Sure, you’ve taken great care and consideration in designing and building your tiny home, but have you really considered everything? Truth is, up here in Canada and even down into the northeast United States, it gets damn cold! Many people don’t know this but, if it gets cold enough, your propane will not vaporize which means it will not work properly to run appliances which are essential to keep you warm.
Propane has a boiling point of -44F and as a result, if the temperature drops below -40ish F/C, it will not vaporize and your tank will freeze! Now if the temperature does not get that cold, but still drops well into the minus temperatures, the propane volume still shrinks, which in turn decreases the pressure in the tank which may still cause problems. Here are a few tips to care for your tank in cold weather:
- If you worry about using heat tape on the tank itself, try to heat the space the tank is in somehow. This is probably the safest and best option.
- Try to keep the tank full. Sure, you may have to fill it more often or have a couple spares around to swap out, but it beats not having any heat at all!
- If you don’t want the hassle of trying to keep the tank full, use a safe heat source to keep the tank warm. The best heat source is heat tape. Wrap your tank with heat tape and even add a blanket over top of that to keep it warm. Heated propane blankets are good, but only heat the tank itself. You need to also keep the valve and regulator warm.
Water Line Care
It doesn’t take much for a water line to freeze and burst. In fact, if you even keep a kitchen window open in the cold, the water in your faucet and lines could freeze. Here are a few tips to protect your water lines:
- Just like caring for your propane tanks, try to have your water lines in a warm area if possible. Run the lines inside the outter shell of the house if possible.
- Protect lines from freezing by using the proper insulation or heat tape.
- If you have a hose connecting from a water source to a connection on the outside, there are heated water hoses available, but be careful. The heat source in the hose doesn’t run all the way to the ends of the hose so make sure to insulate or heat tape the ends.
- Another option is to keep the water moving. Not continuously obviously, but every once in a while, open the furthest faucet from the water source and let run for a few seconds.
- Remember your gray water lines too!
Storage Tank Care
Most fresh water, gray water and sewage storage tanks are outside the heated shell of a tiny home so taking extra care to make sure they don’t get damaged is also important. There are two things you can do:
- Use round tanks rather than square/rectangle. Round tanks have a smaller surface area for the same volume, causing less heat loss.
- Insulate the outside of the tanks. While this may be effective, it is still not 100% guaranteed to keep them from freezing and cracking.
- heat tape or heating elements inside the tank are probably your best options here.
Got more tips or comments to help keep the Tiny Home community warm? Drop them below!