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Helium Cylinder Refills

At Helium Xpress, we can and do refill helium cylinders. However, there are certain criteria that must be met for us to legally and safely do so.

Please note if you purchased a Balloon Time kit from a store such as Party City or Walmart, these tanks are disposable and cannot be refilled. If you have an industrial cylinder, please continue to determine your refill eligibility.

Who Owns the Cylinder?

This may sound like a trick question, but it's not. The answer to this question provides us with valid and important information regarding whether or not we can refill your cylinder. You might believe you are the owner of the cylinder because it's been on your property for as a long as you can remember, it has a self-made tag with your business name on it or because you personally paid for the cylinder. However, in some cases, it's still not your cylinder. This is why it's very important to purchase helium cylinders from a trusted source. Let us explain.
The owner of this cylinder is Tri-Gas, Inc.

Business owners typically rent a helium cylinder and keep it on their premises. Unfortunately, some of these businesses move or simply close, and the owner fails to notify his or her helium supplier. Later on, this person may attempt to sell the helium cylinder to another individual or small business. If this happens and the purchaser then goes on to have the cylinder refilled, the purchaser may be in for quite a surprise. Every gas company has their own unique identifier (the company name on the neck ring) and a reputable company will not refill a cylinder that is from another gas company. They will simply direct the purchaser to have it refilled by the company he or she purchased it from. However, in this example, the purchaser did not buy it from a company. Even if the cylinder is taken to the correct company, based on the identifier, the company will likely confiscate the cylinder as it was their property and never properly returned. The purchaser may have paid a few hundred dollars for it, but no longer has any claim to it since it was not sold by the legal owner to begin with. Believe it or not, this happens quite frequently. That is not to say that every individual seller is untrustworthy as the cylinder may be legitimately purchased to begin with. However, we encourage all potential buyers to do their research.

Cylinders purchased from cylinder manufacturers have blank neck rings and are safe to purchase as they can then be refilled by most any helium supplier. We supply these types of cylinders and can legally refill these cylinders in the future as well.

Is the Cylinder within Test Date?

This cylinder was last tested in April 2012.
Because there is a star next to the inspection
date, the cylinder is certified for 10 years. 
Therefore, this cylinder is current and will
not need to be re-tested until the year 2022.
If you look near the top of a cylinder, you'll see at least one date stamped into the metal. If there are several dates, look for the most recent one. If there is no star shown, then the cylinder will need to be re-tested 5 years from that date. If there is a star present, then the cylinder is certified for 10 years. Once you've determined the testing interval on your cylinder, add the appropriate number of years to the most recent date listed. If today's date precedes it, then the cylinder is safe to refill. If not, the cylinder requires hydrotesting. During a hydrotest, the cylinder's integrity is tested. The intent is to ensure the cylinder is strong enough to contain the pressure it is designed to contain. Hairline cracks weaken the metal and could render the cylinder condemned, in which case it would not pass inspection and could no longer be used. This typically happens if a cylinder is very old, has been in a fire or has been dropped several times.

If the inspector concludes the cylinder is still able to withhold the compressed gas, then the cylinder will be stamped with a new date and will be certified for another 5 or 10 years.

Hydrotesting is required by the US Department of Transportation to encourage safe interaction with cylinders containing compressed gases. Filling a cylinder with an expired test date is both illegal and hazardous for the filler. In addition, in a worst case scenario, it is also capable of causing severe bodily injury and property damage to surrounding people and buildings.

Hydrotesting is a service offered by several companies, including gas suppliers. Currently, we do not hydrotest cylinders, but if the cylinder is owned by you, we can send it off on your behalf to have it tested. The turnaround time can be as short as one day.

NOTE: If the cylinder is not steel, but instead aluminum, it will require testing every 5 years. The "star rule" does not apply to aluminum cylinders.

Refilling a Helium Cylinder

Once we are able to establish ownership of a cylinder, we'll want to verify that the cylinder is also within test date. If both of these criteria are met, we will gladly refill your helium cylinder. If we cannot establish ownership, we will not be able to refill the cylinder. And once again, if your cylinder is simply expired, we can assist you in re-certifying your cylinder so that you may continue using it.

As always, there may be exceptions or unique situations. If you are ever in doubt, please ask and we'll try to assist in answering your questions when it comes to helium cylinders and refills.





Written by: Miriam E. Medellin


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