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-   -   problems w/ buried propane tank (http://www.diychatroom.com/f2/problems-w-buried-propane-tank-170080/)

BJohnston 01-25-2013 09:42 AM

problems w/ buried propane tank
 
Hey guys,

Bought a house in June that was new construction. They buried a 500 gallon propane tank that runs our range, fire place, water heater and backup to our heat pump.

So now, its very cold out (highs in the 20s and lows in the low teens) and we seem to be running into some supply issues.

The tank is reading 55% full, and we filled it a few weeks ago so i'm thinking that is probably correct. But we're not getting enough pressure or supply into the house to run the backup to our heat pump. The heat pump has an outside air handler which runs when its not extremely cold. Right now, with the temps its running in aux mode.

So, my question is what does everyone think is causing the problem? The temperature? Hope not, was hoping we could rely on the propane in case of emergencies and it doesn't seem like that is feasible if it doesn't work in a little chilly weather.

Maybe a bad regulator or something? Amerigas is coming to do something this afternoon, hopefully they can identify and fix the problem. Just want to make sure this isn't going to be a recurring problem.

danpik 01-25-2013 10:48 AM

Best to find out what they say when they look at it. Could be a frozen regulator.

joecaption 01-25-2013 10:53 AM

Or an under sized supply line.
I've seen many times where people had added on to there existing systems but never increased the line size.
Something as simple as the vent hole in the regulater facing the wrong direction can let water in that freezes.

BJohnston 01-25-2013 12:31 PM

Frozen regulator it is. They swapped out both regulators for larger ones. Also, guy recommended adding methanol to the tank to prevent freezing.

To be honest, i'm very surprised this even happened. What I've read is that while propane pressure does decrease with temperature, It really should only cause problems in sub zero conditions. With it only getting to a low of 12-15, I would think it would still work.

Does anyone else have these problems with their tanks? Any best practices to prevent it?

Thanks.

joecaption 01-25-2013 01:09 PM

Not much you as a consumer can do, it's up to them to adjust there mix as it gets colder.

Fairview 01-25-2013 01:37 PM

I've read horror stories about Amerigas and this seems to be another contributing element. For propane gas to freeze in the regulator at those temperatures the legal limit of water in the gas has been exceeded.

They're selling you expensive water and it will shorten the life of your appliances. I'd be changing suppliers just as soon as the contract was up. The only way I know of to prove it is have a gas sample tested and probably hire an attorney.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_chromatography

Bondo 01-25-2013 02:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BJohnston (Post 1101798)
Frozen regulator it is. They swapped out both regulators for larger ones. Also, guy recommended adding methanol to the tank to prevent freezing.

To be honest, i'm very surprised this even happened. What I've read is that while propane pressure does decrease with temperature, It really should only cause problems in sub zero conditions. With it only getting to a low of 12-15, I would think it would still work.

Does anyone else have these problems with their tanks? Any best practices to prevent it?

Thanks.

Ayuh,... The Propane Pros hate to admit it, but water, from condensation, or whatever Can be a problem,...

Years back, my stove wouldn't work at 31į or less,...
I whined long enough, 'n loud enough to get my supplier's guy to stop by, 'n pump in a pint of alcohol,...

No problem after that...:thumbsup:

Fairview 01-25-2013 02:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bondo (Post 1101847)
Ayuh,... The Propane Pros hate to admit it, but water, from condensation, or whatever Can be a problem,...

Years back, my stove wouldn't work at 31į or less,...
I whined long enough, 'n loud enough to get my supplier's guy to stop by, 'n pump in a pint of alcohol,...

No problem after that...:thumbsup:

So you're still burning water in excess of the legal limit. I'll just bet that reduces BTUs.

Bondo 01-25-2013 04:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Fairview (Post 1101856)
So you're still burning water in excess of the legal limit. I'll just bet that reduces BTUs.

Ayuh,... I had a drainage issue,...
The 100lb. tanks had the truck-fill/ quick-fill caps, with a vent hole...
The tanks are under an eave fall,...

I can't move 'em, so I put a tank hood over 'em,...
But still needed that bit of water gone,...

The pint of alcohol obviously worked, as it was 10 years ago, or so,...

Donno nothin' 'bout yer issue with Amerigas,...
I trust My supplier, or they wouldn't Be My supplier...

md2lgyk 01-26-2013 07:36 AM

Definitely something wrong. I have the same setup as you, and have never had such a problem. But our supplier is not Amerigas.

joecaption 01-26-2013 09:39 AM

We've had quite a time with Amerigas in this area. Unless you call and say thee's a gas leak it's near imposable to get them to show up.
The customer already had an above ground tank but it was to small and she wanted to go with a below ground tank in a differant location.
We already had the hole and trenches dug, and we told them all the info they needed to size the lines. We had to sit there and wait for them three times to set the tank and they would not show up when they said they would and they never called to cancel.
When the truck did show up they had an above ground tank and a roll of 1/4 copper tubing. When it needed to be at least 1/2.
We canceled it and sent them on there way I called our local gas company they sent out a salesman within an hour and delivered the right tank the next day.

roxytom 01-26-2013 12:05 PM

When we bought our house, it had a 500 gallon tank in rhe ground. It was owned by Suburban who had the highest price I ever saw for propane. I told them I was going to buy my own 1000 gallon tank and that they could remove theirs. They said we will pick it up, but would not dig it up. So an hour or so each day after work, I hand dug around the tank until it was vlear all around. I flooded the hole so the tank would float and then hooked a tugging strap to it and my truck. I pulled it out of the hole and it was picked up for free. Funny thing about that tank, the regulator was regularly under water from rain and we never had an issue.
Id you can afford it, buying your own tank pays off quickly. Our 1000 gallon tank cost $1700 new, I tried to buy used but no luck. Rhis past summer when we filled up, we paid $1.23 a gallon as opposed to Suburban at $3.89 a gallon. Now we can shop around. If you don't want to buy such a large tank, you can find used ones on Craigslist all the time.

BJohnston 01-28-2013 11:02 AM

Back to square one. After we had our regulators changed out, the freezing continued. Each night, when the temperatures dropped, the propane just stopped flowing. Ended up using some heat tape and a towel to trap the heat around the regulator. Will probably put in a more permanent solution with heat tape and pipe insulation.

After talking with the service guy, I think itís time for a switch. He told me (straight faced) this is something we just have to deal with, which I donít believe is even close to the truth. I've heard horror stories about Suburban as well. Not sure if it will even be feasible to switch as the tank is owned by Amerigas.

The service guy did say something about adding an additive to the tank (methanol or some form of the word close to that). Will this let us burn off all the water in the tank? Or just stop it from freezing?


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