Winterizing Your Propane Powered Home In Oregon- Tips For Making Sure You Stay Warm All Winter

A grey-haired white man holds up his hands in exasperation as he sits outside of a large propane tank outside in the snow.
The winter season is upon us. This means that it’s almost time to crank up the heat! With all of the snow that will soon be falling, my wife and I are already getting ready for stoking the firebox by storing up some fuel for the winter ahead. As I blog about preparing my propane-powered home for winter, my hope is to provide awesome tips to my fellow propane consumers.
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    How to Winterize A Propane Furnace


    Winter is the coldest time of the year and brings with it some unique home heating challenges. Some folks don't like to think about their propane furnace until it's the middle of January and they're having issues getting their home warm (or even thinking about turning down the heat). With that said, winterizing your propane furnace should be a routine part of maintaining your home.

     
    TIP! Strong winds can blow out piolet lights of propane furnace and water heaters. If there have been particularly strong winds and you notice your water isn't heating, check the piolet light!
     
    Step 1: Turn off your propane at the source. This is usually done at the propane tank itself. If you have an above ground tank, there is a shutoff valve on top of the propane tank. Turn it clockwise to turn off the propane. If you have an underground propane tank, the process is similar.
     
     
    Step 2: Turn off the valve inside, at the furnace. If there is an emergency off switch, turn this off as well.
     
    Step 3: Inspect and replace the filter. Your propane furnace has an air filter that it uses to intake air when heating your home. It's good practice to replace this filter at least evey year. They aren't expensive and can be found at most HVAC suppliers. Contact your propane furnace manufacturer for information on what filter you need.
     
    Step 4: Turn back on the propane furnace valve and propane tank shutoff valve.
     
    Step 5: Relight the piolet light.
     

    How To Winterize a Propane Fireplace


    Preparing your propane fireplace for winter use is an easy process. It simply involves cleaning the vent of debris and cobwebs, and dusting off the ceramic logs. Check the glass door to your fireplace to make sure it doesn't have any cracks. Then light your piolet light and you're good to go!

    If you have an outdoor propane fireplace, that requires a little more end-of-season cleaning. Use a water and soap mix to clean off the burner. Clear out any leaves, sticks or trash that made its way into the fire pit. Inspect the outdoor propane fireplace for cracks. Finally, cover it all up with a tarp (especially if snow is in the forecast).

    Avoiding Common Propane Tank Problems During Winter


    If you're worried about your propane freezing, I can reassure you right now that's not going to happen. Propane is a liquid gas. It only freezes at temperatures below -44 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a type of cold that the winters in Oregon have never seen.
     
    Well, that's only partly true. The record low temperature in Oregon was recorded in Seneca in 1933. It was -54 degrees one day that winter. But we have not gotten close to that in the last century.
     
    That being said, there are a few things you should still do in order to ensure you have heat all winter long.
    1. When it snows, clear a path to your propane tank so you can easily check on it in case of emergency. Ensure you can always see the tank and it does not get buried in snow.

    2. Check valves for signs of wear and tear. Chances are you have not been using much propane during the summer. Now is a good time to inspect your tank to make sure its in good condition. If it is rusting, that is an indication a leak may develop. Call you propane provider to give an official tank inspection.

    3. Ensure you always have enough. Always keep your propane tank above at least 20%. Ideally, propane levels shouldn't go below half a tank. This is in case of a winter emergency when propane trucks may not be able to make it to your home for deliveries. You can do this by either manually checking it, or signing up for automatic delivery with your provider.

    All time recrord low temperatures in Oregon. Source: https://www.plantmaps.com/oregon-record-high-and-low-temperature-map.php
    All time recrord low temperatures in Oregon. Source: https://www.plantmaps.com/oregon-record-high-and-low-temperature-map.php

    Managing Propane Heating Costs


    The cost of heating a home with propane varies from winter to winter, due to outdoor temperatures. It also varies because the price of propane fluctuates every year because of supply changes. Furthermore, the average price is not an accurate reflection of many people's lifestyles, because a single person home is going to consume much less propane than a 5 person family.

    Expect to pay between $57-$150 a month for propane in the winter. If you are racking up a huge propane bill, there are things you can do to reduce your usage, such as turning the thermostat off at night, turning it down a few degrees during the day, or investing in more efficient equipment.

    Getting a more efficient propane furnace or propane water heater has a high upfront cost, but can end up paying for itself over the years you use it because of the savings you will get from not needing to buy as much propane.

    Takeaway: Tips On How To Prepare Your Home Propane Appliances For Winter

     

    • Winterize your propane furnace and propane water heater

    • Inspect your propane tank to avoid common propane tank problems during winter
    • Clean and prepare your indoor or outdoor propane fireplace.
    • Keep an eye on your bill and lower the thermostat just a bit if you want some savings.
     

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