Propane tank 'freezing'

ajw_in_vaJanuary 27, 2014

I am somewhat new to using propane, as we got it hooked up last fall for a cooktop and fireplace. I have a 100 lb tank that I own, which is somewhat temporary until I get a larger underground tank.

On several of the coldest nights in the past few weeks, we found that we turned on the cooktop, it burned for about 5 seconds then slowly went out. I have since found that if I go outside and pour a bit of warm water on the top of the tank and regulator, then the propane flows again and the cooktop works fine. And, once it's working, it keeps working.

I'm guessing that we've got some water in the tank or lines and the regulator is freezing. The tank was given to me after it had been sitting empty and I think open, so probably got some condensation inside. And, I didn't get it purged before filling.

At this point, my tank is still nearly full and probably won't need refilling for many months (we use it daily for the cooktop and very occasionally for the fireplace). Any suggestions for what to do in the meantime, or should I just keep with my current method on the few coldest nights? I read another post that talked about the vent possibly being frozen closed, which will keep the regulator from working properly - my tank is not covered and the photo shows how the regulator is mounted - is it possible the vent is getting frozen shut? If so, what to do?

Also, what do I need to do to get the tank purged? Do I need to run it until empty? Or should I just take it to be refilled like normal, and they'll be able to pump out the remaining gas and purge it? Is it likely the regulator will then still have water in it, and I'd need to do something with that too?

Photos of my tank and regulator:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/22283860/P1020284.small.jpg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/22283860/P1020285.small.jpg
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/22283860/P1020286.small.jpg

Thanks for any advice.

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

I haven't a clue as to the use of propane.

But I suggest, for safety's sake, you ask your questions of the supplier.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2014 at 12:56AM
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jnjfarm_gw(5a)

1. are you sure you have propane and not butane? 2. how cold is the cold night your talking about 3. is the vent on the regulator pointed down to keep out moisture? 4. is your regulator the right size for your gas needs?
propane loses pressure as it gets colder as a propane professional, I would take the regulator off and bring it inside to warm up and make sure there is no water in it. when you put it back on, make sure vent is down. If it continues to cause problems in real cold nights than slowly pour hot water over it and use up the propane. If your cold nights are not below zero than you probably have a regulator problem

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 11:29AM
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ajw_in_va

Thanks jnjfarm, take a look at my 3rd photo at the link below. This is a photo from directly above the tank, and the vent is on top of the regulator, and it doesn't have a cover. The 2nd photo (https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/22283860/P1020285.small.jpg) shows the view from the side. This regulator seems like it's supposed to be mounted like this, but tell me if you think that's incorrect.

Also, the photos with this same regulator on eBay show it with a cover over the vent: http://www.ebay.com/itm/LP-Low-Pressure-Regulator-double-stage-cavagna-524AS-/370829102791 so maybe I need to cover the vent to keep water from entering?

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 10:42PM
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jnjfarm_gw(5a)

I looked at the picture of the reg. right on the label it says cover for outdoor use

    Bookmark   February 4, 2014 at 9:59PM
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trisha_51(5 Nebraska)

when we lived in Alaska our propane tank would 'freeze' or actually gel when the temp got down to -45. We would just pour cold water on the tank and connectors to warm them up, thaw them, and we'd be good to go again.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 2:50PM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

I was house sitting a few years ago and had a similar problem--when the furnace shut off, it would not start. Since it was -25 or so out, that was kind of a problem. Ended up putting some heat tape around the regulator and that solved the problem for a few days until the dog chewed up the extension cord going to the heat tape. GFCI tripped, so dog was fine, and it warmed back up to 0 about then and tape wasn't needed any more. I think they replaced the regulator later.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 3:19AM
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