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  1. #1
    Lieutenant HVAC Cruiser's Avatar
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    Default LP lines on house Freezing

    Does anyone have any thoughts on the LP lines on my house freezing?

    History:
    I use very little LP, its just for the range top I have a convection over gas stove. This summer I got into an argument with the gas company that had been supplying my tanks.I use less than 100# a year, they wanted to charge me $700 a year whether or not I used the gas
    I gave them back their tanks and installed 2 new 40# tanks and set the house up with a new regulator from the trailer and RV store, all has been fine till know. Last week my wife told me that we were out of gas so when I got home I swapped them over, still no gas. I used a hairdryer on the lines and regulator and viola we had gas again. I have now been going through this every day.

    Here is what I'm thinking so far:
    1- An LP setup is a pressurized,closed system there should be no way for moisture to get in.
    2- The only way for moisture to keep re-appearing is the tanks were not purged properly on the initial fill there still being air in them causing moisture at dew point hence the daily freezing.

    Anyone ever had this problem or thoughts on it?
    Bill


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  2. #2
    Fleet Admiral Gary H NC's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    I had that problem on my garage heater. When the temps get real cold the LP tank would freeze at the fittings...

    Looking forward to the answers you get here..I never figured out why they freeze.I tried 3 different tanks.


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  3. #3
    Admiral
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    As was sayed if your propane isnt purged well enough you tend to get a air lock, I dont know why, but I flipped the tank up side down turned the valve, and depressed the ball lock mech, blasted out a second or two of propane, never had another problem, as for freezing up I dont think you have any problems till it hits -30/-40c (-40f is the same as -40c) at least thats about were it use to always plague us starting our trucks. As for the ice build up on the fittings thats the condinsation attaching and iceing it self to the fittings as the gas is already below zero.
    rob
    Last edited by rbh; December 21st, 2009 at 11:25 AM. Reason: add
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Quote Originally Posted by rbh View Post
    As was sayed if your propane isnt purged well enough you tend to get a air lock, I dont know why, but I flipped the tank up side down turned the valve, and depressed the ball lock mech, blasted out a second or two of propane, never had another problem, as for freezing up I dont think you have any problems till it hits -30/-40c (-40f is the same as -40c) at least thats about were it use to always plague us starting our trucks. As for the ice build up on the fittings thats the condinsation attaching and iceing it self to the fittings as the gas is already below zero.
    rob
    Thanks RBH for your input, wow -40c I don't think its been that cold here since the ice age.
    Flipping the tank over is a good idea, I'll try that. When you flip the tank over I imagine is the same as in refrigeration, your pushing liquid at that point which would push out any impurities.

    I'm having the freezing problem from about 29f/-1.5c I figure it must be a freezing problem because the hair drier on the lines seem to do the trick. I initially figured doing it once would cure the problem by pushing whatever water was in it out but it is now an everyday problem
    Bill


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  5. #5
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    A simple heat tape from the hardware store, or a modified crankcase heater mignt do the trick, never dealt with that problem before.
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    I am thinking that if the tank was not purged correctly that could be a problem, as well if the lines got any condinsation in them between replacing the rental tank, they could freeze up, once you have the propane running freely, keep appliance on for a while and see if it starts to slow, just to be sure.
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  7. #7
    Ensign 86 century's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    It is a flow problem it is the same thing as cracking the valve will put a frost line on the tank from the pressure difference. You may be asking for more than the smaller tank has to give. I have the same problem with 20lb tanks on my salamander.


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  8. #8
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    RBH - I tried running the stove after heating up the lines, it works fine for a day. By the next morning its frozen again.

    86 century -, I think your on to something there with it being a flow problem. I actually just go off the phone with one of my customers who's head of technical services for gas boiler manufacturer. He said the same thing basically, he said it is most likely a combination of the tank surface area at the top and the gas regulator valve. The gas regulator might be to small and that on a call for gas the velocity is to great causing it to push liquid instead of gas which is then freezing in the lines.

    a70eliminator - I'm thinking you might have the simplest solution but is heat trace ok on a gas line
    Last edited by HVAC Cruiser; December 21st, 2009 at 05:28 PM. Reason: grammar
    Bill


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  9. #9
    Ensign 86 century's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Mine will do the same thing if it is 75deg in the garage(the tank is inside)so i dought the heat tape would work but.


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  10. #10
    Petty Officer 1st Class Bucks45's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Quote Originally Posted by rbh View Post
    As was sayed if your propane isnt purged well enough you tend to get a air lock, I dont know why, but I flipped the tank up side down turned the valve, and depressed the ball lock mech, blasted out a second or two of propane, never had another problem, as for freezing up I dont think you have any problems till it hits -30/-40c (-40f is the same as -40c) at least thats about were it use to always plague us starting our trucks. As for the ice build up on the fittings thats the condinsation attaching and iceing it self to the fittings as the gas is already below zero.
    rob
    I agree with RBH, airlock...anytime I've had that problem with the grill, I pull the line and drain some LP. It's always fixed it.

  11. #11
    Rear Admiral Howard Sterndrive's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    how was it concluded that the line is freezing?

    sounds like you just aren't getting fuel through the line.
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Quote Originally Posted by Howard Sterndrive View Post
    how was it concluded that the line is freezing?

    sounds like you just aren't getting fuel through the line.
    it worked fine up till now all spring and summer etc, only started acting up in the colder weather. At first I thought the tank was just empty but when I checked it it still had 30# in it I have 2 40# tanks. On a hunch I hit the lines with a hair drier and in about 10 seconds of heat the gas started flowing again to the stove. I have had to heat the lines every day since Friday with the exception of today, I'm assuming that's because its 35 out today.
    Bill


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  13. #13
    Admiral j_martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    1. You don't want a heat tape anywhere near propane, unless yer into bomb making.

    2. Propane will hit zero pressure at about -20 degrees F. The pressure you need is 11 inches water column, which is just a bit over 1/2 psi. If you disconnect the tank and crack the valve, you'll have plenty of pressure.

    3. A cheap single stage regulator will sometimes act up when it gets cold. Moisture on and in the regulator can agravate the problem. Warming it up will help for a time.

    4. Moisture in the tank, either from a supplier with wet gas, or from before the original fill can cause these kinds of problems. They pump liquid fuel from the bottom of the tank, and water is about twice as heavy as liquified propane.

    I suspect a fresh regulator, and a simple structure to keep rain and snow from getting on the regulator will fix the problem.

    hope it helps
    John

  14. #14
    Captain Tim Frank's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    You have two things working against you.
    The cylinders are supplying gas (not liquid), and the vapour pressure of propane at say 20 deg F is 1/4 what it is at 80 deg F. That is what "drives" your gas delivery at the stove and at this time of year can be as little as 1/4 of summertime "power".
    The other constraint is obviously the length and size of supply piping.
    Too long a run, and/or too small a diameter, and you have line-losses that coupled with the reduced operating pressure take the available flow below what will feed the stove.

    It is possible that the lines are actually freezing, but that can only be from moisture...and most likely that would be an incomplete purge prior to filling the tanks initially.
    To separate the two causes, next time you :"freeze up", get a tub larger than the in-service 40#er, and put the tank in it. Then fill the tub with warm water (75-90 deg F) to about 2/3 the cylinder height . If that solves the problem and gas flows, you have a system problem...as described at the top. You need bigger lines or bigger tanks....or both. Since presumably you are using the same lines as previously it would make sense that you need bigger tanks.

    If the hot water does not have an impact, and if the hair dryer is used at the same constriction point each time and then results in continuous flow for a while, it may well be moisture in the system.

    In either case the root change has been new tanks. IMO that is where to start....if the hot water does not work, take one of the tanks and have it "really" purged and then filled, and try that.

  15. #15
    Captain Tim Frank's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Quote Originally Posted by j_martin View Post
    1. You don't want a heat tape anywhere near propane, unless yer into bomb making.

    A check with any gas utility and/or competent gas fitter/contractor will prove that statement baseless.
    As with any gas-related installation, it is critical to use the right equipment and the correct procedure, but this is a routine and safe design element in many service installations.

    On the other hand, there should be no reason that heat-tracing these lines should be suddenly required, especially in the temperatures the OP reported.

  16. #16
    Master Chief Petty Officer dwco5051's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    The side of the regulator diaphragm that has the spring against it is vented to the atmosphere through a small orifice so if the diaphragm would leak it would vent to the outside at a controlled rate. It also pemits the regulator to work against the spring pressure alone. If the orifice is plugged by ice pressure can build up and cause it not to open. I had a service call to a school once where a fairly large natural gas regulator (2") was covered with ice from a leaking roof gutter causing it to close off and shut off the boiler. Don't know if that is your case but it just another idea. The vent on a regulator for a small propane tank is very small and could be frosting closed.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Thank you all for your input,
    Well its 27 deg here at 5:40am, I just checked the stove and there is no gas again. Guess its time for me to run some tests at 1st light. The run from the tanks is only about 15' and its 1/2" so I'm thinking that is ok for the rate of flow for the stove. That leaves either the tanks or the regulator being the culprit.
    The regulator is a Marshall auto changeover 2 stage unit here is a link to the page were I got it from. What I am going to try is this, crack the line at the regulator from the tank, if I get gas there it is the regulator freezing, if I don't its the tank with moisture freezing up the feed lines. I'm starting to think going to be the regulator freezing up, I'll keep you guys posted to the finding
    Bill


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  18. #18
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Well it looks like the verdict is in, its a regulator problem. I cracked the line from the tanks at the regulator and there was plenty of gas and gas pressure. Looking at it I can see the tiny vent hole dwco5051 was talking about and water Can get into it the way I had mounted it, its horizontal right now. Looks like I am going to redo the setup to vertical making sure the vents face down then make a cover or pick one up to protect the entire setup from the elements. I think the trailer store might even sell the covers just don't know if they stock them
    Bill


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  19. #19
    Moderator Bondo's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Ayuh,... stepping in here alittle late,..
    But,...
    Contrary to what you'd think,...
    Water in your propane is Not unheard of...
    I've had the problem twice in the last 10 years, last year was the 2nd time...
    Both times it took 2 things to relieve the Problem,...
    1 was the gas co. injecting methanol into my tanks, then a warm spell to thaw the ice...
    While my gas co. was adamant about the supposed fact that there's no moisture in their propane,...
    But,... The methanol Cured the problem...
    Maybe the next time you get your tanks filled, Ask 'em to inject a shot of methanol into each 1....

    In my case, I have 2, 100lbers with quik-fills that are Mine, not theirs,...
    Where they're mounted to the side of the house, there's water dripping onto the top of 1 of the tanks,...
    Even though they're a sealed system, the quik-fill cap has a vent hole, which allows a tablespoon of Water to lay inside the quik-fill,...
    When the delivery guy takes the plastic cap off,+ put's his fill adapter onto the quik-fill, that tablespoon of water is pushed into the tank...
    I've since found 1 of the old aluminum tip-up covers,+ installed it over my tanks...

    Btw,... The ice plug I was dealing with was in the 3/8" copper tubing, just before it entered the house, where it leveled out before dropping again...
    Any Grease is Better,..... Than No Grease at All.......

  20. #20
    Captain Tim Frank's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Did you replace the regulator after the tanks were changed?
    If not, I wonder why this suddenly happened now, after all this time?

  21. #21
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Frank View Post
    Did you replace the regulator after the tanks were changed?
    If not, I wonder why this suddenly happened now, after all this time?
    When I change over to my own and kicked the gas company to the curb I had to install both the tanks and the regulator (they insisted they owned the regulator also).
    I redid the setup this morning making sure the vents were facing down and for now covered over it with plastic to keep water off it, guess well see if that cures the problem

    Hi Bond-o, that's kinda what I used to do with my air lines on my tractors, I wish I could get some methanol injected into the tanks, but I get them filled at the local hardware store. Maybe when the next one empties out I will rig something up a connection to my vacuum pump to evacuate out the tank myself. Bring it down like an A/C system to 500 micron and boil out any moisture in there , then have it suck up a few cc's of methanol before I have it charged.
    Bill


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  22. #22
    Admiral j_martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Frank View Post

    A check with any gas utility and/or competent gas fitter/contractor will prove that statement baseless.
    As with any gas-related installation, it is critical to use the right equipment and the correct procedure, but this is a routine and safe design element in many service installations.

    On the other hand, there should be no reason that heat-tracing these lines should be suddenly required, especially in the temperatures the OP reported.
    Many larger systems have evaporators on them, often propane fired. However they are special equipment designed for the service. Amateur heat-taping propane lines, especially near a propane tank where a pressure relief valve could open, or just leak, is a prescription for fire. That is what was being suggested.

  23. #23
    Admiral j_martin's Avatar
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Quote Originally Posted by HVAC Cruiser View Post
    When I change over to my own and kicked the gas company to the curb I had to install both the tanks and the regulator (they insisted they owned the regulator also).
    I redid the setup this morning making sure the vents were facing down and for now covered over it with plastic to keep water off it, guess well see if that cures the problem

    Hi Bond-o, that's kinda what I used to do with my air lines on my tractors, I wish I could get some methanol injected into the tanks, but I get them filled at the local hardware store. Maybe when the next one empties out I will rig something up a connection to my vacuum pump to evacuate out the tank myself. Bring it down like an A/C system to 500 micron and boil out any moisture in there , then have it suck up a few cc's of methanol before I have it charged.

    Vacuum purging the tank will get the water out fer sure. Just be sure you don't allow any air into the tank, and when they refill it they are tightly connected up before they crack the valve, or they'll have trouble filling it and have to purge some gas to atmosphere to get it done.

    Where I work we build propane delivery trucks. They put a gallon or so of methanol into each one before it goes down the road.

    Actually, a little water in a propane tank that is having the product removed as gas should not hurt anything. It should just lay in the bottom harmlessly.

    My bet is on ice in the regulator vent. Happens all the time here in the tundra.

    If you have gotten a bit of water in the delivery line, it can be removed by disconnecting both ends and blasting a little compressed air though it. Then put a cc or so of methanol, or isoproponal (isoheat gas drier) right in the line before you hook it back up.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Hey John,
    I'm thinking you & dwco5051 are right with the vent on the regulator. I knew it had to be a freeze problem of some sort because when I hit it with the hair drier it would work for a day then freeze up again. Today was the first time I tried it with only heating the reg. and it did the trick. This has taught me a very valuable lesson, I have had problems in the past with tanks not purged properly (BBQ) and even though it does not seem to be the case in this instance, I am going to pick up another line with the LP connector on it and set it up on an old set of A/C manifold gauges. From now on I will evacuate the tanks before bringing them to get re-filled and make sure they hook up before and purge their line before cracking the valve on the tank.

    Funny thing is I never gave it much thought before this week but its like when I charge a new A/C system, 1st nitrogen, then Vac, then nitrogen, then vac down to 500 microns to make sure I get all the non-condensables out. I never realized this is no different .

    I can't thank everyone enough for their input, and helping me solve this problem. You guys saved my life with wifey who was really getting upset with me
    Bill


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  25. #25
    Admiral
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    Default Re: LP lines on house Freezing

    Bill, hope every thing works out for you, dont want to have christmas dinner ruined now due to flame out
    and just a thought about the regulator, I think your suppose to use the yellow teflon tape when screwing in any npt threaded fittings, tapered gas fittings you dont. Just double check
    best of the season
    rob
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