Proper Handling of Propane Fuel Tanks for Forklifts

Many forklifts and other types of industrial equipment used indoors and outdoors are powered by liquid propane gas (LPG). They are generally less costly than electric forklifts, refueling is much faster than recharging, and they feature shut-off safety features that stop the flow of fuel in the event of an accident.

But propane still needs to be handled with care. While it is a clean-burning, non-toxic fuel source that produces far less carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, and hydrocarbon than gasoline and diesel powered forklifts, they still should be used in well-ventilated areas rather than small, enclosed spaces.

Procedures for Changing Fuel Tanks

One of the biggest benefits of propane forklifts is that the LPG tanks usually can be changed out in just a few minutes, compared to the several hours it can take to recharge an electric forklift used for indoor operations.

When changing LPG cylinders, safety measures should be taken to prevent accident or injury. Always wear eye protection as well as insulated, loose-fitting gloves made of leather or insulated neoprene.

Make sure the valve on the cylinder is closed then run the engine until it stops to ensure the connection hose is empty. Then shut off the engine and open the connecting nut to inspect valves for leaking. Make sure you don’t use metal tools to do this because they could cause sparking.

Disconnect the hose and holding straps, remove the empty cylinder, and replace it with a full cylinder in the same position. Reconnect the holding straps and tighten the connecting nut.

Dealing with Leaks 

Open the valve on the propane cylinder slowly to make sure it isn’t leaking. If you suspect a leak, pour some soapy water over the connection. If it bubbles, there’s a leak. You also may be able to smell a leak.

If there is a leak, try tightening the nut. If that doesn’t work, change the cylinder with a fresh one. If there is still a leak, change the hose.

Starting Up Your LPG Forklift

If you are certain there are no leaks, open the propane tank valve fully, going slowly. You want to make sure that the hose is turned inward. Then secure the hose downward.

Check to make sure the cylinder tank is secured with the straps so it won’t come loose while the forklift is in motion. If it is, you can start the engine and get back to work.


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