Part of being a smart home-buyer is asking the right questions.
When you’re looking to buy a home heated by propane, the right questions can help you make a well-informed purchase.
Ask these questions before you buy so you know what to expect in terms of propane for your home:
1. Who owns the propane tank?
First and foremost, you want to find out if the seller owns or leases the propane tank.
If the seller owns the tank, the tank will be sold to you with the home.
When you’re the owner of the propane tank, you’ll have the choice to pick a propane supplier without being tied to a contract. But keep in mind, this means you will also be responsible for maintenance of the tank.
A leased tank, on the other hand, is the property of the propane supplier the previous owner used. In this case, a good follow-up question would be: “Who is the Supplier?”
Decide whether you want to continue service with the current propane provider
If you want to continue using the propane supplier that owns the tank, signing up can be as easy as changing the name on the contract.
But before you sign, make sure the propane company is a fair, reputable supplier.
Start by checking out their online reviews to gauge the quality of their services.
If you decide you want a different supplier, you’ll need to arrange:
- Removing the existing tank with the current propane supplier
- Installing a new tank with a new propane company
Before you make a decision, make sure you know what to expect when switching propane providers.
2. How big is the propane tank?
The right size propane tank in respect to the size of your new home and your monthly usage means fewer fill-ups and as a result better savings.
Though you’re heating the same square footage, you might need a different size propane tank if your usage differs from that of the previous owner.
For example, larger families place a higher demand on propane water heaters and furnaces than a smaller family. If the previous owner’s propane tank isn’t large enough to handle your family’s usage, you could:
- Risk running out of propane
- Incur emergency refill fees
So depending on how much propane you use per month, it might be beneficial to upgrade or downsize based on your needs.
Consult with the current propane company to calculate your usage and decide on an appropriate tank size.
3. Where is the propane tank located?
You’ll notice right away whether the tank on the property is above ground or underground. You will need to decide whether that works for you. For instance, you might consider an underground tank because you’ll have a:
- Yard that looks better without the visible tank
- Tank protected from damage or vandalism
Where the tank is located also determines how you check the propane level. With above ground, you’re checking a gauge on the tank or around the back of your house. With underground tanks, you’ll need to walk to the underground propane tank dome.
Don’t forget about propane gas lines
A good follow-up question to tank location is gas line location: where are the gas lines leading to your house? Gas lines could get in the way of home renovations.
- If you know where they are - you might have to change your renovation plans.
- If you don’t know where they are - they could be hazardous if you damage one.
The last thing you want is to accidentally damage a line and create a propane gas leak. A gas leak will incur repair costs for the gas line (i.e., patching or replacement) and can damage your home.
Knowing where the tank is and where the gas lines are saves you frustrations and avoids hazards.
4. Which appliances are running on propane gas?
The number of propane-run appliances you use will determine your annual propane usage and budget.
If you plan to add or replace propane-run appliances, you will need to adjust your expectations for your budget and potentially increase the size of the propane tank.
But make it easy on yourself and consult with your propane supplier for more accurate estimates.
They can help you figure out whether the house’s propane tank capacity will support the appliances you want to run on a reasonable budget.
5. Can you show me your history of maintenance and tune-ups?
You need to be assured your furnace and other appliances will operate efficiently and won’t break shortly after the sale.
Having the seller provide maintenance history (i.e., old invoices) will help you confirm that the propane tank and appliances are in good working order. For example, a propane furnace:
- With regular maintenance will have a longer life
- Without regular maintenance can lead to repairs and replacement costs in your first year of ownership
This goes for all other propane appliances, not just furnaces.
You'll have more peace of mind as the buyer, knowing that the propane tank, gas lines, and appliances have been taken care of over the years. Maybe more importantly, you’ll save yourself the costs of fixing a problem you could have avoided.
Avoid unneeded costs and headaches by asking propane-related questions
Make sure you gather all the info you need when going into new home ownership. You don’t want to buy a home that piles up propane-related inconveniences and expenses you could have avoided.
You’ll know what to expect regarding propane service, usage, and how to avoid unneeded costs, headaches, and hazards that could be incurred when:
- Switching propane companies
- Renovating your new home
- Upgrading propane appliances
Don’t be afraid to ask forward questions that get the details you need. Being direct and thorough with the selling agent will save you money in the short-term and long-term. More information will help keep your peace of mind from the time you buy the house and onward.