Propane is one of the safest forms of energy for your home or business. According to John McCormack, Superior Propane’s National Technical Specialist, “In extremely cold conditions, especially nearing -40 C, there may not be enough vapour pressure in your tank to keep your appliance working properly. Some people believe the propane in their tank has “gelled”, but what is really happening is that the liquid propane isn’t boiling as vigorously as it does at higher temperatures, so there isn’t enough vapour being produced to feed your appliance”.
He goes on to say, “The colder it is outside, the lower the pressure will be in your tank; conversely, the higher the temperature, the higher the pressure.” Mr. McCormack recommends there are several steps you can take to avoid pressure problems during cold weather extremes:
Keep your tank full and have your propane appliances checked annually and repaired as needed.
Never attempt to cover up your tank. This will merely insulate the propane inside the tank from the natural heat of the daytime sun, potentially worsening the problem.
For the same reason, do not allow snow to build up on your tank.
Turning your thermostat down will lessen the time your appliance operates, permitting the pressure in the tank to build. Turning your thermostat up will worsen the problem.
Keep the regulator at the building free of ice and snow, and never pour water over it.
Never use an open flame or electrical device in the vicinity of a propane tank. Accidents involving “heating” a tank to boost pressure are not uncommon.
Carbon monoxide: The silent killer
Carbon monoxide, commonly known as CO, is a colourless, odourless and tasteless toxic gas. When inhaled, CO interferes with the blood’s ability to absorb and transport oxygen; thus, it can be deadly. Most Ontario households have an average of 4 to 6 appliances that have the potential to produce carbon monoxide.
Propane appliances, like all other fuel-burning appliances, can present the risk of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning if not installed, operated, vented or maintained properly. Even a small amount of CO is dangerous in enclosed spaces like your home, garage, vehicle, cottage, boat, recreational vehicle or tent. It is a by-product of incomplete combustion that can be produced by any carbon-based fuel when there is a lack of oxygen.
Exposure to carbon monoxide causes flu-like symptoms such as:
Tightness across the forehead and temples
Loss of muscular control
Watering and smarting of the eyes
Shortness of breath
Loss of consciousness
Mr. McCormack further advises,” In severe cases, CO poisoning can cause brain damage and death. Some people can be particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide and may feel the effects sooner.” Be aware of these environmental signs:
Abnormal odour when your furnace or other fuel-burning appliances turn on.
The air feels stale or stuffy.
Abnormal moisture forming on windows and walls.
Soot on any equipment or a yellow flame at the burner tip of a propane appliance indicates that the gas may not be burning completely, which may cause carbon monoxide.
What to do if you suspect CO poisoning
“It’s imperative to act fast if you suspect carbon monoxide is present indoors. Leave the building immediately, call 911, and seek medical help”, says Mr. McCormack.
About Superior Propane
Superior Propane is Canada’s only national provider of portable fuels, equipment and service delivered locally to customers in more communities than any other propane company. In business since 1951, Superior’s headquarters are located in Calgary AB and is part of the Energy Service division of Superior Plus LP. Superior Propane employs more than 1,400 Canadians and delivers over 1.2 billion litres of propane annually.