February 15, 2020

Can the Propane in my Tank Freeze?

Have you ever heard the old saying “Don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes”? This quote is perfect when dealing with weather in New England, especially during the Winter. We go from sunny and in the 50’s to an Arctic Cold Blast within days, sometimes even hours. If you have oil heating fuel, you’ve probably never worried about whether or not your oil will freeze as most tanks are inside. But if you use propane, you’re tank is exposed to the crazy New England weather – and those frigid temps – so, could your propane actually freeze?

Propane, in general, is a pretty reliable fuel when it comes to the cold weather – it actually has a freezing point of -306.4 degrees Fahrenheit. No that’s not a typo! However, propane’s boiling point is -43.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Weird, right? Not really when you truly understand how propane works. At its boiling point, that’s the point when liquid propane can no longer vaporize which is a problem because propane MUST VAPORIZE if it’s going to burn and provide heat. FYI – the propane in your tank is stored as a liquid under high pressure.

As the temperature outside drops, it also drops the pressure inside of the storage tank and could result in the pressure being too low to ignite and provide fuel to heat your furnace or boiler. So while your propane won’t freeze, it could become too cold to change its form and be able to fuel your heating system.

Avoiding cold weather pressure issues in your propane tank

  • Don’t let your tank get below the 25% full point. The more fuel in the tank the more positive pressure there is inside the tank – and of course, no one wants to run out of fuel during a cold snap
  • Keep snow and ice away from your tank, vents, piping, valves and the regulator – build-up could cause damage and cause a gas leak
  • Make sure appliance vents, flues and chimneys are clear so gas can vent properly,

If your tank is in an area where slow accumulates in drifts, place a pole or stake nearby so you can easily find it and clear snow.

  • Keep your thermostat a little lower. When you decrease the temperature in your home, you lessen the time your system is operating, and you allow the pressure in the tank to build.

If you ever suspect a leak, turn off the gas and contact your supplier immediately.

If you follow these simple tips, you should be warm, safe and sound all winter long.  If you have any concerns that your tank or system is not operating as they should – contact your supplier ASAP.

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