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Can Propane Spoil or Go “Bad”?

What to Know About Propane Storage

propane expiration virginiaIf you leave a car with a tank full of gas, after about six months’ time, its chemical properties change, and it won’t burn properly. Diesel fuel, in the same instance, lasts no more than a year. Ethanol and bio-based fuels begin to degrade and evaporate after only a few months. Heating oil will last about 18 months—just long enough that a few gallons left over from the previous winter will still burn.

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

About Propane Storage

While propane can’t expire, it’s important that the tank used for storage is maintained properly. That goes for large 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 trouble such as leaks.

Can Propane Freeze?

If you’ve lived in Southern Virginia for some time, you know winters can serve up some frigid temperatures. Average lows the area can run around 24 degrees in January.

People often ask us if they need to worry about their propane freezing, particularly in an above-ground tank. Fortunately, the freezing point of propane is -44 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s a minimal chance you need to worry about your propane freezing.

While it’s unlikely your propane will freeze, it can still be affected by very cold temperatures. 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 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 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 Midway today. We’ll be happy to help.