Do Cold Temperatures Affect My Propane Tank?

What You Need to Know About Winter Weather and Propane

propane Pittsylvania county, va If you’re used to heating your home with oil, you know that very occasionally, it can get cold enough here in northern North Carolina for your heating oil to gel, which leads to problems keeping your home warm. If you have an above-ground propane tank, you might be wondering if your propane supply can freeze or gel when temperatures plummet.

The good news is that the freezing point for propane is -44°F—which is well below our average low here in North Carolina, which rarely gets much below 25°F in January. Suffice it to say, you don’t need to worry about your propane freezing.

Nevertheless, extended extremely cold weather can still cause problems for the propane in your tank.

Like most substances, propane contracts in cold temperatures. If your propane tank is buried, you don’t need to worry: Temperatures need to get extremely cold for a very extended period to affect the propane in an underground tank.

It’s a different situation with an above-ground propane tank. When it’s extremely cold outside, the volume of propane inside your aboveground propane tank will shrink, and if it shrinks enough, it will result in a loss of pressure. When the pressure becomes too low, the propane inside your tank will not be able to reach your gas burner. That means you may not be able to run your propane appliances, including your furnace or boiler. In addition to no heat, you need to worry about pipes freezing.

3 Ways to Avoid Low-Pressure Problems

  1. Fill your tank. The best way to prevent pressure problems in your propane tank is to keep your tank at least 30% full. The more propane is in your tank, the more positive pressure there will be. When the forecast is predicting a stretch of low temps, check the gauge on your tank, and call us for a propane delivery. Or, sign up for our convenient automatic delivery service. We factor the weather into our deliveries, so we’ll make sure you never run low. (But, we ask that you factor in the weather too—please keep driveways plowed and sanded, and clear a path to your tank so we can deliver your fuel safely.)
  2. Keep the snow off. If snow has accumulated on your tank during a storm, brush it off. When sunlight can reach your tank, it keeps the propane inside warmer and slows contraction.
  3. Turn down the heat. It may seem counterintuitive, but another way to reduce pressure problems is to turn down your thermostat. Your propane-fueled furnace or boiler won’t run as often, so it won’t try to draw propane from the tank, allowing the pressure inside your propane tank to rebuild.

There’s a reason folks in Alamance, Caswell, Orange, Person, and Rockingham Counties in North Carolina trust Thomas Brothers for dependable propane deliveries, as well as tank installations, maintenance and more. We’ve got the knowledge, skills and resources and can answer all your questions about the benefits of propane for your home. Contact us today to learn more.