are saying, "Why did this a-hole get such a large propane tank?" I wanted the capacity to run the generator for a sustained period in the event of a major ice storm or terrorist related sabotage to the grid. OK, I'm a preparadeness junkie.
Back to my sad F ing story. The needle on the guage was so low, I couldn't even see it. I've lost about 700 gallons of propane. At the present cost of propane in my area, that's about $1,800.00 worth. As someone who goes to such great lengths to save on energy, this is devastating. That would pay for my coal for 2 years. So the propane company says they are not responsible and I understand their perspective. It was over installed 5 years ago. It appears I am just screwed.
So what can we learn from this teachable moment? First of all I had a beer summit. No I didn't invite Obama, I just slugged down about 8 beers last night to drown my sorrow. Obvioulsy I need to check the tank much more often than I have been. The tank can have a remote gauge installed somehow so I can check it from the house. The propane company will explain that to me Friday morning when they come out. I thought about placing a propane detector in the tank access pit but the propane company said that would probably not be a good idea.
I'm only going to get a minimum delivery of propane of 100 gallons for now. Cost per gallon, $2.69. I paid about a dollar per gallon less than that when it was originally filled. I think I'll plan another beer summit.