propane tank keeps freezing

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Sparticle, Feb 11, 2008.

  1. Sparticle

    Sparticle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    my stove is hook to a propane tank outside. it froze up 3 times today. we get the ice off of it by pouring room temp water on it. we wrapped the lines and the top in insulation and then plastic today. it just froze again. it's not the end of the world being without a stove, i have a woodstove and toaster oven. i'm just wondering what I can do temporarily till we can get a little house built around it. When we bought the tank, the guy at the hardware store said it wouldn't freeze.
     
  2. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have little experience, but - I don't think you want a house around a propane tank, they need to be in the open to vent vapors (not often, but it only takes once....) to free air, not in an enclosed space!!!!!! I'd want to be real sure on that before enclosing it!

    What size tank is this? As the propane changes from liquid to air, it creates cold. If you have a very small tank with a pretty big draw on it, the small surface area of the tank might be causing a rapid vaporizing and serious chilling of the tank valve.

    Insulating the lines - is it the lines that are freezing???? Typically think it is only the valve on the tank, the lines don't give much trouble?

    Others will know a lot more about propane, & will correct my babbling. But knowing the size tank you have & the load on it (what size stove, you running everything on hi?) will help figure it out some.

    --->Paul
     

  3. tamsam

    tamsam Well-Known Member

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    Where is it freezing? It it is the regulator you have water in it. There is a small hole in of the points of the reg. I hope you know what I am saying. That hole needs to be down so no water can get in it. If it is up then you will need to take the reg off bring it in and get it dried out. Then when you put it back on check it really good to make sure it isn't leaking, this is to be sure the diafram [sp] isn't broken. Hope this helps. Sam
     
  4. L.A.

    L.A. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Propane freezes at -310, so I think your problem is else where. Make sure the 2nd regulator is above the snow.
     
  5. neolady

    neolady Well-Known Member

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    IThe regulator is your source or problem.

    gave up on propane - after I spent/wasted about $8,000 on a high efficiency propane furnace and hot water tank. We absolutely cannot stop the regulators from freezing up here. We live directly on the sea coast and the regulators would freeze EVERY SINGLE TIME that there was moisture in any form - rain, snow, fog, blowing snow, etc. and the temperature was within a few degrees of freezing either direction (reminded me of the carburetor that used to ice up on my 1984 Ford pickup - did the same thing under the same conditions!!!). Every time we went away at Christmas, or for a day, the system would freeze up and so did the house and pipes. We would come home from work and the system had shut down yet again on many many days.

    It became far more trouble (and liability) than it was worth. The regulators were replaced on such a regular basis by the propane company that they finally refused to replace them any longer. We switched propane suppliers and the same thing would happen with their regulators Every morning - freezing our a**es off in the house it was a trip outside to the regulator, squirt "Frost Buster" (an alcohol type product for car windshields) into the regulator to thaw it out and finally we would get the water and furnace started again.

    We finally took a five gallon plastic pail, cut it up both sides so that it would slip over the propane line and the regulator, and that at least helped us some of the time - but not all of it.

    I finally ran into a propane installer when I was teaching LPG one weekend at fire school and he told me that the problem would never be solved in this type of climate and in the specific location where I live. So - I have had an expensive propane furnace sitting doing nothing for about 1.5 decades. The only thing that has salvaged the situation at all was by installing an electric plenum heater into it which at least supplies us with backup heat.

    The comment about covering the tank with a shed is valid - don't do it. Propane must have open air ventilation for disbursement when being filled and in case of any leakage - to cover it opens the possibility of one heck of an explosion if things go wrong.
     
  6. greeneyedgirl70

    greeneyedgirl70 Well-Known Member

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    when you use the propane it has to vaporize and it causes it to get cold and will cause ice. you are trying to draw more than it can produce causing it to freeze up, most the time when this happens is when your tank begins to get low. you may need to get another tank the same size and run them together or get a larger tank that holds more. its got nothing to do with the weather i have seen them ice over in the summer time when they get low.
     
  7. Bonnie L

    Bonnie L Well-Known Member

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    We've had a propane stove ever since we moved here 8 years ago & it's never frozen, even with below zero temperatures. What are we doing right? :shrug:
     
  8. Sparticle

    Sparticle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    wow, thanks for all the great info. i have a lot to read and process. when i say the lines freeze, i mean i turn on the burner and it does light or it'll light and then dim and go out in a few seconds. so when we pour room temp water on it, that stops. we don't really know what is freezing. so we just wrapped up everything that was exposed and covered that with a trash bag to keep it from getting wet. there has been a good bit of precipitation lately. I'll have to read through all this and figure out the parts and try to understand what to do. That'll have to wait till morn, thank you!! I knew someone would know what was going on.

    as far as the load, just a stove top and usually 2 burners on medium to low 2ce a day normally. not a big load I would think. Tank size, not sure, I'll have to ask. it's about shoulder high and 2 ft in diameter. (guessing)


    :grouphug:
     
  9. sueacurrin

    sueacurrin Well-Known Member

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    Have the gas company come out and do a pressure test. take the bags off. they need to do a pressure test quick..... You can take the bags off and tap the reagulator with a hammer, note I said tap it to get you through the night, but a pressure test is what is needed to fix this.
     
  10. tamsam

    tamsam Well-Known Member

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    It sounds like you have a 100lb tank and that is what we use. We run a wall heater and we have never had it freeze up. It has worked in 6 below temps and when raining around freezing, I was told to make sure the hole I was talking about had to be down or I would have a problem with it freezing up. Good luck getting it fixed. You didn't say where you are pouring the water to thaw it up. Sam
     
  11. Carolyn

    Carolyn Well-Known Member

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    We have had propane for 26 years in NW North Dakota and never had it freeze up. We just had -25 actual temp with wind chill -50 and it didn't freeze. We have a 500 gallon tank and by law has to be set at 25 ft from the house. I can't remember how far the 1000 gallon was away fom the house. Hope you get an answer. Carolyn
     
  12. Sandra Nelson

    Sandra Nelson Well-Known Member

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    I have lived in Minnesota all my life. On occasion we have had temps of -45 degrees without factoring in windchill. At those temps there is no gaseous phase in the propane tank large enough to do any good. The propane remains largely in the liquid state. Needless to say, at that point your propane appliances and furnaces do not work until it warms up to above -40. I'm glad it doesn't happen very often, but I have learned to keep alternative heating and cooking methods available ( read wood) just for this reason.
     
  13. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Have you checked the little hole to see that it is open & clear on the regulator? For all we know you wrapped it shut with the plastic & tape you put on it. Get all that junk off of there!

    The water might be dripping to the bottom of the regulator & plugging the little vent hole with an ice drip.

    Your 100 lb tank doesn't have a lot of surface area inside it. It has propane under pressure inside of it, enough pressure to keep the propane in a liquid form. The top of the tank is a vapor of propane. Most house appliances use this vapor in them. So thepipes going to your house are carrying a vapor, not a liquid.

    As you draw off & use some vapor, more forms. The liquid propane gets a little less pressure as you use some vapor, and this lower pressure allows more liquid to convert into vapor.

    Doing that takes some heat tho.

    In cold weather or damp cool weather, this can cause ice to form around the regulator - which can plug up the little hole. That regulator can get very, very cold in the right conditions. Much colder than the temps around it are.

    That little vent hole allows your regulator to work. The regulator is just a pressure switch - it needs to know what the outside air pressure is - if the little hole is closed up tight, it doesn't know how to regulate any more & might shut down.

    In cold weather, or when a tank is very close to empty, it is harder for the liquid propane to turn into a vapor. The more surface area it has, the easier it is.

    Your 100 lb tank only has a small round area of liquid propane exposed tot he top. That is why I asked how big the tank is, and how much you are using. Those big 500 gallon tanks that are on their side have a big area of liquid propane on top, so it is easy to get a lot of vapor to form in a hurry. Your tank is designed to be upright, and only supply so much vapored propane at a time.

    But your burner should work ok with that size tank.

    Either you are low on propane, or you have the little vent hole plugged with icewater or a wasp nest, or a combination of cold, damp weather is just right to cause the regulator to ice up and cool down too much to work.

    Do not build an enclosure for the tank, and get the plastic & junk off of it that you put on. It is dangerous and not doing you any good.

    Again, I don't know that much about propane, but this is close to the basics.

    Please be careful.

    http://www.propane101.com/regulatordetails.htm

    --->Paul
     
  14. Sparticle

    Sparticle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    well it was too cold to get out there last night and mess with it. this morning after getting all my chores done, i'm almost 30 min late for work. so hopefully i can get out there and look at this thing this afternoon. when i poured water on it to get it going again, i poured up at the top. There is no gas company person that could come out. we take the tank in and get it filled. thank you thank you!
     
  15. fantasymaker

    fantasymaker Well-Known Member

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    It could be water in the lines next time you have the tank filled ask them to put some dryer in it,"Dryer" is simply alcohol that helps absorb the water and then is moved on along thru the system in a small enough molecule to pass thru the system
     
  16. Batt

    Batt In Remembrance Supporter

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    Just checked with my DF who is an old time propane distributer and attended extensive classes about propane at University of Missouri School of Mining.. He says that most likely there is a little water in the tank or high pressure line to the regulator. By a little water he said just 1 drop will do it. If the tank had been left empty and the valve open it could very easily have condensed water inside the tank and this will be a problem until it is taken care of. As FM stated you need to add a "Dryer" to the tank. When the tank is empty it can be poured in, but if it is pressurized, it will have to be pumped in.
     
  17. DaynaJ

    DaynaJ Well-Known Member

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    GoodMorning Adron!! Are you ok down the hill? We're alright. My daughter cld last night, they had no utilities. Her, husband, & 3 children all bundled up in the king size bed. didn't get much sleep. Utilities came back on this a.m. Robert is doing pretty good. He's not gotten to go to the dr yet so we haven't seen his foot. Will be going tomorrow, Wed. if weather cooperates. You two take care, holler if you need anything from Bolivar tomorrow. Hugs, Dayna. :hobbyhors
     
  18. Sparticle

    Sparticle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    OK, read through everything again and I think I've got a game plan. get all the stuff off the tank and check to see if I can find a hole on the regulator. I don't know what the regulator is, but i'm assuming it's going to be obvious when i go look at it. I really appreciate so much all this info guys.

    on a sad note, house right down the street burned down last night. i saw it today, just horrible. poor things were probably just trying to stay warm. it was a big 100+ years old house, very pretty but probably very drafty. I hope they are somewhere warm today. :Bawling:
     
  19. Sparticle

    Sparticle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    pulled all of the wrapping off, there is still some insulation frozen to the side, but it's not touching anything important. I don't see a little hole anywhere. Here are pictures, sorry they are fuzzy. Is there something else i should take a picture of that would help? based on the frost line, looks like the tank is 3/4 full.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. sammyd

    sammyd Well-Known Member

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    Good luck with that tank.
    It's pretty small, and if you have any load on it it will freeze up.
    I've frozen up 50 pounders of freon on a summer day.
    Our BBQ tank will not put out enough when it's just barely below freezing.
    I don't think it's any problem with wetness or regulators, just the tank itself.