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Does the Cold Affect the Quality of My Propane?

3 Effects of Deep Cold & 3 Ways to Prevent Problems


Most people in our area are familiar with the gelling problems that extended periods of extreme cold can produce in heating oil. If you use propane to heat your home and your water, you don’t need to worry about gelling. Your propane won’t deteriorate in any way, even in an aboveground propane tank. (Propane has an unlimited shelf life.) However, frigid weather can present issues. Here’s what to keep in mind about propane and very cold weather.

1. You Will Use More.

When temperatures fall, and you use propane to heat your home, you’re more likely to use more propane. Even if you don’t raise your thermostat, your heating system needs to work harder to maintain your normal temperature—which means you’ll use more propane. If you crank up the heat, you’ll use even more. (Of course, the same is true with heating oil.) In addition, you may be cooking more. Nothing makes your home feel cozier than having a big pot of stew or chili simmering on the stove, or a batch of cookies in the oven. You might also take hotter or longer showers on those extra chilly mornings.

2. Propane Contracts in the Cold.

Like most gasses, 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.

However, if you have an aboveground tank, cold temps can make the volume of propane in your tank smaller—creating the illusion that you have less propane than you actually do. If you’re a will-call customer, it’s important to remember how cold can affect the reading on your gauge. The good news is that the reduced volume doesn’t affect the actual amount of propane—or the amount of energy it will produce. But, if your tank seems unexpectedly low, and it’s been very cold, feel free to give us a call: We can check your delivery records to help determine if you need a delivery or if your low tank reading might be caused by low temperatures.

3. You May Lose Pressure.

The biggest problem is that when propane contracts due to cold, is that it can lead to a loss of pressure in the lines from your tank to your equipment. 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. If an underground tank isn’t an option, insulating your tank or using a propane tank heater during extremely cold weather can help prevent pressure problems.

Preventing Pressure Problems 3 Ways

  1. An easy way to make sure your tank pressure stays consistent through the winter is to keep your propane tank filled to at least 30% throughout the heating season. When you opt for our convenient automatic delivery service, we will make sure your deliveries are timed to ensure your tank level never gets too low.
  2. Be sure to clear any snow or ice that accumulates on your tank. Sunshine on your tank is enough to warm up the propane in your tank and minimize the propane contraction that can lead to pressure problems in your lines.
  3. 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.

Have more Propane Questions?

There’s a reason folks in Lamoille and Franklin counties trust Corse Fuels 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.