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Can Propane Go “Bad” or Spoil?

What You Should Know About Propane Storage

propane expiration Windham, me If you’ve ever left a car with a tank full of gasoline for six months or longer, you know it doesn’t burn properly. Its chemical properties change, and it can even damage your engine. Diesel lasts a little longer, but not more than a year. And because of how they are made, ethanol and bio-based fuels begin to degrade and evaporate after only a few months.

Heating oil will last about 18 months—but if it’s not stored properly, sludge will form and start to eat away at your tank and clog your system.

Unlike those other types of fuel, propane never “goes bad.” It makes propane an extremely smart choice for all kinds of appliances and equipment in your home. This includes water heaters—which you use all the time—but also for those appliances you use sporadically, like space heaters and fireplaces. Propane is particularly smart for whole-house generators. Hopefully, you don’t need to use your generator often, but you don’t want to worry about the fuel not working in an emergency.

Additional Information on Propane Storage

While propane can’t expire, it’s important that the tank used for storage is maintained properly. That goes for large propane storage tanks as well as for the portable tanks used for grills and RVs. Tanks need to be inspected and recertified every 10 years or so, depending on the size and type of tank.

Inspections ensure that valves are working correctly and there’s no corrosion that can lead to leaks.

Can Propane Freeze?

It only takes one Southern Maine winter to know we can see some frigid temperatures. Average lows the area can run around 17 degrees in January.

While that’s plenty cold, there’s no need to worry about your propane freezing, even in an above-ground tank. Fortunately, the freezing point of propane is -306.4°F degrees Fahrenheit—not anything we’ll ever get, even in the worst of New York winters.

While it’s nearly impossible your propane will ever freeze, it can still be affected by very cold temperatures. Unlike water, propane contracts when it’s cold. When it’s extremely cold outside, the volume of propane inside your aboveground propane tank will shrink, which creates 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—which can be very problematic in the winter.

3 Ways to Avoid Low-Pressure Problems

  1. Keep your propane tank at least 30% full to maintain positive pressure. If very cold weather is in the forecast, check your propane tank gauge and call us to schedule a delivery. If you’re on automatic delivery, we’ll take the real-time weather into account and there’s no need to call.
  2. Don’t let snow build up on your propane tank. Clear it so sunlight can reach your tank and passively keep it warmer.
  3. If you use propane to heat your home, turn down your thermostat so your heating system doesn’t run as often, giving the pressure inside your propane tank a chance to rebuild.

Have more questions about versatile propane or propane safety or to set up automatic deliveries? Contact the local propane professionals at PitStop Propane and Fuels today.