If you’re one of the millions of Americans using propane at home, on the farm or in your work environment, you probably already know some of the reasons that make it such a valuable fuel. It’s safe with a very low ignition point, cannot be ingested, its non-toxic, environmentally friendly, clean burning, less costly and very versatile in its applications.
You’ve finally managed to stock up on your supply and the winter season seems to be dragging out. How do you prevent your propane tank from freezing?
Maintaining Pressure is Key
Pressure in a propane tank is maximized by fluid level and temperature. There are a few situations that can cause your propane tank to freeze:
- When the tank is low or not full and it’s cold outside, and the pressure drops
- Temperatures below -44°F, the boiling point of propane, means it cannot vaporize, making the product unusable
- If your tank is drawing more pressure than it is designed for, or drawing too much pressure in a short period of time.
Safe Heating Methods
In addition to keeping your propane tank full, there are a couple of safe heating methods to maintain the tank pressure and keep it from freezing. If the tank is operating properly, fuel use will be more efficient.
Insulated Heating Blanket – simply plug it in and it allows you to control temperature and pressure safely and easily.
Gas Cylinder Heaters – provide a uniform barrier of heat across the entire cylinder.
Heating Practices Not Recommended
It is important to be aware of more conventional methods that have been used, but are quite dangerous and not recommended. While propane is much safer than some other fuel sources, it is still flammable and should never be exposed to open flames or an uncontrolled heating source.
- Hot water
- Tank submerged in water with boiler underneath it
- Blow torches
- Space heater
With your tank operational, there are a few other tips for good winter maintenance that will keep your family and your business safe and warm through the cold winter months.
Winter Tank Maintenance Tips
- Mark the location of your propane tank with a flag or stake that will be visible above the snow.
- Clear the snow from off or around the tank with something soft, such as a broom. Avoid using anything made of hard metal or plastic such as a shovel.
- Do not use a snow blower near the meter.
- Keep valves, piping and the meter clear of snow.
- Check regulator vents to be sure they are not clogged.
- Clear snow and ice from all outdoor vents, chimneys and flues.