How Do Temperature Changes Affect Propane?

Propane is one of the safest and most convenient ways to heat your home. In most cases, propane systems require little more than routine maintenance and annual fill-ups to stay working their best year-round. That being said, there are some things to consider during the winter months when temperatures drop.

Propane freezes at -44°F — temperatures that are rarely encountered in the Mid-Atlantic region. However, colder conditions do cause the volume of liquid propane to shrink, which can lower the internal pressure of a tank. Low internal pressures will affect gauge readings, making it seem like you have less fuel than you actually do. An experienced delivery technician will account for this when checking and filling your tank.

In most cases, cold weather pressure changes aren’t significant enough to affect your system’s ability to heat your home. However, in extreme cold, it is possible that heater performance will suffer and that, on rare occasions, failure will occur. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your propane tank in the cold.

Avoiding Cold Weather Propane Problems

Preventing pressure changes in a propane tank isn’t difficult, but it does require some vigilance, particularly when temperatures drop into the negatives. To avoid a problem:

  • Keep your tank full. A full tank means a greater volume of liquid petroleum, which in turn will be less susceptible to shrinkage.
  • Don’t cover up the tank. If your tank is above ground, using a tank cover — or allowing snow and ice to build up — prevents sunlight from hitting the tank and keeping it warm. As a result, the pressure loss might be more severe than if it were exposed to sunlight.

Following the above tips will not only prevent cold weather pressure problems, but they’ll also minimize wear and tear, improve efficiency and extend the life of your heating system.

Propane Delivery in Cold Weather

Keeping your system running its best is only one part of propane heating in the winter. It’s just as important that you work with a reliable delivery partner. As noted above, a good fuel delivery company will use volume correction devices to ensure proper refill amounts during the winter. More than that, a good company will plan accordingly for inclement weather, keeping their fleet well-maintained to prevent a breakdown in the ice and snow. They’ll also be proactive about keeping their clients filled up before emergency service is necessary.

As a longstanding partner to homes and businesses in Virginia, Foster Fuels is capable of delivering reliable propane service in cold weather. We have an extensive fleet that allows us to respond to customer requests quickly and reliably. We also offer convenient autofill programs that are tailored to your property and ensure you always have the right amount of propane for your cold weather needs.

Contact Foster Fuels to Learn More

If your property runs on propane, call Foster Fuels and arrange winter service before the cold weather hits. We’d be happy to set up an autofill or scheduled delivery program that keeps you warm all winter long. We can also provide seasonal maintenance and other service. Get in touch with any of our locations to learn more today.

2 thoughts on “How Do Temperature Changes Affect Propane?”

  1. Mindy Jollie says:

    That’s a really good point to keep your propane tank full which can prevent shrinkage. My friend wants to run a side business that requires a lot of propane gas, but he’s been concerned about what to do with the gas cylinders. He’ll probably have to cultivate a relationship with a disposal professional that can take care of that for him before he can really get started on his idea.

  2. Mindy Jollie says:

    That’s good to know that propane tanks are susceptible to extreme cold, but not the general cold weather you’d get in a regular winter climate. My sister has to procure a lot of propane on a regular basis for an organization she works for. She has been considering having it delivered regularly so that she doesn’t have to oversee so much of that process.

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