As fall fades and winter creeps in, it’s vital to make sure your heating system is fully operational. Many homes use propane for a number of purposes, including running appliances, space heaters, water heaters, backup power, fireplaces and more. As you get ready for cold weather, here’s a checklist for your propane heating system:
Propane Tank Setup and Marking:
The first (and most important) way to make sure you’re ready for snow is to get your propane tank set as early as possible. The most efficient way to do this is by joining our Tank Rental program. When you join our Tank Rental program, our expert staff will help you determine what type and size of propane tank is best for your needs. We’ll also come and set the tank for you, so you just sign up and leave the details to us!
After you have your tank installed, it is important to make sure that it is properly marked so that it can be found after a snowstorm. This is essential for underground tanks, but is also important for above ground tanks, as a heavy snowstorm might render the tank virtually invisible to those doing snow removal in your area. Marking your tank is also beneficial to your fuel delivery driver, as they will be able to find and fill the tank more efficiently. Finally, if you properly mark your tank, you’ll benefit by ensuring that your tank is filled as quickly as possible, keeping your supply at optimal levels for dealing with winter snow and ice!
Call a professional:
If you already have a propane tank, you should have your propane heating system examined yearly. A qualified technician can test and check your system, highlighting any areas of concern before winter hits. It’s important to develop a schedule for annual cleaning and inspection — especially if you’re new to a home and there’s no existing schedule in place.
Check your appliances:
A qualified technician can also help check your appliances, ensuring they are in full working order and running at peak efficiency before the coldest months of the year. For example, your water heater should be set to no more than 120 degrees. You should also arrange to have your heating appliances installed before the winter months – this and other efficiency steps can help reduce your heating bill.
In addition to carbon monoxide detectors, your home should be equipped with well-charged propane detectors. While rare, propane leaks are possible. Propane is denser than air, so it will collect at the lowest possible point in the area of the leak. Place detectors accordingly.
In the depths of winter, the last thing you want to do is head out into the cold and check your propane levels. By opting into an autofill program, you don’t have to worry about how much propane is in your tank. Your provider will fill the tank before the coldest months of the year and check it regularly to top it off.
Your propane tank should never fall below 20 percent capacity. If it runs out entirely, your pilot light will extinguish, and you’ll have to arrange for a qualified technician to perform a leak check and reconnect your gas.
Consider buying a propane generator:
What will you do when bad weather hits and you’re left without power? Buy a backup generator so that you and your family are always protected. When a winter storm comes around, you’ll be secure knowing that you will always have power.
Weather Emergency Planning:
It is extremely important to make sure you know how to shut off your propane supply, especially if you have a variety of different propane appliances. In the event of an emergency, you’ll want to be able to do this as quickly as possible, so you’ll also want to make sure that the path to your shut-off is not obstructed by snow or ice. In addition to maintaining a clear path to your emergency shut-off, you’ll also want to make sure all equipment and areas of ventilation are unobstructed as well, as this will reduce the potential for them to freeze. This will also reduce the chances that inadequate ventilation will trap carbon monoxide in your home, so you’ll be able to keep your home safe both outside and inside.
In the spirit of being proactive, the best way to cover all of your bases is to create a weather emergency plan and review it with your family. This would include instructions on how to turn off any propane appliances, where any important valves or controls are located, and any other courses of action in the event of a weather emergency. Write down all of these items and keep them in a safe place for easy reference when they are most needed.
Stay ahead of the weather:
Extreme winter weather can create a problem for propane customers. Homeowners must increase the amount of propane they use, and harsh conditions can limit the transportation and shipping of propane — increased demand with reduced supply. That’s why it’s so vital to get on an autofill program that keeps you fully stocked even when winter weather strikes. If you choose not to use an autofill program, stay on top of forecasts and check or fill your propane accordingly.
The price of propane ebbs and flows with supply and demand, just like with any other fuel. You’ll typically find the best prices in the middle of summer, well before the use of propane spikes. Fill your propane tank in June or July to ensure you miss the price increases of September and October.
Manage your account online:
Just as autofill ensures you never have to worry about your propane level, autopay ensures you never experience a service slowdown for nonpayment. Autofill your tank and autopay your bill, and then sit back to enjoy winter’s beauty from the warm comfort of your propane-heated home.
Family-owned for 94 years, Foster Fuels can be your local source for expert guidance as you get ready for the coldest months of the year. We provide full propane services, and we can partner with you to ensure you and your family stay safe and comfortable this winter.