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Does Propane Go Bad?

Discover why propane is the most stable fuel

propane warwick, ny Have you ever wondered if the propane that powers your indoor or outdoor appliances can somehow “go bad” after a longer period of time or when exposed to certain conditions?

It’s a smart question to ask, considering how so many products in life have expiration dates or are vulnerable to changes in the face of extreme temperatures. Our experts at A.C. Howell are here to provide you with peace of mind AND some tips on how to keep your propane appliances in safe working condition in all kinds of weather.

What happens when fuels sit over time?

Did you know that heating oil, gasoline, diesel and kerosene fuel can all degrade over time? Just as you have to change the motor oil in your car periodically so that it doesn’t damage your engine, you need to be aware of the impact that degraded fuels can have on the machinery they power.

You might be surprised to learn that gasoline sitting in a parked car’s tank will start to break down after about six months. The same is true of diesel fuel after about a year. And other fuels such as ethanol or bio-based fuels can lose their potency after just a few months. If the heating oil that warms your home degrades too much, it can lower efficiency and even cause equipment to malfunction.

But none of this is true for propane!

Because propane doesn’t decay and keeps its integrity as long as it’s properly stored in a secured, airtight container, there’s virtually no degradation over time. Even if you have a propane tank cylinder sitting around unused for many months, it will usually be ready to fire up when you are without any loss of efficiency.

This superior stability makes propane the ideal choice for boilers, furnaces, regular or tankless water heaters, clothes dryers, space heaters and fireplaces. It’s also perfect for use with a whole-home standby generator because it won’t leave you stuck in the middle of a power outage because of fuel degradation.

Can propane freeze in extremely cold weather?

Even when we’re having a true cold spell in Orange County, propane is stable in lower temperatures, so you don’t have to worry about it freezing. That said, propane DOES contract in the cold like most liquids, causing a potential loss of pressure. This means that if the pressure goes too low, the propane won’t be able to reach the gas burner to fire up.

For buried propane tanks, you likely won’t have any worries as the temperature would need to be very low for a long period of time to affect an underground tank’s propane. But for an aboveground tank, it could be a factor. If extreme cold causes system failure from the pressure in your aboveground propane tank dropping too low, you could find yourself without heat and at risk of your pipes freezing.

How to avoid low pressure in your propane tank

1. Keep your propane tank level at or above 30%. The more propane that’s in your tank, the higher the pressure will be. That’s why during the winter you’ll want to keep a ready eye on your tank’s fuel gauge, especially when we have extended periods of really cold weather. Or better yet, just register for our automatic delivery service with optional 24/7 remote propane tank monitoring — a convenient way to make sure you never have to worry about low pressure or runouts!

2. Clear snow and ice off your tank as soon as possible. This helps clear all flues and vents so combustion gases can exhaust properly. Plus it lets sunlight warm your tank and increase pressure naturally.

3. Turn down your thermostat a bit. While you’ll understandably want your heat on at the right levels during the cold, it can help to lower the temperature temporarily when low pressure is a risk. Because your propane heating system will run less, that will give more time for the pressure in your propane tank to build back up.

Get started with automatic propane delivery today!

From Warwick to Newburgh to Port Jervis and beyond, communities throughout the region turn to our experienced, family-run company for reliable, safe, automatic propane delivery services. You can count on us to keep your tank filled and provide 24/7 emergency service in all kinds of weather. Contact us today and get the peace of mind you need!