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Does the Weather Affect the Propane in my Propane Tank?

Written on: June 24, 2024

How Extreme Heat and Cold Impact Propane

propane Troy, NC There are a lot of benefits to using propane in your home. It’s efficient for heating spaces and water, and it delivers precision and control for cooking. And, unlike heating oil, it won’t spoil over time, or degrade or gel if exposed to extreme temperatures. That’s not to say it’s immune to severe heat or extended deep cold. Here’s what you need to know about how the weather can affect your propane.

Propane in the Heat

Propane will expand as it heats up. This is why propane storage tanks—from the small portable cylinders you use with your grill to the bigger tanks for your home are only filled to 80% capacity, ensuring there is room for expansion. In addition, all propane storage tanks have a pressure-relief valve that opens as soon as the pressure reaches a specific point.

If you hear hissing from your propane tank on a hot sunny day, it is likely the sound of pressure being slowly released, preventing your tank from rupturing. If the pressure-relief valve is open, do not try to close it. It will close automatically when the pressure returns to a safe level.

These tips can help keep your tank from getting hot—and keep the propane inside it from heating up and expanding.

Paint it light. Propane tanks are required to be painted in light-reflective colors, such as white, grey and silver. This helps them stay cool. Dark colors attract and retain heat. If you want to make it less visible, consider fencing that will allow air to circulate.

Spray it down. When weather is extremely hot, use your garden hose to spray your tank with cool water. This will help lower the pressure and temperature inside the tank.

Make space. Don’t store things around your propane tank. And be sure that no flammable materials are within 10 feet of any propane tank or your grill. That goes for twigs, leaves and brush too.

Protecting Your Propane from Cold

The good news is that the freezing point for propane is -44°F—which is well below our average low here in Chatham County, which tends to be around 10°F. Nevertheless, cold weather can still cause problems for the propane in your tank.

Just as it expands in hot conditions, propane contracts in cold temperatures. If your propane tank is buried, it is well-insulated against the effects of cold temperatures. However, if you have an above ground tank, you may need to pay attention.

When it’s extremely cold outside, the volume of propane inside your aboveground propane tank will shrink, resulting in a loss of pressure. The problem is, if 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.

Here are three ways to vaoid low-pressure problems in your propane storage tank.

Fill your tank. The best way to prevent pressure problems in your propane tank is to keep your tank at least 30% full. The more propane is in your tank, the more positive pressure there will be. When the forecast is predicting a stretch of low temps, check the gauge on your tank, and call us for a propane delivery. Or, sign up for our convenient automatic delivery service. We factor the weather into our deliveries, so we’ll make sure you never run low. (But, we ask that you factor in the weather too—please keep driveways plowed and sanded, and clear a path to your tank so we can deliver your fuel safely.)

Keep the snow off. If you notice snow accumulating on your propane tank, brush it off. When sunlight can reach your tank, it keeps the propane inside warmer and slows contraction.

Turn down the heat. 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 Questions?

The experts at Pico North Carolina are here to answer all your questions about propane. From reliable propane delivery, to equipment installation, sales, and service, we’ve got the expertise to set you up to enjoy all the benefits of propane in your home. Contact us today for more information.