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Old 07-07-2014, 01:25 PM   #8101
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Just in case the world hasn't handed me enough troubles lately, the demand water heater decided not to work this morning. Plenty of propane, the stove and oven work fine, so who knows.

Called the local propane outfit and discovered that this is quite common. 90% of the time it is a plugged orifice - which is only .004" - and it can be remedied by removing the internal supply line and the small burn assembly. Then that is soaked in some sort of cleaner for 24 hours and it should work. Apparently you can use paint thinner, lacquer thinner, gasoline or carburetor cleaner to do this.

I have three of the four on hand, so it is soaking in lacquer thinner as we speak. If it doesn't fly tomorrow morning, then the unit will need to be removed and taken over to town. Happy days.
Never mind, that is salt water out there. I was going to suggest a nice swim but... Buddy it seems like you spend so much of your time putting out fires, that really is the pits. You don't have one of the files for the orifice of a cutting torch do you, that might work on the jet.

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Old 07-07-2014, 03:08 PM   #8102
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Never mind, that is salt water out there. I was going to suggest a nice swim but... Buddy it seems like you spend so much of your time putting out fires, that really is the pits. You don't have one of the files for the orifice of a cutting torch do you, that might work on the jet.
The tip cleaners for a torch are quite a bit bigger than .004" Jim. That was the first thing I thought of, except that the little tube where the pilot light runs from is curved, so I don't think it would work anyway.
At the top end of the tube is a small coil of what looks like wire. I know that piece glows when the pilot light is working, but whether or not the gas goes through that wire or not I'm not certain.
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Old 07-07-2014, 03:14 PM   #8103
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Well that didn't work very well, let's try a better pic.

Now you should be able to see that little coil better...I hope.
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Old 07-07-2014, 04:39 PM   #8104
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It looks to me that gas comes down the tube and the coil is the ground for the electrode to make the spark, then it may not be, but that would be my guess.
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Old 07-07-2014, 04:54 PM   #8105
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It looks to me that gas comes down the tube and the coil is the ground for the electrode to make the spark, then it may not be, but that would be my guess.
Could be, but I really don't know. If it cleans up overnight and the orifice opens up, I'll make sure to take a good look to see what's what in there. When I pushed the clicker this morning, there was no spark. Usually you can see a bright blue lightning like flash to get the gas lit, but nothing today.

Apparently it is the sulphur in the propane which builds up and causes this to happen. Hope their fix works.
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Old 07-08-2014, 10:13 PM   #8106
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No Luck with the overnight clean...so I spoke with the propane guys this morning and he had me check to see if the propane was actually getting from the supply tank to the regulator on the water heater. OH YEAH!!! The second I opened the valve there was plenty of gas. OK, so that wasn't it. I will take the unit in to town ASAP.

This evening when I went to cook dinner, the stove burner ran fine for about a minute, then slowed down to just a flicker. Say what? Outside to check the regulator and it is sitting on red...not working properly. Hmmmmm....

Switch to the other tank..same thing. What to do now?

Aha, I still have the 17 year old regulator over on the little cabin, so take that off, switch regulators...BINGO! Works like a charm.

However, I really don't think that the faulty regulator has anything to do with the water heater not working. I say that because the stove and oven continued to work until this afternoon when the propane supply evidently started to fail.

So I will take the old regulator to town as well to see if that is or is not really working.

Naturally the marine forecast for tomorrow is windy...just what I need. But it IS sunny here all this week!
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Old 07-08-2014, 10:26 PM   #8107
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Hopefully you will get all back up and running in short order buddy. That is the pits when it seems everything is heading south. It is always wonderful when things get back to normal and running smooth, I hope it does for you soon Keith
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Old 07-08-2014, 10:27 PM   #8108
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Keith there is no way in hell that property will ever survive without you being there to tweak things almost daily. Whatever you do...DON'T offer a new owner any kind of a warranty.
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:10 AM   #8109
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Keith there is no way in hell that property will ever survive without you being there to tweak things almost daily. Whatever you do...DON'T offer a new owner any kind of a warranty.
Have no fear of that happening. Although I will be more than happy to let them know exactly how everything works.

It's just a run of bad luck lately, that's all. Things will pick up soon!
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:29 AM   #8110
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That's a lot of hands on experience that you have. I guess you have to want to tinker to live in such a beautiful but wild place. Nature pays you back with the beautiful sunsets and wildlife.
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Old 07-09-2014, 08:42 AM   #8111
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That's a lot of hands on experience that you have. I guess you have to want to tinker to live in such a beautiful but wild place. Nature pays you back with the beautiful sunsets and wildlife.
To be perfectly candid Melissa...there comes a time when you don't really want to be wasting half your life tinkering.

The water heater and regulator should not have malfunctioned. Propane is not something to take lightly and I'll tell you a story about something that happened here several years ago.

There was a house on the other side of the island which had a similar demand water heater. At the time, it was not a requirement that the heater shut itself off if the water pressure dropped below 20 PSI, as there is now.

It is believed that something went awry with the water, and the heater kept operating - eventually starting a fire in the wall which destroyed the entire house. Window glass was melted over the rocks, sheet metal roofing was completely unrecognizable. A 100% loss.

So you can understand my desire to let the pro's take care of whatever is wrong this time.

I'm thinking of making a solar powered water heating system now.
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Old 07-09-2014, 12:07 PM   #8112
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To be perfectly candid Melissa...there comes a time when you don't really want to be wasting half your life tinkering.

The water heater and regulator should not have malfunctioned. Propane is not something to take lightly and I'll tell you a story about something that happened here several years ago.

There was a house on the other side of the island which had a similar demand water heater. At the time, it was not a requirement that the heater shut itself off if the water pressure dropped below 20 PSI, as there is now.

It is believed that something went awry with the water, and the heater kept operating - eventually starting a fire in the wall which destroyed the entire house. Window glass was melted over the rocks, sheet metal roofing was completely unrecognizable. A 100% loss.

So you can understand my desire to let the pro's take care of whatever is wrong this time.

I'm thinking of making a solar powered water heating system now.
You will be amazed how hot a solar water heater can get. I thought about doing that several years back. I subscribed to Mother Earth News at the time which had many articles about solar heating and such. I was surprised to know that some of the units got so hot it set the frames on fire.

Several years back I helped a friend build a log cabin from scratch, cut the pine trees and skin them with draw knives, hand hewed beams and all. It was some really dirty work and at the end of the day a shower was so wonderful.

There was no electricity or utilities other than a clear running brook that ran through the place. My friend had built a shower that looked a little like an outhouse with stairs up one side. He had a huge black cast iron kettle that we put water in and built a fire under to warm the water.

He had taken a metal garbage can and soldered a pipe in the bottom with a cut off and shower head. That was installed over the outhouse looking little building. We put the boiling water in the garbage can and cool water to get the water just right for a shower. Man talk about nice, it was so wonderful to be able to shower after a long dirty day.

We have a couple of 50 foot black heavy water hose which get the water so hot we can not stand the water until it cools down. It is amazing how much heat that can be produced from the sun, it will surprise you. The shingles on our house will reach as much as 170 degrees in the summer, can you imagine harnessing that kind of energy and storing it? OK, I need to shut up now before I really get carried away.
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Old 07-09-2014, 01:41 PM   #8113
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Hi Jim:
I used to be a Mother Earth subscriber as well for many years.
There's just about no limit to the ways that solar can be used to heat water, and as you say, it gets HOT!
My friend Don who has a cabin at the other end of the island, has his main house over near Vancouver. He heats the water for his swimming pool with solar panels on his roof.
Well, it seems that one nice summer day the water pressure went south, and with no water going through the collectors - which were black plastic - they melted in the 350 heat. He loves to tell that story.
The small system that I envision would use a 12 volt bilge pump to move the water through a collector mounted higher than the hot tub...that's the first place I would test this out. When the pump is off, the water in the collector would drain back into the tub, thus eliminating the potential of the water to freeze in winter.
Heck, I could even use the pump to run the water through a garden hose and right back into the tub. That's something I can try today!
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Old 07-09-2014, 09:44 PM   #8114
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Man, I made a post and it isn't here, guess I need to report it to a mod.

That is kinda strange though. It is amazing how hot the solar heaters can get. It would be great if you had some super thick styrofoam you could make a super insulated storage for the hot water. I just had a thought, may not be a good one but wouldn't hot water rise through a pipe like hot air does? If it does you could have a tank up in the house and the solar heater lower, maybe the water would circulate by itself. Hot water rise, cooled water flow back into lower tank by another pipe. Just thinking out loud, it may not work that way, I don't know.
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Old 07-09-2014, 11:36 PM   #8115
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Jim, I think something like you are talking about exists. I can't remember the details, but yes of course hot water will rise just as hot air does. Check with ANY politician on that one.

If you have a large tank with warm water being fed into it slowly, the water will stratify. Warmer at the top and cooler at the bottom. If you rely on the push of warm water from your solar heater rather than a pump, I think you need to have the outlet from the solar heater higher than the tank water level and emptying into space. In other words an open circuit. Or right at the top of the tank, something like that anyway. I'll be getting into all that when I move from here and get stuck into building the next place.

I did try a bilge pump and some hose this afternoon, but billy the bilge pump didn't have enough ooomph to get the job done.

It took me ages to find enough fittings just to hook the pump up, and in the end it was a waste of time. A good source of 12v power is a battery charger if you don't have a big car battery handy.
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