Can a Propane Tank Freeze?

If you rely on propane to keep your home warm and comfortable, you need to know your tank will continue to deliver the service you require of it all winter long. While most homeowners know the importance of regular preventative maintenance for a propane furnace, the tank itself is often overlooked. This can lead to increased risk of failure during the coldest months when your propane tank — and your family — are most vulnerable.

When Does Propane Gas Freeze?

The freezing point of propane is -44˚F. While it’s highly unlikely that temperatures in Virginia will dip this low, your main concern during the winter months isn’t the outside temperature or the wind-chill — it’s the absence of vapor pressure in your tank.

Like all liquids, propane expands when hot and contracts in the cold. This means when the temperature drops, the volume of liquid propane in your tank shrinks along with it. This causes a loss of pressure. Without adequate pressure, propane can’t be fed into your burner, which means poorer performance and, in some cases, a loss of heat altogether.

Preventing Propane Tank Failure in Freezing Water

The single best thing you can do to protect your propane tank in freezing temperatures is to keep it full. A full tank ensures enough vapor pressure is being produced for your system to continue operating normally. A full tank also reduces the risk of condensation buildup, which can contaminate liquid propane.
Other things you can do to protect your propane tank from the cold include:

  • Keeping it free of snow. Snow buildup can prevent sunlight from warming your tank and potentially make the problem worse. For this reason, it’s also best to avoid the use of both commercial and homemade heating blankets.
  • Turning your thermostat down. It may seem counterintuitive, but if your furnace is constantly running at capacity, there will be less time for pressure to build up in your propane tank, and performance will suffer.

Simply being mindful of your propane tank when temperatures drop is the best way to avoid a problem. Foster Fuels can help you put together a refueling schedule based on your home’s propane use that will keep your tank topped up at all times. To learn more, contact us today.

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