Moving into a home with LPG tank nightmare - suggestions?

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Hi all,

Will move shortly into a property served by a private underground LPG tank. 
I am due to move next week and the vendors have informed that the gas is running low (10-ish%) and advised to try and sort this asap to avoid running out of gas after completion.

The problem is that due to the tank location only Calor (who currently serves the property) seems to be happy to offer me a contract and their price is fine for the first year (39p) but becomes ''variable'' in the second: I have tried to have this changed but they were irremovable.

All the other companies I have tried to call don't like the location of the tank so it looks like this is a battle I will eventually lose - have you got any suggestions and/or do you know how bad these ''variable'' contracts are?

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  • thozza
    thozza Posts: 307 Forumite
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    Hi, I see that you posted a similar question in the LPG sticky thread. If you look back through that thread a few pages there are plenty of discussions about the large suppliers variable contracts. 39p is not a bad price at the moment, no doubt the Calor contract will have some sort of 'maximum' they can move the price after the fixed period, but may also be worded so they can get apply a higher price if they have extenuating circumstances.

    You should probably try and find out why other suppliers are unwilling to quote, if your tank is 'non compliant' there is advice in the sticky thread about getting them to change it to comply with current requirements, it is their responsibility and their tank. 
  • pinkteapot
    pinkteapot Posts: 8,040 Forumite
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    edited 4 February 2022 at 8:52AM
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    Sorry to thread hijack, but I'm struggling to find the advice on getting my current supplier to make our tank compliant in the stickies... Are you able to point me to it, please?

    A couple of months ago I had to sign a new contract with Calor. I tried to switch to Flogas, who were a fair bit cheaper, but they wouldn't accept our tank. We ended up signing a new contract with Calor but at several pence per litre more than our previous contract. We feel like we're now stuck with Calor forever, unless we fork out to make the tank compliant. 

    Is it in fact Calor's responsibility to sort it? 

    Part of the problem for us is that Flogas said that as the tank lid is in grass immediately adjacent to our drive, it should have a crash barrier 1m from the lid to prevent vehicles driving over it. Aside from the ugliness of a crash barrier outside the house, at 1m away this would actually be on our drive and prevent us using part of it. So it might be we just end up at Calor's mercy forever more because we don't want that. *sigh*

    OP: Our first contract with Calor was my first time ever on LPG, and I didn't know to negotiate for a price cap in year 2. The variable pricing in year 2 was absolutely fine for us. The price didn't change from our first year fixed price for the first six months of year 2. And when they did write saying the price was going up, they'd put it up by so much that we were allowed to break contract anyway. The contract had a clause saying if they put it up by more than X pence within a three month period, we could leave. Check your small print for something similar. 
  • Mister_G
    Mister_G Posts: 1,928 Forumite
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    edited 4 February 2022 at 5:19PM
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    Sorry to thread hijack, but I'm struggling to find the advice on getting my current supplier to make our tank compliant in the stickies... Are you able to point me to it, please?

    A couple of months ago I had to sign a new contract with Calor. I tried to switch to Flogas, who were a fair bit cheaper, but they wouldn't accept our tank. We ended up signing a new contract with Calor but at several pence per litre more than our previous contract. We feel like we're now stuck with Calor forever, unless we fork out to make the tank compliant. 

    Is it in fact Calor's responsibility to sort it? 

    Part of the problem for us is that Flogas said that as the tank lid is in grass immediately adjacent to our drive, it should have a crash barrier 1m from the lid to prevent vehicles driving over it. Aside from the ugliness of a crash barrier outside the house, at 1m away this would actually be on our drive and prevent us using part of it. So it might be we just end up at Calor's mercy forever more because we don't want that. *sigh*

    OP: Our first contract with Calor was my first time ever on LPG, and I didn't know to negotiate for a price cap in year 2. The variable pricing in year 2 was absolutely fine for us. The price didn't change from our first year fixed price for the first six months of year 2. And when they did write saying the price was going up, they'd put it up by so much that we were allowed to break contract anyway. The contract had a clause saying if they put it up by more than X pence within a three month period, we could leave. Check your small print for something similar. 
    I did reply earlier, but my reply seems to have disappeared!

    The guidance from Calor on UG tank positioning is here:

    LPG Tank Installation Options For Central Heating | Calor

    But expect that you've seen that already.

    The Flogas information is here:

    Underground LPG Tanks | Flogas | Flogas

    but I expect that you've seen that too!

    I'm assuming that Calor installed the tank in the first place.

    There is no reference to having to put a crash barrier around the tank cover in either of these.  I would have thought that a low level wooden fence would be more than adequate to stop anyone parking on top of it.

    I have had LPG for over 38 years now and Calor had to move the above ground tank about 15 years ago, as they had located it under a overhead power line originally.  This was all done at their expense.

    I ditched Calor about 11 years ago and am now supplied by a local independent at a very attractive price.

    Hope this helps.
  • pinkteapot
    pinkteapot Posts: 8,040 Forumite
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    Yep, sadly Flogas were insistent that a crash barrier was needed (I did try to argue it), so wouldn't accept us and we had to stay with Calor. 

    Calor did install the tank, but it was early during the new-build process (house is 2 years old), well before the front landscaping.

    If we'd viewed the plot/house before the tank went in, and if I'd done some research, I'd have asked them to put the tank in the back garden, not the front. There's good side access for the hose for deliveries, we would have avoided this issue of potential parking on top, and it would have been far cheaper in 30 years when we have to dig up and replace the tank as we'll have to have our driveway completely redone at that point as it'll be destroyed by the excavation work. :(

    People on here did suggest putting boulders around the tank lid for the Flogas inspection then removing them after, but with the cost/faff of doing that we just stuck with Calor at the higher price.
  • Mister_G
    Mister_G Posts: 1,928 Forumite
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    Sorry to hear that.  It almost sounds like Flogas don't want your business.

    Are there any other suppliers that you could try? Fortunately my local independent doesn't seem too fussy about things like that.

    At least your 39ppl isn't too bad in the current climate.  I now pay 38ppl, having just gone up from 33ppl last year.
  • Sorting_Hat
    Sorting_Hat Posts: 123 Forumite
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    edited 9 February 2022 at 5:31PM
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    The issue with having the tank in the back garden is there must be a line of sight from the tanker to the tank. So imagine the driver, he must be able to stand at a point and look one way at his tanker then turn the other way to see the tank. Now this can be at a corner but he must be able to do this by law.

    As for underground tanks no vehicle must park within 3m from the turret to cater for the orientation of the tank.  Also underground tanks must not be under any paving or decking of any kind. They can only be under pea shingle at the most (good drainage)

    The tank is the property of the LPG firm but it is the responsibility of the customer to keep the site compliant.  
  • pinkteapot
    pinkteapot Posts: 8,040 Forumite
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    As for underground tanks no vehicle must park within 3m from the turret to cater for the orientation of the tank.  Also underground tanks must not be under any paving or decking of any kind. They can only be under pea shingle at the most (good drainage)



    Flogas said vehicles must be stopped from parking closer than 1m, not 3m?
  • Sorting_Hat
    Sorting_Hat Posts: 123 Forumite
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    edited 11 February 2022 at 4:07PM
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    I refer you to the HSE  and the rules regarding sources of ignition.  As well as this rather handy picture on the Flogas and Calor websites. For underground tanks the measurement is from the edge of the hatch rather than the edge of the tank as it is for aboveground ones.

    https://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/lpg/storagetank.htm

    https://www.flogas.co.uk/home/underground-tanks

    https://www.calor.co.uk/home-energy/new-to-lpg/my-options/lpg-installation-options?tabname=below-ground-lpg-tank

    https://www.hse.gov.uk/gas/lpg/separationdistances.htm

    The separation distance from a tank to a fixed source of ignition is 3m. That is what a motor vehicle is at the point that it starts its engine.

    A barrier is to stop vehicles reversing into an above ground tank usually in an industrial setting as illustrated on the HSE website. If vehicles were to park nearby than additional hatching would need to be painted on the ground to give that 3m no parking zone.
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