As you get ready for the upcoming winter in your RV, you want to prepare for every possible mishap. Propane is used for very vital things such as cooking and heating. So, you would not want it to stop working suddenly. Thus, you find yourself wondering, can propane lines freeze? How about propane regulators?
Put simply, yes. Propane lines and regulators can freeze up during winter. But not why you might assume. There is in fact more to worry about than just freezing during winter times. But whatever the cause might be most of them are easily avoidable or at least fixable.
There are a lot more details to discuss regarding the use of propane in the winter in an RV. In this article, I will explain to you the reasons why you might face cold-related malfunctions in your propane lines and regulators. Then we will discuss what we can do to prevent that from happening.
Can Propane Itself Freeze?
You might find yourself wondering can propane itself be frozen solid if it gets too cold outside? The answer to that question is no that cannot happen under natural circumstances found on the face of the earth. So, at what temperature does propane freeze? What temperature is too cold for propane?
Propane has a boiling point of -42 °C and its melting point is at the extremely low temperature of -162° C. Which means it only starts to become liquefied when the temperature starts dropping below -42 °C and only freezes to a solid below -162° C.
It is impossible that you will find that low of a temperature anywhere on the face of the earth in a natural environment. The propane-related problems you face in an RV are caused because of entirely different factors. Propane itself cannot freeze.
What Problems Might You Face Regarding Propane in Winter? Possible Fixes
As propane does not freeze, any problems you face in your winter RV propane setup will originate from other faults. These faults include a lack of pressure, overfilling, moisture, etc.
For example, your propane tank’s pressure would drop, your regulators or lines could be faulty, you might have overfilled your tank, your tank could have moisture buildup, etc.
Here I will try to put down a list of propane related problems that you might face in an RV during the wintertime, and try to explain ways to prevent and solve those issues.
Propane Flow Stopping Due to Lack of Pressure
Although it won’t freeze, it can stop flowing due to heat. As any matter gets cold, it contracts. Propane also shrinks when it gets cold. When there is a low amount of propane in the tank and it contracts due to cold, the pressure in the tank drops. And when there is not enough pressure in the tank the propane cannot flow.
Getting the pressure back up is the obvious solution to this problem. When camping in cold weather it is not a good idea to let your tank go below 10% or be filled over 80%, as both of those situations could cause pressure-related problems. Try to make sure your propane tank is filled within this threshold when you camp in cold weather.
In severe situations, you might end up having to heat up your propane tank to get the pressure back up. Applying heat to a propane tank can be very dangerous though. So, it is advised to use something like an electric heating blanket to do so. Anything that can cause fire or combustion is to be avoided at all costs.
Regulator Freezing Due to Overfilling
On the other hand, when you overfill your propane tank during winter that can cause the regulator to freeze up. When the propane tank is overfilled, liquid propane overflows and gets shot directly into the regulator. When propane turns into gas from liquid, it sucks in a huge amount of heat. When that happens inside the regulator, it freezes up.
To prevent this from happening avoid overfilling your tank. As I have mentioned earlier, filling it over 80% during winter is not something you should do both to prevent overfilling and the reason mentioned earlier. If by any chance you do make the mistake of overfilling you will need to get rid of a bit of propane beforehand so that is not overfilled anymore.
If your regulator does end up frozen, you need to turn off your propane tank and let the regulator thaw. After that, you need to open the propane tank slowly, a little bit at a time until the tank is free enough so the liquid does not overflow to the regulator. When the tank is free enough you will hopefully not face this problem furthermore.
Freeze Up Due to Moisture Buildup
Another very common issue that causes propane lines and regulators to freeze is moisture buildup. Even though liquid propane will not freeze, water most definitely will. Water from the moisture buildup can freeze very easily and cause a blockage. If your regulator is old it can sometimes start letting in moisture and that moisture can freeze.
You will need to keep your regulators in check and replace it when it becomes too faulty. A faulty propane regulator can cause other problems as well so it is a good idea to check up and replace your regulator when they become too old.
To get rid of moisture and water from your propane tank you will first have to take the valve out of the cylinder and then drain the water through the remaining hole. You can add a bit of anhydrous methanol to make sure you get rid of it all. This chemical compound will absorb the moisture and remove it from your tank and prevent it from freezing up.
Propane Mixture Is Not Appropriate for Cold Weather
Finally, another reason you might face cold-related problems with propane is that your propane mixture is not appropriate for usage in cold weather. Propane suppliers in cold areas have cold weather friendly propane mixture available. Make sure you choose those mixtures when you are camping in the winter.
Propane mixtures made for cold weather are not prone to pressure drops as regular ones are. Getting pressure back again in your propane tank can be a huge hassle as usually, you would need to heat it up to do so. And most commonly used heating methods are either dangerous or damaging to your equipment.
The propane mixtures appropriate for cold weather are made to be more resistant to contraction due to cold so the pressure doesn’t drop very easily. Getting appropriate propane mixtures will help you a lot in camping in the winter.
These are some of the most common propane related problems in winter. As you can see these are easily avoidable or fixable. So, you need not worry about a little cold becoming an obstacle for your life on the road.
RVing in the winter can be a difficult thing to manage. Some areas can really become too harsh for camping and you really need to be cautious about all your equipment, but especially your propane setup that is vital for your cooking and heating. Always do routine checkups on your equipment before trips to make sure that everything works properly.
Thank you for reading till the end. I hope I was able to answer your question of “Can propane lines freeze?” and any other questions that come along with it. I wish you good luck and hope that what I have discussed here has helped you in your endeavors.