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Can't find a propane tank for your backyard grill? You're not alone

KCBS Radio San Francisco logo KCBS Radio San Francisco 5/4/2021 Jeffrey Schaub
a laptop computer sitting on top of a tree with Fallingwater in the background: Grill enthusiasts seem to be making an existing problem worse. © Provided by KCBS Radio San Francisco Grill enthusiasts seem to be making an existing problem worse.

Just as we’re about to enter backyard barbecue season a crisis is growing.

Those five-gallon propane tanks used for gas-powered grills are in short supply.

For every propane tank used by restaurants in the Bay Area and nationwide to provide heat for outdoor dining amid COVID-19 restrictions, there’s one less new tank available for backyard cooks who pride themselves on firing up finely-grilled ribs, hamburgers and hot dogs. Many big-box retailers like Home Depot and Lowe's are running short or are completely out.

© Provided by KCBS Radio San Francisco

KCBS Radio went to two such locations over the weekend and found signs warning of a propane shortage posted on cages that store propane tanks.

Supply is currently backordered six to eight weeks.

"During the winter, all these restaurants they…have outside seating and there was a big demand for having cylinders and having propane as well," said Donte DeCarli, manager of DeCarli’s Propane in Petaluma.

"They have those outdoor patio heaters and really anything they could get, there was a shortage of those as well," he added.

Grill enthusiasts on the hunt for a new tank seem to be compounding the propane problem. If you're lucky, some smaller retailers and gas stations seem to have what short supply remains on the market.

There’s also reportedly been more exports to China and other parts of Asia, increasing demand and prices.

The propane shortage is nothing new, as businesses were trying to get propane for those outdoor tables as far back as the winter. Customers throughout the South also were seeking propane during a series of hurricanes and winter storms.


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