Do You Have To Turn Off The Propane Tank After Grilling?

Last Updated on April 14, 2023

Is it safe to keep a propane tank open when it’s not in use or should you close it when you’ve finished grilling?

Turning off a propane tank

Received an interesting question from a reader and I figured there’s probably a lot more people out there with the same question on their mind so I might as well answer it here.

Do you have to turn off the propane tank after grilling?

For safety reasons, you should always turn off your grill’s gas supply when the grill is not in use. If one of the knobs were to be inadvertently turned on, the grill could fill with gas. The best case would be coming back to an empty tank and a waste of money. The worst case could be a backyard explosion if the gas were to somehow ignite.

Truth is, I can’t think of a single reason why you wouldn’t want to close the propane tank (or shut off a natural gas connection if you have one). Would you pull out of a gas station before screwing the gas cap back on and drive around with it open?

And what is leaving the tank open saving you anyway? It takes less than 5 seconds to close so wouldn’t you?

What can happen if don’t close a propane tank after grilling?

Keeping the propane tank closed when not in use is the best way to prevent a gas leak.

If you keep the tank open you’re relying on your grill’s control knobs and if someone (like a curious child or an over-active dog) bumps them or accidentally turns them on you could end up with a dangerous situation as that tank fills with gas.

Here’s another possibility that seems far-fetched but can definitely happen. Imagine a mouse or a squirrel gnawing on the gas hose connected to a tank that’s been left open. If their little teeth pop a hole in the hose gas will leak out.

Since gas is heavier than air it will tend to settle in low areas in and around your grill. What if someone lights a cigarette or citronella candle nearby? Or maybe your charcoal smoker is right next to your gas grill.

What do you think will happen when you go to light the charcoal?

A cartoon image of an explosion with the subtitle of "KA-BOOM!"

One more thing to consider:

Many believe leaving your grill’s propane tank open increases the chance of triggering a safety mechanism that reduces the flow of gas so you’ll be able to get a very low flame and temperature. I’ve already written about what to do when your grill has a low flame. It’s an easy fix but it still takes way longer than just closing the tank when you’re done with it.

What If You Forget To Shut The Propane Tank Valve Overnight?

Don’t panic. It’s unlikely that anything will actually happen, especially if the knobs were turned off. Just turn off the tank valve and open the grill lid so any gas trapped inside can dissipate.

If the knobs were open or if you have a leaky hose it’s likely your tank is more empty than you expect. You should check to see how much propane is left in the tank before your next cook.

Do You Turn Off The Propane Tank Or Grill First?

Best practice is to always turn off the propane tank first. Wait a few seconds for the remaining gas to exit the hose and then close the knobs. Shutting off the gas supply first ensures there’s no gas trapped in the hose.

When you’re ready to fire up the grill for your next cook, start by slowly opening the propane tank to full and then turning on the knobs and lighting her up.

Final Thoughts

Make a habit of always shutting off the gas supply when you’re finished grilling. Leaving it on may not necessarily lead to anything bad happening, but it might. There’s absolutely no benefit to leaving the propane tank open and it only takes a few seconds to close it, so why even take the risk?