In many cases, propane tanks don’t need much maintenance apart from periodic refills.
However, you may occasionally run into hiccups that requiring troubleshooting to be able to use it again.
A fairly common issue is a jammed valve- you know the valve is stuck if it won’t budge, no matter how hard you try to make it turn.
Learn how to unstick a propane tank valve safely below, along with the measures you can put in place to prevent this problem from occurring again.
What Causes a propane tank to seize?
Before we look at how to unstick a propane tank valve properly, it’s important to understand what could be behind this problem.
In general, your valve may be seized due to the following reasons/factors:
Rust is one of the primary culprits in many settings and it’s especially the likely cause if the valve has not been opened for months or you have an older tank.
But don’t freak- a little corrosion doesn’t mean the end of the road for your valve.
To be honest, fixing it is not particularly hard -more on this later.
2. The valve has been tightened excessively
It is very crucial to familiarize yourself with the fundamental operational procedures of your propane tank before attempting to use it.
That way, you can avoid mishaps that may occur down the road and give you grief.
For example, you could have tightened the valve too tight with a wrench unknowingly, making it refuse to turn the next time you try.
In addition, opening the valve rapidly on a new tank frequently results in the valve getting stuck and you should avoid it by any means.
3. The valve is being obstructed by a foreign substance
The movement of the valve could be hindered by a foreign particle that previously found its way to a wrong spot inside or near the valve opening mechanism.
This doesn’t happen very often but you can never rule it out.
What is the remedy to a propane tank valve that Seized?
So, how do you free up a stuck valve?
Well, there used to be no magic bullet but now there is with modern-day valve designs.
Firstly, assemble these requirements:
- Rubber band
- A quality lubricant (you can even use PB Blaster or WD40)
- A pair of pliers
Before you start, ensure that you have placed the propane tank safely on a stable, level ground (identify a suitable flat surface to work from).
Besides, your working area should ideally be dry, well-ventilated, and cool.
Next, follow these steps:
How to unstick a propane tank valve– step by step
1. Tweak the grip
If your hand slips as you attempt to turn it, just wrap a fairly thick rubber band carefully around the valve- you’ll achieve better grip and make it painless to open.
It should be pointed out that any rubber band will suffice for this as long as it’s thick enough- the trick is to cover around the edge.
As an alternative, you could put on some gloves.
2. Make an effort to twist it by hand
A very common unwanted result of using crude tools to force the valve to unseize is the part coming apart.
To prevent this, we recommend that you initially strive to make it turn using your plain hands- though it helps, you don’t have to be a super strong person to crack it.
Simply place your hand on the valve and twist it emphatically. If you have not been successful the first time, catch your breath and give it another shot.
Sometimes all it takes to usurp the valve is your bare hands so give it your all before turning to tools.
3. Use the lubricant to nudge it to move
If the valve hasn’t budged despite your best efforts, try to see if applying some lubrication will pay off.
All you have to do is spray your lubricant (just a small bit) onto the shaft (as mentioned, some folks use products such as WD40 or PB Blaster in place of a lubricant).
Next, try to move the valve about quickly from side-to-side and up-and-down.
You then try to turn it until it shifts- again, spare no effort.
Not yet lucky? You have one more fix to try out..
4. Loosen it using pliers
The final throw of the dice is straightforward:
Grab your pliers then grasp the valve on the edge and make another attempt to make it turn – here you should twist it counterclockwise.
Of course, you should ensure that your pliers are holding onto the valve securely before you take a stab at opening it this way.
Caution: Do NOT exert excessive force when trying to open it as it may result in your valve coming apart.
How to unstick a propane tank valve – simple hacks to try
For the most part, the above procedure is the main and safest way to free up a stuck valve.
However, there are a few other procedures that can save you from all this hassle.
In fact, you should consider trying them out before anything else.
Here is the two most common:
- Try a little bit harder – this may sound silly but it’s occasionally true. People have repeatedly claimed the valve is stuck only to turn out that they were not trying with all their might! Request a friend/colleague to help if need be.
- Turn it the other way– another technique that works time after time is twisting it in the opposite direction. Had you attempted to turn your valve the other way? Try- you might be in for a huge surprise!
Can this be avoided?
Oftentimes, despite its undisputed importance, the valve does get much attention when it comes to propane tank maintenance.
Yet issues that make it stuck (highlighted previously) such as corrosion can be easily prevented, for example, by checking the area around it for rust buildup more often.
Also, following the operational instructions helps keeping in mind that you may contribute to its seizure by doing wrong things like over-tightening it.
Your owners manual may have additional suggestions.
If the valve still fails to dislodge, you may need to seek professional help from a certified technician or your propane supplier.
However, the above process works almost always.