Psa Dangers Of Overfilled Co2 Canisters

Vishaquatics

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HI FishLore,

As someone who highly advocates pressurized CO2, I felt it was my duty to inform you all that it is very important that you go to a reputable place to get your CO2 filled in order to prevent overfilling. I went and got 3 tanks refilled today, each one was 15lb.

I went home and placed two in the garage for storage. I went outside in the garage to get something, and suddenly I heard a massive explosion. Then the sounds of gushing gas. One of the tanks was overfilled heavily today (there was still white frost on it after a few hours of filling) and the relief valve on the tank blew up.

This is a friendly PSA that compressed gas is a force to be reckoned with. This is the first time I've ever had a safety issue with pressurized CO2. Stay safe everyone.

EDIT: My CO2 is filled up by a professional gas company. This has never happened to me before, so just a fair warning that even professionals can mess up and overfill it significantly.

Also the relief valve on the tank blew up, not the tank itself. The relief valve did it’s job, but it’s still a bit scary nonetheless
 

Pwilly07

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I like that you are able to share this to warn people and that you were not injured. I do not like people filling tanks improperly....do it right or don't do it.
 
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Vishaquatics

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Pwilly07 said:
I like that you are able to share this to warn people and that you were not injured. I do not like people filling tanks improperly....do it right or don't do it.
I'm definitely lucky that I was not injured in this. Can't imagine what would've happened if it blew up when on the road in a car. I'm surprised this happened since the guys that fill up my tank have never overfilled it before and are professionals. This was definitely a first for me. It scared me so badly.
 

Pwilly07

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Yea in the car would have been horrifying. I live in an apartment until we can afford a house and I only have paintball tank, but it's in our bedroom. If it blew like yours I'd be terrified, and yours is many many times larger. I can only imagine what you felt. Hope it never happens to you again.
 

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Is the company that overfilled it going to replace the burst disc for you? This is getting ridiculous. The burst pressure on a burst disk is so far above a full working pressure its crazy. I would throw a hissy fit just to show the workers what kind of liability they create.

Were you able to be there when they filled the tank? Do they do it on the spot? The problem with co2 especially is that there isn't really a liquid stage. You have to go by weight, which means reading each bottle to know what the empty weight is and only filling up to the full weight from there. Co2 won't stay solid above room temperatures so as the cylinder warms up, the pressure goes up. You're lucky the burst disc wasn't tampered with. If someone had altered that, you would have had a catastrophic cylinder failure.
 
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Vishaquatics

Vishaquatics

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Wraithen said:
Is the company that overfilled it going to replace the burst disc for you? This is getting ridiculous. The burst pressure on a burst disk is so far above a full working pressure its crazy. I would throw a hissy fit just to show the workers what kind of liability they create.

Were you able to be there when they filled the tank? Do they do it on the spot? The problem with co2 especially is that there isn't really a liquid stage. You have to go by weight, which means reading each bottle to know what the empty weight is and only filling up to the full weight from there. Co2 won't stay solid above room temperatures so as the cylinder warms up, the pressure goes up. You're lucky the burst disc wasn't tampered with. If someone had altered that, you would have had a catastrophic cylinder failure.
I’m going back to them tomorrow and I’m going to inquire how to go about from here. I’m not sure if the entire cylinder is unusable now, in which case I’ll demand they replace the entire thing.

They take it to an “employee only”
Back room to fill up the cylinders. I can’t see them do it in person so I have no idea what they do or how they fill the tank. Today I’m pretty sure they had the new guy fill up my cylinders. I’ve never seen him before there so I think the worker might be new. I’m fully aware of the CO2 pressure increasing exponentially as the temperature rises. That’s the scary part in all of this. It just took a few degrees of temperature change for the whole thing to blow since it was filled so much.
 

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Vishaquatics (Koiman) said:
HI FishLore,

As someone who highly advocates pressurized CO2, I felt it was my duty to inform you all that it is very important that you go to a reputable place to get your CO2 filled in order to prevent overfilling. I went and got 3 tanks refilled today, each one was 15lb.

I went home and placed two in the garage for storage. I went outside in the garage to get something, and suddenly I heard a massive explosion. Then the sounds of gushing gas. One of the tanks was overfilled heavily today (there was still white frost on it after a few hours of filling) and the relief valve on the tank blew up.

This is a friendly PSA that compressed gas is a force to be reckoned with. This is the first time I've ever had a safety issue with pressurized CO2. Stay safe everyone.

EDIT: My CO2 is filled up by a professional gas company. This has never happened to me before, so just a fair warning that even professionals can mess up and overfill it significantly.
Happy to know you were not standing next to it when it happened !
 

Isobelle

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That’s crazy! I think I’ll stick to just tabs and supplements... probably forever.
 

deadhead

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There's no way to know if they overfill a cylinder. Could this be avoided by simply opening the valve a few seconds right when you get it? I have a 10 pound tank which was the only one the welding supply warehouse had. They told me when it's time to exchange it they might just have to fill my return cylinder while I wait. Would it be safer to just exchange it for a 5 gallon that has already been filled and sitting in their storage rack? I love my aquariums but something like that is not worth it.
 

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Your burst disk will do its job before a cylinder failure. There is a way to know if your cylinder is overfilled. Bring a scale with you. A 10# tank should weigh 10 lbs heavier than its stamped empty weight after filling.
 

ryanr

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Hi, great reminder about the dangers of gas under pressure (we get reminders every summer here for our BBQ gas cylinders)

Question, was there any extreme weather that may have contributed? i.e. filled in warmer environment, moved to freezing cold?
It's very unusual for a cylinder to be over-filled by a professional, and even more unusual for the cylinder to explode, unless there was something faulty in the valve/regulator.

Dry-ice is the result of (heavily) cooled CO2, so I'm wondering if something like that happened, and the pressure got too much.

Glad you weren't hurt, and can share the experience
 

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Was that tank still certified ?
All tanks need to be inspected every 5 years and the inspection is not just a general going over.
They fill the tank and submerge it for 2 weeks and test it again.
That was when they noticed my tank was a couple years past inspection ! It took two weeks to get my old tank inspected so I took a loaner home with me then .
I use the same supplier to get my O2 and that stuff scares me more !
A tank close to same size as my 20 lb CO2 tank holds a whopping 2 lbs of O2..That one scares me as they fill it by pressure not weight .
I get to watch my supplier fill my tanks so it is interesting how both get done.
 

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Glad nobody was injured.
Good thing it was in the garage, too. Quite apart from the possibility of injuries, an uncontrolled release of carbon dioxide in an enclosed space with people in it isn’t great. Not as bad as CO of course, but potentially a suffocation risk, though I don’t know if the typical cylinder for an aquarium setup has enough in it to realistically pose a danger to human life.
Isobelle said:
That’s crazy! I think I’ll stick to just tabs and supplements... probably forever.
I am with you on that. Gonna stick with my low-tech setups.
 
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Vishaquatics

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coralbandit said:
Was that tank still certified ?
All tanks need to be inspected every 5 years and the inspection is not just a general going over.
They fill the tank and submerge it for 2 weeks and test it again.
That was when they noticed my tank was a couple years past inspection ! It took two weeks to get my old tank inspected so I took a loaner home with me then .
I use the same supplier to get my O2 and that stuff scares me more !
A tank close to same size as my 20 lb CO2 tank holds a whopping 2 lbs of O2..That one scares me as they fill it by pressure not weight .
I get to watch my supplier fill my tanks so it is interesting how both get done.
Tank was fully certified and everything

Isobelle said:
That’s crazy! I think I’ll stick to just tabs and supplements... probably forever.
I still recommend pressurized CO2. It’s very safe as long as the tank is not overfilled and only around 800-1000psi.

My safety relief valve burst and did it’s job to prevent the actual canister from exploding.

Fishcat said:
Glad nobody was injured.
Good thing it was in the garage, too. Quite apart from the possibility of injuries, an uncontrolled release of carbon dioxide in an enclosed space with people in it isn’t great. Not as bad as CO of course, but potentially a suffocation risk, though I don’t know if the typical cylinder for an aquarium setup has enough in it to realistically pose a danger to human life.

I am with you on that. Gonna stick with my low-tech setups.
Most people only have 5-10lb CO2 cylinders in their house. In an enclosed room, that’s not likely to cause any issues because the concentration would be less than 5% in an average room size. In an enclosed car, that’s definitely an issue.

I’m still continuing my pressurized setup, but I will probably start bringing a scale with me to make sure they didn’t overfill it
 

Wraithen

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Vishaquatics (Koiman) said:
Most people only have 5-10lb CO2 cylinders in their house. In an enclosed room, that’s not likely to cause any issues because the concentration would be less than 5% in an average room size. In an enclosed car, that’s definitely an issue.

I’m still continuing my pressurized setup, but I will probably start bringing a scale with me to make sure they didn’t overfill it
Lol. When they bring the filled cylinder back out, maintain eye contact as you slowly set the scale down and then put the tank on the scale!
 

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Vishaquatics (Koiman) said:
HI FishLore,

As someone who highly advocates pressurized CO2, I felt it was my duty to inform you all that it is very important that you go to a reputable place to get your CO2 filled in order to prevent overfilling. I went and got 3 tanks refilled today, each one was 15lb.

I went home and placed two in the garage for storage. I went outside in the garage to get something, and suddenly I heard a massive explosion. Then the sounds of gushing gas. One of the tanks was overfilled heavily today (there was still white frost on it after a few hours of filling) and the relief valve on the tank blew up.

This is a friendly PSA that compressed gas is a force to be reckoned with. This is the first time I've ever had a safety issue with pressurized CO2. Stay safe everyone.

EDIT: My CO2 is filled up by a professional gas company. This has never happened to me before, so just a fair warning that even professionals can mess up and overfill it significantly.

Also the relief valve on the tank blew up, not the tank itself. The relief valve did it’s job, but it’s still a bit scary nonetheless
HI Vishaquatics (Koiman)

It could have been overfilled, or it could have been a defective pressure disc (sometimes called rupture disc or bursting disc) that burst and released the gas from the cylinder. The only way to actually know if it was 'overfilled' be to have weighed the empty cylinder and then weighed the cylinder after it was filled. If the weight difference between empty and full was substantially over 15 pounds then the tank was overfilled, otherwise it was just a defective disc.

When a CO2 cylinder is full the tank pressure is about 800 PSI at room temperature (PSI dependent on ambient temperature). A bursting disc for CO2 typically has a bursting pressure of 2700 - 3000 PSI (more than 3X the normal maximum pressure). It certainly is possible that the tank was over-filled or more likely an old, defective bursting disc 'blew' releasing the gas in the cylinder.
 
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SeattleRoy said:
HI Vishaquatics (Koiman)

It could have been overfilled, or it could have been a defective pressure disc (sometimes called rupture disc or bursting disc) that burst and released the gas from the cylinder. The only way to actually know if it was 'overfilled' be to have weighed the empty cylinder and then weighed the cylinder after it was filled. If the weight difference between empty and full was substantially over 15 pounds then the tank was overfilled, otherwise it was just a defective disc.

When a CO2 cylinder is full the tank pressure is about 800 PSI at room temperature (PSI dependent on ambient temperature). A bursting disc for CO2 typically has a bursting pressure of 2700 - 3000 PSI (more than 3X the normal maximum pressure). It certainly is possible that the tank was over-filled or more likely an old, defective bursting disc 'blew' releasing the gas in the cylinder.
I doubt it was old since I got this tank about a month and a half ago brand new. Additionally, this cylinder was heavier than the others, so I’m thinking it was overfilled most likely. Still, anything can happen. Maybe the disk was defective. Definitely possible.
 

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I can definitely see the benefits but I’m just not knowledgable enough to venture there yet, haha
 

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