If you own a helium tank or are considering getting one, there are some things that are important that you should know about them. Often times people may want their own helium tanks if they throw a lot of parties or they are a small business that often has the need for helium filled balloons. So it is important that if a person is going to have one they should know a little about them.
When you own your own helium tank you will need to have it hydro-tested every five years. This is something that is required by law before any helium can be put into the tank. When a tank is hydro-tested it ensures that the tank is safe and it can handle the high pressure conditions it will be put under.
When the helium tank goes in for hydro testing, they will unscrew the main valve from the top and then the tank will go through the testing process where it will be checked for hairline fractures in the metal of the tank. If the tank has no cracks in it, then it passes the test and the tank will be marked with an engraving of the date, month and year that it passed the tank. This will be done on the top of the tank. When the date is within a five year time period it is safe for refilling it with helium.
If the tank doesn't pass the test it will be condemned and it cannot be refilled ever again. This will usually happen if it is damaged in any way. Tanks can be damaged under extreme conditions like fires, dropping the tank numerous times. Often tanks that are made of softer metals like aluminum for instance will sometimes fail the testing.
When using a helium tank that doesn't happen to have a gauge on it, it can be hard to figure out when you might need to refill the tank. The only way to keep track of the helium in the tank then is to keep track of how many bags of balloons for instance that you have used. If you have a large tank then you can probably inflate around 160 balloons 17” in size and this is usually around two and a half bags of balloons that have 72 balloons in them. If your balloons are say 11” in size you can inflate about four bags of these standard sized balloons. So, if you have gone through two bags of large balloons or four bags of the standard size you will probably be due for a refill of your tank.
You also should make sure that you watch the speed of the pressure that comes out of your tank. The pressure is going to start slowing down a lot when the tank is starting to get low on the helium. It will start taking many seconds to start filling balloons when getting low on helium as compared to just five to eight seconds to fill balloons when there is a lot of helium in the tank.
To make things easier however, you might want to consider just buying a valve with a gauge on it for about a $100 and pay $10 a month for the valve. These valves are nice because they also have cutters on them to cut any ribbon or string you might be adding to the balloons.
If you have reason to carry a helium tank in your car you need to realize there is a limit and that limit is that you can transport up to 1000 cubic feet of helium in a car. You will also need to make sure you have a green diamond label on the tank before transporting it in your car. This label is to show hazmat crews and other safety personnel that the tank has some inert, non-flammable gas inside of it which is relatively safe. You also are going to need to keep the invoice for the tank with its UN number that is always assigned to these tanks in the glove compartment of your vehicle. When transporting your tank always make sure to secure it so it doesn't roll around so you can avoid damaging it.