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Old 02-22-2014, 06:09 PM   #1
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Propane Flare Fittings Help

Been winter camping in Connecticut for the last couple of weeks. Problem was my propane usage was excessive compared with previous winter camping sessions. I found a sizable leak at the flared fitting where it attachs to the pilot assemby in the water heater. I accidently found this by smell. Luckily during winter camping I only use the electric element in my Atwood - Mdl GC6AA10E water heater. Turned off the propane supply at the tank, then started to look closely at the flared fitting. It wasn't tight; I removed the fitting with my fingers. Inspected the flare - looked good. I suspected the copper had cracked because the fitting may have been over torqued. Cleaned both surfaces and reconnected the flange nut to the body of the pilot assembly. Put a drop of blue locktite on the threads before tightening. I tightened the fitting once tight to two flats additional. Could not find the torque requirements for 3/8" copper tubing other than two flats. Put the system back in service and bubbled tested the fitting satisfactory.

Question: Does anyone know the torque requirements for 3/8" copper tubing flare fittings? Any help would be appreciated including source for my reference.
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Old 02-22-2014, 06:49 PM   #2
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Have no idea on torque ratings but you did it properly
I am certified the Railroad Commission of Texas for LPG filling and RV technical repairs. No where were there torque ratings. In a nutshell, it was what you did. Technically, by the RRC of TX, you need to do a leak test too, but bubbling is fine.
I think, though, you are not supposed to add anything to the threads.

And by pilot asy., you mean the gas valve?
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Old 02-22-2014, 08:07 PM   #3
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jesilvas,

Thanks for the prompt reply. The pilot assembly (tech manual term) is what I would also call the gas valve. I put just a little locktite on threads to prevent the fitting from loosening. I had previously smelled the propane tracer, but the water heater is near the sewer hose connection and thought it was sewer gas. As loose as it was, it may have been that way (loosening) for years. Bought the unit new and never had to work on the water heater so not sure how long it was not tight. When the weather is better, I plan to look at all the flared joints. Thanks for your help.
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Old 02-22-2014, 08:16 PM   #4
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I rarely see leaks from flare nuts that backed off. We PDI all new trailers obviously, but used trailers too. I think two or three times I've had flare nuts leaking, and strangely, those were all on the same trailer.
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Old 02-22-2014, 08:17 PM   #5
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TeddyU........I agree with jesilvas.......it's just the way it's done. I've made maybe a gazilllion copper/brass flare connections over the years and you did it just the way I've always done it. Except for the loctite on the threads. Properly tightened you likely didn't need the loctite but it won't hurt anything either.
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Old 02-23-2014, 06:25 AM   #6
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SO long as the nut itself does not split I do not think you can overtorque a brass flair fitting.. I've always made them "As tight as possible" and for me.. Well I break quarter inch grade 5 bolts when I do that. so you can figure out how tight it is.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:55 AM   #7
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I agree with wa8yxm
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Old 02-23-2014, 11:37 AM   #8
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With a proper flare it doesn't take a Herculean effort past snug to get a reliable seal with a properly made flare.

Personally I wouldn't use locktite on this type of joint. The way to check it "down the road" is the same as making it in the first place. Put a wrench to it then apply leak detector. Locktite would get in the way of a pepper check IMO.
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Old 02-24-2014, 07:06 AM   #9
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To All,

Thanks for the help. I agree that this should not have happened but it did. When something weird happens that shouldn't have happened one must look at the history of maintenance or installation. I'm the sole owner and I've never touched the water heater. That leaves initial construction. Maybe the heater was installed on a Friday at the factory or maybe stuff just happens. Thanks again.
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Old 02-24-2014, 07:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EngineerMike View Post
With a proper flare it doesn't take a Herculean effort past snug to get a reliable seal with a properly made flare.

Personally I wouldn't use locktite on this type of joint. The way to check it "down the road" is the same as making it in the first place. Put a wrench to it then apply leak detector. Locktite would get in the way of a pepper check IMO.
Agree ... Loctite probably won't hurt except for future tightening (a check of tightness). Not likely to be needed.
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Old 02-24-2014, 07:24 AM   #11
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It is possible to over-torque a flare nut. It is not the nut that is the issue, but the shoulder of the flare. If you crush the copper too much it will become brittle and prone to cracking. Parker and a few other mfgs do publish torque values, but in general, just tighten it enough to feel the copper crush, and then stop.
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Old 02-24-2014, 07:32 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PushedAround View Post
It is possible to over-torque a flare nut. It is not the nut that is the issue, but the shoulder of the flare. If you crush the copper too much it will become brittle and prone to cracking. Parker and a few other mfgs do publish torque values, but in general, just tighten it enough to feel the copper crush, and then stop.

That's certainly better than the "tighten until it strips, then back off 1/4 turn" theory
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:03 AM   #13
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The term "torque" does not really apply when talking about copper fittings. Torque is a measurement of the force against something, where with copper fittings threads are "mismatched" a little, supplying a joining of the two threaded surfaces.

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Old 02-25-2014, 04:44 AM   #14
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Flare fittings and compression fittings are actually made to be used with no thread sealers. Thread sealers will not let the surfaces mate up properly.

I've seen so much Teflon tape on some flare fittings that the nut wouldn't even pull the flared copper to the fitting.
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