Posted: January 22, 2024

Can Propane Freeze or Gel?

How Cold Effects Propane and How You Can Prevent Problems

propane Shippensburg, PA If you had home heated with oil in the past, you probably know that when winter temps get below 16°F, it can cause heating oil to gel, which results in problems keeping your home warm. That’s why many customers who are new to propane often ask us if the cold can affect propane in the same way when temperatures plummet.

While propane is stored as a liquid in your tank, it’s not affected by cold temperatures until it reaches -44°F—which is well below our average lows, which can be around 19°F in January in the Fingerlakes and the low 20s around Harrisburg. Suffice it to say, you don’t need to worry about your propane freezing.

Nevertheless, cold weather can still cause problems for the propane in your tank, particularly if your storage tank is above ground.

If your propane tank is buried, you don’t need to worry: Temperatures need to get extremely cold for a very extended period to affect the propane in an underground tank.

It’s a different situation with an above-ground propane tank. When it’s extremely cold outside, the volume of propane inside your aboveground propane tank will contract, 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.

3 Ways to Avoid Low Pressure Problems

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Whether you’re in southeastern Pennsylvania or the Finger Lakes region of New York, families and businesses count on Sweetwater Propane for dependable propane deliveries, as well as tank installations, maintenance and more. We’ve got the knowledge, skills and resources and can answer all your questions about the benefits of propane for your home. Contact us today to learn more.