GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As the warmer weather approaches, many homeowners will start picking up their yards and preparing for summer. With this comes filling up the gas tank for yard equipment and machines.
Unlike a vehicle, you can’t easily drive your yard equipment to the gas station to fill up the tank. This leads homeowners to store containers of gasoline at home to make it easier.
Here are a few safety tips to remember if you store gas at home:
Fuels are combustible. If you’re going to store gasoline at home, it needs to be stored properly to limit the chance of a fire or explosion. To do this, you’ll need an approved container or tank. These can be found in almost any hardware store. The American Petroleum Institute says the containers need to be tightly closed and handled with care.
Once the containers are full, they need to be stored at room temperature. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, says that you shouldn’t take this as meaning you should store your tanks of gasoline inside. To store it safely in your garage or shed, De Haan says you should keep it “in an area that’s not exposed to direct sunlight or temperature fluctuations.”
Containers should be stored away from things like water heaters, space heaters or furnaces, API said. It should also be stored at least 50 feet away from ignition sources.
“Gasoline vapors are heavier than air and can travel along the floor to ignition sources,” API’s website said.
If gasoline is spilled at home, API says minor spills can be absorbed with sawdust, paper or rags. Larger spills should be contained and collected before being disposed of at a government or hazardous waste disposal center.
“There definitely is a shelf life to gasoline. Some of the ingredients in gasoline will age, they’ll varnish with time,” Patrick De Haan, head petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.
De Haan says that the “expiration date” is around six months. So you’ll want to use it before the six-month mark. If you plan on keeping it for longer, some stabilizers can help the fuel keep and extend the shelf life, reducing the risk of vapor lock.
This shelf life extends to summer cars that have been stored over the winter. To help prevent vapor lock and reduced performance in cars that run, De Haan says you should put fresh gas in the tank.
“Most of the time, you won’t have a problem, but you’ll want to be mostly gentle on the car simply because that fuel might not have the performance it did when you filled up,” De Haan said, adding that high-horsepower vehicles will show the most decreased performance.
If a car doesn’t start, De Haan says you should take it to a mechanic to get checked out.
Be sure to check local authorities for rules and regulations for storing gasoline that is specific to your area.