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Old 11-05-2012, 07:22 AM   #1
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Propane issue

The temperature dropped down to 30F yesterday. I tried to start the furnace (suburbane) but it wouldn't fire. So I figured I had some air the lines and I would try the stove. I could get one burner lit and the flame was a nice steady blue but very low, and I couldn't light more than one burner at a time. Hot water heater also failed to start. I searched around the posts here and found one about opening the valve too fast and I tried that but it didn't help.

The gauge on the panel says 1/3 and the gauge on the tank says 1/2 full.

I waited a couple of hours and when the outside temp was around 45F everything worked as expected. Furnace, HW heater and stove all fired right up and looked good.

I know Propane doesn't like to vaporize at cold temps but +30F doesn't seem cold enough to cause this problem. At least I hope not, we have one more trip planned to WV on Thanksgiving and I bet it's < 30 up there.

Could the gauge just be bad, I have way less than 1/2 a tank it wasn't enough when it was cold ? We have only had the unit for a couple of months and I have not put any propane in it, so I don't have any sense of a 1/2 tank is possible/reasonable.

Thanks for the help

2004 Minnie Winnie 30V
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:19 AM   #2
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Regulators will freeze up on occasion due to moisture in the propane tank. There's some stuff (forget what it's called?) a good propane dealer can put in the tank to prevent that from happening again. It acts kind of like propane anti freeze. The right dealer will know exactly what you're talking about if you ask them about anti freeze for your propane tank. It generally only needs to be done one time. I've never heard of it being required more often.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:06 AM   #3
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As above or else the regulator got sticky, I had one that gave trouble on a space heater that had sat too many years without use.

Dealer told me to gently buy firmly tap it for a few minutes with the plastic handle of a screwdriver.

Worked like a champ after that.
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:41 PM   #4
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Another factor is the LPG blend. If it contains a substantial percentage of butane, the minimum vaporization temperature goes up and can be as high as 30-32 degrees. If you filled the tank in the US south, where butane is commonly added to the LPG blend (works better in hot climate and has more energy per gallon), you may have trouble starting around 35 degrees. Especially if the tank is low.

If you suspect this problem, top off the tank with a LPG blend from a norther LPG dealer. Winter blend LPG in the north will surely be just about 100% propane - no butane or other lighter gasses at all.
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Old 11-05-2012, 08:05 PM   #5
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When you last filled your Propane tank where were you?

In some of the sothern states they substitute butane for Propane, For most uses there is not a lot of difference, The diference is the boiling point.. Propane boils are around -40 your choice of scales,, Butane closer to the freezing point of water. If you have butane in your tank,, It does not vaporize properly when the weather turns cold.

Just for fun (Yes, I do research for fun) I did some research, Found this interesting web page Hydrocarbon boiling points

Above I said the boiling point of butane was "Closer to the freezing point of water"

Freezing point of water on the celulus scale is zero, Boiling point of Butane -0.5
On the scale we use here in the States, (And is used no where wlse) Water freezes at 32, butane boils at 31.

And now you have a clue.

How to fix.. Use it up and re-fill with genuine propane.
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Old 11-06-2012, 01:14 PM   #6
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Or in the near term, just put something like a magnetic block heater on the tank or point a heat lamp at it to warm it's contents a little and see if that helps.
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Old 11-06-2012, 01:24 PM   #7
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To test if it's the regulator, could I pour hot water on it ? I don't want to do something that would warm the tank too.
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:19 PM   #8
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I'm not sure I would do that, but people in a pinch have been known to remove them and bring them inside to thaw?
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Old 11-07-2012, 11:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by japple View Post
To test if it's the regulator, could I pour hot water on it ? I don't want to do something that would warm the tank too.
Bear in mind I said "warm", there's a lot of metal and a bunch of liquid involved there, even a heat lamp pointed at it will "warm" it.

All you're trying to do is get the propane mixture in the tank to reach it's boiling point. That's what makes the pressure and vapour that is the 'gas' that reaches your stove or furnace.

The difficult part for a lot of people to understand is that propane or butane boils at a temperature where water is still frozen. While propane boils at about -44 F., butane only boils at about 34F., so if you have a 'summer' blend of mostly butane in your tank it's just laying there as an inert liquid.

Until the temperature of it rises above that point, it will not boil, and it will not give you any vapour (gas).

All you need to do is raise the temperature a few degrees above that point.

There is no hazard to warming the tank to 50 or 60, if there was you'd have a big issue on a hot summer day.

You can heat the regulator till the cows come home, but if the liquid in the tank is not boiling, it might just as well be full of water.
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Old 11-08-2012, 06:59 AM   #10
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It was cold enough this morning (30f) for me to try the "tapping" recommendation, seemed to work ! Supposed to get down into the 20's soon and I will recheck it then. If that was the problem I think I will replace the regulator just to be on the safe side. Unfortunately my local propane dealer won't even fill RV tanks, never mind get the water out or help with the regulator. The only place that will fill it locally seems to be Flying J.

Thanks for all the help everyone.
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:48 PM   #11
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Question When do you fill your propane tank?

We are relatively new to MH but not to camping.
Our last MH did not appear to use a lot of propane,maybe the gauge was not working correctly.
On this MH (which is new) it appears with just a couple of trips the propane is down a third, use is the same.
After all that...WHEN do most of you fill your tanks?
When at 1/2... 1/3...1/4...when?
Thanks for your imput.
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:40 PM   #12
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how big is your tank? 27 gallons. are you going out for just the weekend? lots of variables. i've got 27 gallons. when i'm 1/2 full i watch. some dealers are $.50 gallon cheaper. but i don't make a special trip.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by japple View Post
It was cold enough this morning (30f) for me to try the "tapping" recommendation, seemed to work ! Supposed to get down into the 20's soon and I will recheck it then. If that was the problem I think I will replace the regulator just to be on the safe side. Unfortunately my local propane dealer won't even fill RV tanks, never mind get the water out or help with the regulator. The only place that will fill it locally seems to be Flying J.

Thanks for all the help everyone.
In that tapping worked to allow the regulator to regulate the gas flow you have obviously found your problem. The regulator internals have a couple of moving parts that may have just been stuck form non-use. You may never have a regulator problem again now that you've freed it up.
However, having said that, you can get the model number off the regulator body and find a replacement. The replacement is a do it yourself project with an exact replacement.
By the way..........since the late 80's all commercially available propane in the US is to a spec. called HD5.......there is no blended propane-butane anymore. So fill it in Maine or Texas or in between it's all going to b HD5 from retailers.
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Old 11-14-2012, 07:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wonderer1 View Post
how big is your tank? 27 gallons. are you going out for just the weekend? lots of variables. i've got 27 gallons. when i'm 1/2 full i watch. some dealers are $.50 gallon cheaper. but i don't make a special trip.
DH tells me 88 pounds. I'm not sure how to convert that to gallons. We go for four day weekends, weeks etc. The question is still, When do you fill'er up?
We have propane available at our storage facility and that would be where I'd fill the tank.
Just asking when would be the best time to fill up.
We are the type of people that do not want the gas tank to go below half.
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