A New Way To “Whip” Propane-System Checks Into Shape

The Presto-Link app from RegO® Products takes the time and paperwork out of this critical task.

By Cody Reeves


“Pencil whipping.” It’s a common chore for technicians who are tasked with performing leak checks and other duties as they relate to confirming the safety and efficacy of propane systems that are used to supply energy to homes, hospitals, schools and businesses, etc. At the end of the day, the information that is compiled by the pencil whipper –via the checking of boxes and writing of notes on clipboarded sheets of paper after manually performing propane-system leak, appliance, pressure and gas checks, et al. – is taken back to the office where it is either filed or manually entered (“keyboard whipping?”) into a computer program.

So, even while pencil whipping has been the go-to method for the recording of test results for generations of propane-system technicians, this time-honored practice does have its drawbacks. The first of these is the time needed to perform the testing process and record its results, along with the overall accuracy of the findings. While all technicians are conscientious and strive to do the most thorough job possible, there’s no denying the risk that human error can occur when performing a propane-system check. Many of these errors take place when reading the pressure gauge that is placed on the system or timing the length of the test. In both instances, an incorrect reading can lead the technician to erroneously report that the system had passed the test.

There are other ways that human error can enter the equation. Technicians that are rushed for time or may not have received the proper level of training can misread, misinterpret or misreport the results of the test. Others can fall victim to a “good enough” mindset that prompts them to consider a result that falls “in the neighborhood” of a passing grade, or are good enough to keep the system operational. In all of these instances, a misread or “fudged” result can have dire consequences should the system malfunction.

Other technicians can also fall into the trap of “that’s the way we’ve always done it” when confronted with new testing technologies. This will lead them to think that the old ways are as good as anything new, resulting in them shunning the new technology even though it may be easier and quicker to operate, and result in more accurate test results.

In fact, the propane industry as a whole has historically not been quick to accept and adopt to new technologies, until recently. There hasn’t been anything regulation-driven behind this increased attention to system-test integrity, just a stronger commitment by propane suppliers to ensure that their technicians “get it right” when performing the various system checks that help ensure the safety and reliability of the end user’s propane system.

Surveying The Field

The most significant technological advance in this realm, as you may have suspected, has been the development of wireless mobile apps for smartphones and tablets that initiate and record the results of propane-system checks. Before we dive into that new technology, however, let’s take a closer look at the various common tests and checks that a technician may be asked to perform during a visit to the customer’s home or business:

  • Leak Check: As defined by the NFPA 58 regulation from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a leak check is an operation of at least 3 minutes in length that is performed on a gas-piping system in order to verify that the system does not leak. It is typically done by using a pressure gauge that is fitted into the system courtesy of a test block or Presto-Tap assembly. Leak checks should be done immediately after the gas is turned on in a new system or in a system that has been restored after a service interruption.
  • Pressure Test: Also governed by NFPA 58, a pressure test is performed to verify the integrity of gas piping following its installation or modification. Also, per NFPA 54, all piping installations must be visually inspected and pressure tested to determine that the materials, design, fabrication, assembly and installation practices comply with the requirements of the code. Pressure tests should be done after the installation of a new or modification of an existing piping system. The test should be a minimum of 10 minutes and be done with air, nitrogen, carbon dioxide or an inert gas. The observed pressure shall be not less than 1.5 times the proposed pressure, and no less than 3 psi.
  • Application Check: General inspection of all gas-powered equipment in the facility, including, but not limited to, furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, etc. These checks should be done anytime a new application is installed, and then repeated as part of a regular maintenance schedule.
  • Gas Check: A safety check that is used to help ensure that propane system has been installed and is operating properly. Gas checks are most commonly used with new customers or those that have changed propane suppliers.
  • Cathodic Protection Check: Per the tenets of NFPA 58 2020, all ASME propane tanks that are installed underground, partially underground or mounded shall incorporate provisions for cathodic protection, which helps ensure the integrity of the storage vessel. When they are installed, all propane USTs have two magnesium-anode bags attached to them. These bags create a negative voltage, which helps prevent the UST from corroding. When the voltage is recorded during a cathodic protection check, it must be -0.85 volts or more negative, with reference to a saturated copper-copper sulfate half-cell. The initial test for a new UST must be completed within 180 days of its installation with a follow-up test required 12 to 18 months after that. From there, follow-up testing should be performed over a period not to exceed 36 months.

A 21st Century Solution

As mentioned, for decades all of these tests and checks were performed manually with the results jotted down by the technician. But the days of pencil whipping – and its inherent downsides – are over. The savior for propane-system technicians everywhere is the new Presto-Link Mobile App from RegO® Products, Elon, NC, USA.

Presto-Link features a Bluetooth transducer that communicates electronically with a RegO Presto-Tap Leak Detection System (LDS) gauge that is placed on the component that needs to be checked or tested, resulting in a safe, efficient and cost effective way for service personnel and truck drivers to test for leaks, obtain pressure readings and confirm the pressure propane in storage tanks. The results of the check or test are compiled and sent to the technician’s smartphone or tablet where they can be reviewed in real-time. (See Sidebar)

In addition to the time savings, Presto-Link instantly lets the technician know whether the system has passed or failed the check or test. These results are indisputable and cannot be overridden, so no more “fudging” the results or “close enough” determinations. Any systems that fail receive a “Red Tag,” which lets the technician know that it is not safe to operate in its current state, allowing for the troubleshooting of any problems with any subsequent maintenance or repair able to be scheduled immediately.

RegO is offering Presto-Tap/Presto-Link system in a number of configurations, with options for testing via the measurement of pressure from 0 to 300 psig or 0” to 50” of water column: individual High- and Low-Pressure Test Kits with 36” Hoses; combined High/Low-Pressure Test Kits with 36” Hoses; High-Pressure test Kist with Bleeder & Adaptor; individual High- and Low-Pressure test Kits with no hosing, bleeder or adaptor; and a combined High/Low-Pressure test Kit with no hosing, bleeder or adaptor.


Taking the integrity of propane systems for granted is never a good idea, and the industry has done yeoman’s work in helping to ensure that catastrophic accidents are kept at a minimum thanks to the support of the companies and the conscientiousness and capabilities of their employees. That doesn’t mean that improvements in testing, data recording and record keeping can’t be improved, and with the industry beginning to focus even more intently on maintaining compliance with NFPA regulations, the time is right for a next-generation solution to an age-old system.

That solution is the Presto-Link Mobile App from RegO Products. Working in consort with the Presto-Tap LDS, Presto-Link simplifies the checking and testing of propane systems and components, while optimizing its accuracy and putting the information instantly at the fingertips of the technician. The result is a new level of safety in propane-system applications and elevated peace of mind for propane companies, their employees and end-user customers.

About The Author:

Cody Reeves is the Manager of Product Management for Rego® Products and can be reached at cody.reeves@regoproducts.com. Founded in 1888 and headquartered in Elon, NC, USA, RegO Products is a premier manufacturer and worldwide supplier of gas-control products for use in the industrial gas and liquefied cryogenics industries, and in 2001 became a founding member in the Dover Corporation’s new OPW Clean Energy Solutions product brand, which is part of its Clean Energy & Fueling business unit. RegO specializes in the development of cryogenic valves, regulators, storage and containment systems, and recently completed development of a nozzle for use in the transfer of LNG. For more information on RegO Products, please visit regoproducts.com. For additional information on OPW and the Dover Corporation, please visit opwglobal.com and dovercorporation.com, respectively.

Presto! Your System Is Checked

With Presto-Link, performing a Leak Check at a customer’s home or business has never been easier:

  1. From a mobile device, technician initiates process by selecting “Perform Service” and searches RegO database for customer and propane tanks assigned to the account
  2. Technician selects “Container” or “Group Container” on which test will be performed and chooses “Leak Check” from dropdown menu
  3. Technician reviews “Tank” details and “Pre-Test Inspection”
  4. Technician indicates device that is to be checked by selecting appropriate ID number from Bluetooth menu
  5. After technician initiates service, Presto-Link starts timer and begins checking and recording “System Pressure”
  6. When timer runs out, results of the check are auto-populated and able to be viewed by the technician; no pressure drop indicates the system passed the test, any decrease in pressure results in a failed, or Red Tag, test
  7. Technician makes any notes or takes photos, as necessary
  8. Technician reviews all of the information for the check and acknowledges the results
  9. Technician reviews the results with the customer, who signs the smartphone or tablet to accept the result and acknowledge that the check has been completed

The test, review and acknowledge process is similar for those technicians who choose to use a tablet rather than smartphone, and both ways are a quick, easy and reliable way to accurately complete a check in no more than 10 minutes where it once could take 20 to 30 minutes, or more.