If you’re like most people, you probably have a gasoline-powered lawnmower, leaf blower, or chainsaw – and if you’re like most people, you probably have to store that somewhere in your garage. Here’s how to store gasoline in your garage to help keep it fresh – and to keep you safe, too.
What You'll Learn Today
- Is it Safe to Keep Gasoline in the Garage?
- How Do You Store Gasoline Without it Going Bad? 6 Tips to Safely Store Gasoline in a Garage
- How Long Can I Store Gasoline in My Garage?
Is it Safe to Keep Gasoline in the Garage?
Gasoline is extremely flammable, so it’s natural to wonder whether it’s safe to keep it in the garage.
The short answer? You should try not to. Storing gas in your home – an attached garage counts as part of your home! – is a fire hazard as well as a threat to public health. If you are exposed to the fumes, you could suffer from a variety of health issues, like headaches and breathing problems.
Instead, try to keep your gasoline in an outdoor structure like a tools shed or storage barn. A separate garage that isn’t attached to the house can also be a good option.
Can a Gas Explode in a Garage?
Another reason to keep gas cans out of your attached garage? Plastic cans may be prone to exploding in hot weather.
Explosions occur when the vapors in the gas can come into contact with flames or a heat source outside of the can. A nearby open flame, a spark from a motor, or even static can cause gasoline vapor to ignite.
Prevent this hazard by keeping gasoline out of your home. It’s fine to store gas in a separate garage or outbuilding but it’s risky in an attached garage. Use metal gas cans whenever possible, too. Though these are more expensive, they are much safer, particularly if they are UL-approved and equipped with flame arresters and spring-loaded caps.
How Do You Store Gasoline Without it Going Bad? 6 Tips to Safely Store Gasoline in a Garage
Gasoline can be dangerous if not stored properly. Plus, if you don’t store it correctly, it can go bad more quickly than you’d like. Here are some tips to stay safe and keep your gasoline fresh in storage.
1. Use an Approved Fuel Can or Tank
Don’t store gasoline in bulk or in second-hand containers. Use only approved fuel cans that are five gallons or less. Try not to fill the can to the brim, either. Leave a bit of room for expansion.
Some people use recycled containers like old milk jugs or glass bottles to store gas. Don’t do this. These translucent or transparent containers allow light to penetrate in. This degrades the gas and can cause a spill.
Keep these containers tightly sealed and be careful when handling them to avoid spills. Label all of your containers clearly. Use the right color can, too, even if it means buying separate containers.
In general, blue indicates kerosene, yellow represents diesel, and red is the color most gas cans will have.
2. Store Out of Direct Heat
Keep your gas cans as cool as possible. Get them out of direct sunlight as well as heat sources like pipes, space heaters, furnaces, or hot water heaters. They should also be stored at least 50 feet away from ignition sources like pilot lights.
Don’t worry about the gas freezing, either. Typically, gas won’t freeze until it’s -50 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Although it can start to thicken and cause engine problems below -10 degrees Fahrenheit, this is rare – and using a stabilizer can help.
Also, make sure any gas cans you are storing in the garage are out of the reach of children and pets.
3. Check Local Regulations
For the most part, you don’t need any kind of approval in order to store gasoline on your property. However, there are often county, city, or HOA ordinances that might apply to storing gas in your garage.
Check with your local fire department if you’re not sure. Most of the time, they don’t care what you do – the exception will be if you are storing large aboveground tanks of gasoline.
You will also want to check your homeowners’ insurance. Some have gas storage regulations, saying that you can only store what is deemed a “reasonable” amount of gas – such as however much you might need to power a lawnmower – without a special permit.
4. Have a Plan for Spills
When you’re storing gasoline in the garage, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that you have a plan in place for spills.
For a small spill, you can clean up easily with some rags, kitty litter, or sawdust. A larger spill needs to be contained. You can wrap a garden hose in a circle around the spill and collect the liquid.
You’ll need to check with your municipality on where to dispose of the spilled gas (and the materials used to soak it up). Don’t put it down a rainwater drain and don’t put it in the standard garbage. This can create the risk of fire, hurt the environment, and even contaminate water sources nearby.
You’ll have to check, but most of the time, you’ll need to dispose of it at a hazardous waste drop-off site.
5. Put it On a Flat Surface
Make sure the gas can is positioned on a flat surface where it can’t easily be tipped over. Make sure the can isn’t too full and that the cap is screwed on tightly. If you’re storing it on concrete, place a piece of plywood beneath it to stabilize it and prevent fluctuations in temperature.
6. Limit the Amount You Store
Regulations vary everywhere, but in general, fire codes specify that you should not keep more than 25 gallons of gas in one place. Separate it into multiple containers if you must keep more gas than that on your property.
How Long Can I Store Gasoline in My Garage?
Gasoline can be stored for about a month after you’ve purchased it. However, if you follow proper storage guidelines, it may be able to stay fresh for up to six months. Unless it’s been treated with a stabilizer, you should toss any gas that’s older than 12 months at a disposal facility.
Toss gasoline if you see signs of oxidation. Oxidized gas will have a darker color.
The main thing, however, to keep in mind when storing gasoline in the garage is safety. Make sure you’re following all safety tips to prevent any risk of combustion or fire. The best tip to follow is to make sure that you are storing gasoline at least 50 feet away from any ignition source.
Here’s a bonus video to help you make sure that you have checked off all the boxes:
Storing gasoline in the garage can be a tricky business. Doing what many people do – which is pouring it into an old milk jug – is not only unsafe but is also wasteful and counterintuitive to what you’re trying to do, since it won’t keep the gasoline fresh.
Instead, follow the tips above to make sure you’re keeping your fuel fresh – and yourself and your family safe in the process.