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Old 09/04/07, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Ontario
Posts: 749
Running out of propane, what will happen?

There is only about 10 pounds or whatever on my propane tank, the needle is at 10 anyways. I don't really have the money to get it filled up right now, so when the propane does run out what will happen to the hot water heater which is gas and the boiler for the radiant floor? Will the pilot lights just go out or should I shut off the hot water heater and boiler or will anything burn out? I can use the woodstove to heat up my water for now, I've done it before. Thanks Chris

Last edited by canfossi; 09/04/07 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 09/04/07, 12:16 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 199
I dont know how big your tank is but the 10 shoukd mean 10% left in it. Which should last a good while if you are conservitive with it. If it does run out pilots will go out with no harm done.
"If you can't fix it you gotta stand it"
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Old 09/04/07, 01:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,176
The propane company will probably charge you an extra fee to prime your system if you let your propane completely run out.
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Old 09/04/07, 02:34 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: New York
Posts: 298
if you can, you might want to shut off the pilot just before it runs out, it will be much easier to relight and it might save you the extra fee from the propane company.
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Old 09/04/07, 02:38 PM
Oggie's Avatar
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: OK
Posts: 10,618
It would be easier to shut it off before the pilot lights go out.

Either way, be sure to shut it off if the tank is near empty. There's a small chance that the sun or ambient temperature might warm the tank and cause gas to flow into the house unburned by the pilot lights if they are out and the valves are open.
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Old 09/04/07, 02:51 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Middle of NC
Posts: 1,458
As said above, the numbers are percentages. If you have a 500 gallon tank, 10 % means you still have 50 gallons. Also, you can buy a quantity, such as 100 gallons. You don't have to have it fully filled. Maybe your finances could handle 50, 75, or 100 gallons to get you through until better times.
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Old 09/04/07, 02:55 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 7,883
Yes, somebody will want to charge you a fee to relight everything.

Can you work out a deal with your propane supplier to just get a small amount of fuel--for now--rather than a complete fill . . ???

But------don't expect them to be happy putting in *20 bucks* a week.
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Old 09/04/07, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: NW Georgia
Posts: 7,215
If you turn the hot water down to the vacation/lowest setting where only the pilot light stays on, 10% of a normal tank (250 gallons or higher) can last for a very long time. Same thing goes for your boiler, have it set so low that it nevers comes on but the pilot light stays on. That way, you're ready to go when you do fuel up. Best wishes.
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Old 09/04/07, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Waco, TX
Posts: 148
Round here by law they hafta do a leak test if the tank is totally empty; iirc they charge 25 bux or so to do it. Some gages not accurate so if you wanna see for sure how much is there pour hot water down the end (or side; end usually easier though) & you'll be able to feel the liquid level; metal will be warm until the liquid absorbs the heat creating a distinct change in temperature for a bit (maybe a minute or so?). Got the idea from a gage I saw at an RV place for bottles; said to stick it on the side of the bottle & pour hot water on it & it would change color at the "heat line." Don't need that; just feel of the tank after pouring the hot water on. Actually around here in the summer if the sun shines on the tank & you think to check it early enough before the liquid propane heats up you don't even need the hot waterl just feel the tank where the sun is shining on it.

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Old 09/04/07, 04:22 PM
In Remembrance
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: South Central Kansas
Posts: 11,076

LP tanks have both a pressure gauge and a % gauge of product in the tank.

For starters you need to determine which you are looking at. If the pressure gauge you are almost out. If the % gauge you have a ways to go depending upon the size of the tank.
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Old 09/04/07, 04:38 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Ontario
Posts: 749
Thanks, it must be 10% full then. Chris
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Old 09/04/07, 06:22 PM
KCM KCM is offline
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,133
If you think you're going to run out anyway, why not just shut everything off now and wait to relight them until you can fill it again.

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Old 09/04/07, 07:53 PM
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In Remembrance
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Alabama
Posts: 1,947
I always keep one of those tall upright tanks for emergencies. I have a 1000 gallon in the ground and if I should forget and it gets low I can always take the tall tank down and have it filled to carry me through.
What we have a failure to communicate.
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Old 09/05/07, 10:19 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 964
If you're going to run out sometime, and are worried about it, just turn them off now. (or when you're closer to empty)

Both water heater and boiler have safety shutoffs on them, if they've been made in the last 25 years or more. It the little rod that is in/next to the pilot light. The pilot light keeps it hot, and it opens the main safety valve. This is the reason that you have to turn your heater to the start position, and hold it for a minute while you light the pilot light.

Once you lose gas pressure, the pilot dies, the rod cools, and the safety valve closes. Even if gas pressure returns, the safety valve doesn't allow any propane to escape. Its a good idea to turn off the valve as well, just to make sure.

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Old 09/05/07, 01:02 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SE/SC Wisconsin
Posts: 185
The co-op that handles our LP tank charges $75 per regulator, and LP appliance, in the event of running out, an expensive motivator to keep the tank from going empty.
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Old 09/05/07, 01:03 PM
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 7,883
Last year when I was telephone price shopping for fuel, I found that a couple suppliers insisted on a leak test for my self owned tanks (two 500's)
The price was .......$ 65
Guess who I will not do business with.
Not suprising the wide range of attitudes I found.
Their loss is my gain.

Yes that 10% of a 5 hundred (50 gallons) will keep pilot's going for a long time.

Shop around for propane suppliers.
There's an awful lot of ****** greedy suppliers out there.
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Old 09/05/07, 01:17 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 2,341
I often think that those who complain about lawyers being the worst shysters must never have dealt with the average propane supply company.
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Old 09/05/07, 01:31 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: IL, right smack dab in the middle
Posts: 6,787
The gage system in a propane tank in a long lever system when you are down in the 10% range it is moving a tiny distance per percent and at a angle that doesn't afford much torque to the system.
In plain language It ain't very accurate at that point.
Is your tank absolutely level?
Is the internal working swinging free and loose? take a large rubber or wooden hammer and give that tank a few good whacks you might be surprised to see the gage drop another 2, 5 or 10 percent!
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