Can Propane Freeze in Cold Weather?
Managing frigid winter weather can sometimes be nearly a full-time job here in Southwest Iowa, like last year when average nighttime temperatures flirted with single digits in January. Thankfully, we have propane to keep us safe and warm.
But how does propane itself stand up to the cold?
In general, propane handles extreme cold quite well, since it has a freezing point of minus 306.4° Fahrenheit (this is a big advantage of propane over heating oil as an energy source in cold weather areas like ours).
But some problems can develop as temperatures drop toward propane’s boiling point (minus 43.6°F). At this temperature, liquid propane can no longer vaporize, which is a problem because propane (which is stored in your tank as a liquid under high pressure) must vaporize in order to burn.
As temperatures drop, so does pressure inside the tank.
To avoid pressure problems during cold weather extremes:
- Order propane when your tank is one-quarter to one-third full to keep positive pressure inside the tank (and prevent inconvenient and costly propane run-outs).
- Clear snow away from your tank soon after a snowfall.
- Keep the regulator free of snow and ice.
Some other extreme weather propane tips:
- Clear snow and ice from propane tank regulators, vents, piping and valves to prevent damage that could cause a gas leak.
- Remove snow and ice from appliance vents, flues and chimneys to allow the exhaust gases to vent properly.
- Place a flag, pole, or stake next to your tank that is tall enough to be seen over the expected snowfall and drifts; this will help you find the tank in heavy snow.
- Turn off the main gas supply if an appliance fails to light or if a gas leak is detected.
January is the coldest month of the year here in Southwest Iowa – do you have enough propane on hand to keep your family safe, warm, and comfortable? Check your percent full gauge today and contact Pelgas for propane delivery when you are at 25% to 30% full.