Propane questions

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paulskirocks
paulskirocks Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭✭
Our cabin has two propane tanks, about 4' tall, each has a regulator and rubber hose leaving the regulator to a two-tank valve, which then goes to 1/2 inch galvanized gas pipe... The tanks are well over 20 years old, and the regulators close to 20 years old... I want to replace everything to the 1/2 gas pipe...

So, the old valve connections to the regulators are old school style, and leaking... So, I was thinking that I would like just one regulator, and take the output of the two-way valve straight into the regulator... These days, I notice that portable propane tanks have the new, quick connect valve... Is this how they all are? The one house I return to is near a propane dealer, so getting the tanks filled isn't an issue...

So, school me on this... Suggestions are welcome...

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  • SCharles
    SCharles Solar Expert Posts: 123 ✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    I am not a gas professional, just a home user of propane. Two things from your post: I have always been told, by gas delivery drivers and at a couple of wholesale gas supply stores [selling regulators and valves and etc.] that galvanized steel pipe is a no-no for propane. That black pipe is the way to go. I do not know for sure, just what I've been told over the years, but while you are re-plumbing your system, might wanna check that out.

    The other thing, told me last year by a wholesale parts dealer who for some reason let me buy some stuff, like knew regulators, is that it's not acceptable to plumb two tanks/bottles/etc. to a "manifold" or multiway valve such as yours unless each source has a separate regulator. Again, I do not know whether this is the case or whether it is a local code thing. Someone who is better versed in these things might chime in. In my case, the tank is located about 120 ft. from my house. I had to put a regulator at the tank and another one up at the house in case the regulator at the tank went out. Perhaps overkill. But the delivery-truck driver would not fill my tank unless I did it that way. I asked about it at the wholesale place and was told it was not strictly necessary but was highly advised.
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    Yes; for propane you want to use either black iron pipe, copper (flare fittings only - absolutely no compression fittings), or flexible line made specifically for gas.

    If you have the "two tank" set up each tank has its own regulator. However, there are regulators with two hoses for going to two separate tanks. Kind of "six of one, half-dozen of the other" except the single regulator system is cheaper. You also have to check local codes for applicability.

    I have one of the "two to one" regulator units. If I could get to the place now I'd take a picture of it, but it's quite a long drive. I have a pic of the back of the cabin but you only see the tanks; no detail. Mine looks like this: http://www.rvpartsnation.com/product/10322/lp-regulator-254-00p-cd-1
    There are others of course.

    The quick connect valve is an abomination in my opinion (and in that of my propane supplier). It's right-hand thread and meant for idiots with BBQ's who can't figure out how to turn a wrench the other way. Normally all flammable gases are in tanks with left-hand thread to prevent mix-ups.

    Find a local propane equipment supplier and have a browse. Hopefully they have someone who knows his stuff and can advise too. Definitely ditch the old and leaky!
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    I'll write. More later, but galvanized pipe should NEVER be used in gas service!
    A simple two tank automatic change over regulator is the way to go.


    Tony
  • paulskirocks
    paulskirocks Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    Let me clarify: The gas pipe is the green coated stuff that was considered legitimate gas pipe 20 years ago, and mixed with the black pipe... I just assumed the galvi part... Thanks for the replies...
  • SCharles
    SCharles Solar Expert Posts: 123 ✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    The green-coated pipe...you are ok. If I remember, the green-coated is recommended for burial in the ground and the coating is to protect the pipe.
  • paulskirocks
    paulskirocks Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions
    SCharles wrote: »
    The green-coated pipe...you are ok. If I remember, the green-coated is recommended for burial in the ground and the coating is to protect the pipe.

    Yep, the green stuff is buried... I know, because I was the one who originally installed it... :) Purchased at Home Depot...
  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,474 admin
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    Re: Propane questions

    Don't know about propane--But copper pipe is a no-no these days with natural gas which does contain some sulfur. Enough to eventually cause copper tubing to fail.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Volvo Farmer
    Volvo Farmer Solar Expert Posts: 209 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    I'm pretty sure copper is OK for propane. My stub lines off the tank are copper and were installed by the propane delivery company.
  • westbranch
    westbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    Copper pipe is what you want for above ground, or if needed the correct 'rubber' hose, available at a propane/NG service dealer.
    Flare fittings only, you will need the right tools... and seat them as hard as you can.
    you will probably find that those '100#' tanks need the valves replaced, it is a 10 year ritual up here.

    100's do NOT need the new valve assembly as they are considered for 'industrial' use, the new ones are, as above, for 'city idiots' that don't have a left handed wrench... I have a good selection at the cabin...

    check to see if the LPG is delivered in your area. You may have to get a 250# "PIG" for delivery.
     
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  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    A couple of things,,

    In most jurisdictions, portable Cyls. need revalving every ten years. Some will allow original valves for industrial use, ia assume because they figure that "pros" know what they are doing.

    Copper is still approved in some locales with proper flare fittings above ground. There is also gas line flex for in buildings but it uses proprietary fittings that are quite expensive and require special tools. For underground use, you can get a gas approved PEX type (yellow) that also uses special expensive terminations to convert to IP fittings. Most LP companies won't just sell it off the road, but if you sweet talk them, you can get them to supply the tubing and the risers that simply connect via click fittings. It does need to be buried how ever. I have used it essentially above gorund (buried shallow in the duff, since we are on bedrock) but I placed it inside cheap Black poly pipe to protect it from abrasion, and UV light.

    A proper (post regulator) gas installation test is to valve off all the devices (to protect them from over pressure), then pump up the entire system, with compressed air. You should pressurize it to 15 psi, and it should hold for at least 15 minutes without dropping. Then after purging the air, check all the final connects with gas test solution. (a simple hand held gas detector is a pretty good idea as well (sniffer)).

    Probably too much information,

    Tony
  • papa
    papa Solar Expert Posts: 51 ✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    I can only add two points;

    1. A regulator coupled directly to the tank valve is mandatory (no tubing, pipe, etc between the tank valve and the regulator). This is to prevent high pressure in any/all lines leading away from the tank. Typically only 11" of water column in the service line (measured at the appliance).

    2. Use yellow teflon tape ONLY on fittings that require sealant. Do NOT use the white stuff.
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    Correct,

    A regulator is requisite at the tank, but, depending on the regulator config, a second regulator is required at the service entrance.

    Depending on the down stream load, the tank regulator can run as high as 15 psi,,or more if a liquid delivery is required. Most appliances require 11-15" WC. Over pressure of appliances either from improper testing (see my post above,, if you fail to isolate appliances and thier internal gas control valves, or over pressure from the wrong or damaged regulator) can quickly destroy the internal working of appliance gas valves, which are designed to work on 11-13" Wc, or about 1/2 psi. (propane,, natural runs at about 4" or 1/4 psi.)

    The real bottom line, is, if you don't know wht you are really doing with gas fittings, find someone who does.it can get very scarry very quickly.

    Tony

    PS. Also use only Gas approved sealant, tape, or pipe dope. I prefer pipe dope over tape. I have found that with tape, if you hve to swing a fitting by losening it a bit, the tape does not seal properly, but dope will. Especially true with Els, where they need to point precisely.

    T
  • papa
    papa Solar Expert Posts: 51 ✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    Tony,

    I mentioned the regulator requirement because he has 2 tanks, and suggested eliminating one reg. Can't do that - he needs 2 regulators - one regulator for each tank.

    'Leaking' valves are a serious concern - replace those puppies pronto. Also, users need to learn to open them completely - all the way to the stop - no 'halve cracked' valves. If the valve continues to leak after fully opened, then he should NOT use the tank until it's fixed.
  • Cariboocoot
    Cariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    Guys; if the OP has two portable tanks withing 3' of the regulator he does not need two regulators.

    The reason for the two regulator system is so that there are not long lengths of line under full tank pressure; regulate at tank. If that regulator should fail (being "more exposed" to elements) the second unit prevents household line pressure from exceeding the safe standard. This is two regulators in series. Individual tank regulators are also required where the tanks are not deemed "portable" for the same reason or if the install allows both tanks to feed simultaneously.

    The local regs may vary a bit, and perhaps where he is the 100 lbs. tanks aren't considered "portable". I stopped considering them portable years ago. :p
  • paulskirocks
    paulskirocks Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    Thanks for all the input. I've done plenty of gas pip installations, and fortunately, even 20 years ago, when I originally ran the piping, I used proper gas pipe, pipe dope, etc.... It ran a stove and flash heater for years with no issues... However, at this point, the connection between the valves and the regulators leaks, as the brass has gotten pitted, and one regulator is shot... And I can tell you that 20 years ago, these these tanks were heavy for me when I was 28, but at 48, there beasts! Plus, I think they are possible a lot older than 20 years... Anyways, you guys cleared some things up, the new flash water heater arrived, and I have another job in line...
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    We have to off load 100#s off a pick up at the shore landing, spin them put on the do k, and drop them in the boat. (drop eing a metaphor, since dropping them would send them fit through the bottom!). Then down the lake, hand lift them out of the bobbing boat. In my case now, I have centralized the tanks in a building connected to the dock, but in the old days I would have to horse them through the bush. I now have a davit rigged up so I don't have to lift them, but I usually do since it is "easier". Our remote buildings are serviced by 40# tanks, for fridge and stove in guest cabins. As my 100#go out of date, I am replacing them with 60#s. we keep three in rotation, two on the line, one off to be filled or waiting to go on the line. Our house goes about 6 weeks on a 60#depending on how much baking is done!

    Tony
  • ggunn
    ggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions
    icarus wrote: »
    ..after purging the air, check all the final connects with gas test solution. (a simple hand held gas detector is a pretty good idea as well (sniffer)).

    Wouldn't a butane lighter work just as well? :D
  • paulskirocks
    paulskirocks Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions
    ggunn wrote: »
    Wouldn't a butane lighter work just as well? :D

    Well, I'll do the pressure test, and the soapy water in the squirt bottle test... ;)
  • paulskirocks
    paulskirocks Solar Expert Posts: 84 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    OK, back to the quick disconnects on the new tanks... Is this a requirement? Are these on all portable tanks these days? I see that I can still order tanks and regulators with the old style, but I wonder if I can get them filled? I don't trust the connections, myself, and would rather have the old style... One of my BBQs with the new style started leaking at the connection...
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    Most new portable tank have both the internal left hand thread connection, as well as the external coarse quick threads. Some hundreds have top fill valves (that can be filled with the tank connected) as well as standard fill through the valves.

    I would talk to your local LP supplier to make sure you are buying tanks that they will fill, either from the truck, or on thier dock.

    Tony

    PS,, just for those that may e tempted by the joke,, using an open flame to look for gas leaks is decidedly NOT a recommended procedure!

    T
  • ggunn
    ggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions
    icarus wrote: »
    PS,, just for those that may e tempted by the joke,, using an open flame to look for gas leaks is decidedly NOT a recommended procedure!

    My Bonnie looked into the gas tank
    The height of its contents to see
    She lit a small match to assist her
    Oh, bring back my Bonnie to me...

    :D
  • inetdog
    inetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions
    icarus wrote: »
    Correct,

    A regulator is requisite at the tank, but, depending on the regulator config, a second regulator is required at the service entrance.

    Depending on the down stream load, the tank regulator can run as high as 15 psi,,or more if a liquid delivery is required. Most appliances require 11-15" WC. Over pressure of appliances either from improper testing (see my post above,, if you fail to isolate appliances and thier internal gas control valves, or over pressure from the wrong or damaged regulator) can quickly destroy the internal working of appliance gas valves, which are designed to work on 11-13" Wc, or about 1/2 psi. (propane,, natural runs at about 4" or 1/4 psi.)

    T

    I found that out when adding a new gas drier to an existing gas furnace/ tankless water heater/ gas space heater system.
    The original installation regulated straight to 11"Wc at the tank and distributed via a tree of 1" pipe down to 1/2" pipe. I was afraid that I would have to replace about 40' of buried 1/2" pipe when adding the dryer in, but the propane dealer had the right solution: switch to a high pressure (15psi) regulator at the tank and put in secondary (11" Wc) regulators at the two different places the pipe entered the house. The higher pressure allowed the same mass of gas to flow without excessive pressure loss through the smaller pipe runs.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions
    inetdog wrote: »
    I found that out when adding a new gas drier to an existing gas furnace/ tankless water heater/ gas space heater system.
    The original installation regulated straight to 11"Wc at the tank and distributed via a tree of 1" pipe down to 1/2" pipe. I was afraid that I would have to replace about 40' of buried 1/2" pipe when adding the dryer in, but the propane dealer had the right solution: switch to a high pressure (15psi) regulator at the tank and put in secondary (11" Wc) regulators at the two different places the pipe entered the house. The higher pressure allowed the same mass of gas to flow without excessive pressure loss through the smaller pipe runs.

    That said, if your origina piping was tested for low pressure (11") it is a pretty good idea to test it for 15 psi!, about 30 times the pressure. If anyone is going to do this, I suggest air testing (as described in a previous post) and pump it up to say 50 psi for 15 minutes. The consequences of a tiny leak at .5 psi are much greater with 15 psi.

    Tony

    PS at 2500 feet elevation you begin to have issues with Gas pressure as well,, RTFM!

    T
  • inetdog
    inetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions
    icarus wrote: »
    That said, if your origina piping was tested for low pressure (11") it is a pretty good idea to test it for 15 psi!, about 30 times the pressure. If anyone is going to do this, I suggest air testing (as described in a previous post) and pump it up to say 50 psi for 15 minutes. The consequences of a tiny leak at .5 psi are much greater with 15 psi.

    Tony

    PS at 2500 feet elevation you begin to have issues with Gas pressure as well,, RTFM!

    T

    Thanks Tony,

    The installer in fact did a pressure test on the piping after they put on the high pressure regulator at the tank, while they had the other end of the pipes capped off prior to installing the secondary regulators. Then they did a bleed-through test on the secondary regulators and found that one of them (brand new) was defective and allowed the appliance-side pressure to climb above the regulator set point when no gas was being drawn. I was very happy that they knew what they were doing. There are some things (non-electrical) where I am not comfortable with DIY myself, and this was one of them.

    The elevation problem was not bad according to the installation manuals for each piece of equipment, and the temperature does not go much below 0F, so the weather-exposed tank and piping are not a problem either. (Knock on wood!)

    BTW, how about the "human error" cause of the Springfield gas explosion?
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • icarus
    icarus Solar Expert Posts: 5,436 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Propane questions

    Re: Sprinfield. The thing I read suggested that he was looking for a leak, and the locate marks were wrong, and he penetrated a pipe with a probe!

    As for cold and LP, it is rally a matter of demand relative to tank capacity. At -40 the pilots sty lit, and you can use the stove top, but a 100# tank won't deliver enough for the demand water heater for very long. A large tank will probably deliver enough for most uses for a short term load. I have seen tanks at below -40 that would put out any gas at all,, and when they did, they would frost up a couple inches thick. One time, in an emergency (as all we had was propane heat for the building), at -58f, we had to switch tanks every two hours, bringing the one in, and after chipping off the frost, we heated it over a Coleman lamp for two hours, then repeat the exercise for three days,, this to fire a 35k heater!

    That's why we burn wood!

    Tony