Do I Have to Worry About My Propane Freezing?

outdoor propane tank

Homeowners are sometimes worried about using propane, particularly during the colder seasons, over concerns that it may freeze at low temperatures. But are their concerns justified? Does propane freeze? Fortunately, there’s plenty that you can do to avoid such a situation. Storing propane at home for heating purposes is ideal since it is a cleaner fuel that releases less carbon monoxide when burned compared to many other energy alternatives. It is due to this reason that propane is a strong option for those with homes in the sticks or those that live in areas where energy supplies are not readily accessible. Here, we will address any concerns over propane freezing in cold weather, what you should be aware of, as well as the right steps to take.

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Should I Worry About My Propane Freezing?

The reality is that propane rarely freezes. That’s why we hardly ever hear from our customers about an issue of this kind. Still, that doesn’t automatically mean that their supply of propane is not affected by tough winter seasons or cold spells.

It is actually cold weather as opposed to freezing propane that’s more the issue. It can create a type of knock-on effect that’s mostly unexpected by homeowners.

At What Point Does Propane Actually Freeze?

image of a thermometer in snow depicting does propane freeze

People often focus on propane’s freezing point since they hear more about this than they do anything else. Propane has a freezing point of minus 187.7°C or minus 306.4°F. It remains constant at this level no matter how or where it is stored too.

Propane usually converts to a solid fuel state at its freezing point, and it is this reason why people are so concerned about it. If it freezes, propane will not flow from a propane tank through to your home, backup generator, or propane grill. Then you are stuck.

Still, this is not a problem for homeowners. However, propane’s boiling point might be, and this is where people sometimes lose the plot slightly.

Propane’s Boiling Point is What Matters and Not Its Freezing Point

The boiling point of propane is measured at minus 42°C or minus 43.6°F. Again, it does not vary from either of these two measurements based on storage conditions or location. You don’t want your propane storage tank, along with the propane within it to fall to these low temperatures.

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What Is the Relevance of Propane’s Boiling Point?

The propane boiling point is where propane cannot vaporize. Propane users require the vaporization process since it allows the fuel to burn and provides a heat source. This ensures that the supply of propane reaches the heating system and the generator is able to fire up if needed, and the swimming pool is not chilly when taking a morning dip.


The Propane Tank Pressure Is Also Important

To allow them to function properly, propane storage tanks maintain internal pressure. As the outside temperatures drop, so does the temperature of the propane within the tank. It also makes it contract, and it now takes up less space. When this happens, a vacuum of space is created inside the tank, and the pressure (PSI) drops.

A PSI of 100 to 200 is okay, but anything above this is a bit high. If the PSI is below 100, the propane will start having difficulties staying in liquid form. The risk here is that it will start solidifying as the propane tank pressure and temperature both drop. In solid form, propane cannot travel down the lines to the stove, heater, or other connected equipment and appliances to keep them operational.

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Steps to Protect Your Supply of Propane

The steps below discuss some of the steps you should take to protect your outdoor home propane tanks.

Step 1: Keep the Propane Tank Topped Up

If your home propane tank is 70 percent empty, it will struggle to maintain a sufficiently high PSI to keep the propane in liquid form.

A sudden drop in temperature that can easily happen when your supply of propane is already low can quickly lead to a PSI drop. This can result in a disrupted propane supply to the connected heating systems, generators, cooking appliances, etc.

If you get regular or automatic propane deliveries from a reliable propane supplier, your propane storage tank will never run too low.


Step 2: Remove Water & Snow from the Exterior of the Tank

Storage tanks can suffer from precipitation, moisture in the air, or freezing temperatures that lead to the formation of ice. Tanks can then experience a temperature drop, especially if the snow on their surface melts but later reforms as ice sheets or sleet. Any valves and regulators are also at risk in cold temperatures.

So, make it a daily habit, especially during the cold seasons, to remove any layers of snow and water from or near your propane tank. The justification for doing so is that if water and snow are not present, the tank and propane within it cannot freeze over.

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Step 3: Cover the Propane Tank

To keep your propane tank warmer, you should consider using a non-electric storage tank cover. You may also use an insulated blanket, but this will depend on the size of your tank. Either of these options can prevent ice from forming. However, avoid using a heated cover or blanket since it would be unsafe.

Step 4: Close the Propane Tank Valve When Not in Use

If you leave the propane tank valve in the open position, it can easily freeze up. It can also allow the freezing lines to lower the internal temperature of the tank. Closing the valve when the propane is not in use helps prevent numerous cold weather-related issues. However, most homes tend to use their propane fuel and tank year-round.


Final Thoughts

The vast majority of propane tanks will likely never suffer from freezing, but stored propane could be adversely affected in extreme weather.

To ensure that this doesn’t happen, preventative measures such as not letting the tank run low, maintaining adequate pressure inside the tank, covering it as a form of insulation, and clearing any ice, water, or snow from the surface of the tank are your best options.

Lastly, when the propane tank is not in use, it is always advisable to close the valve. This ensures that lower temperatures don’t reach the tank, and it helps maintain adequate pressure so that the propane doesn’t solidify.

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