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Old 05-26-2018, 10:32 AM   #1
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High altitude, cold weather propane issues.

I've seen a number of posts addressing this problem, but have not seen solutions. Just got back from a week in the mountains. 8600 feet in elevation. Nights down to 35 degrees, warm days (65 to 75). Furnace set at 58 degrees. Two things happen. I hear the furnace kick on in the early hours when it's coldest. The blower runs fine, but the burner kicks on and off. Sometimes it will stay lit after 2 or 3 attempts, and other times it will take as many as 10 attempts before staying lit. The second problem is the refrigerator goes on check, and takes 2 or 3 attempts to get it to re-light. It will then run all day with no problem. Cycles on and off perfectly.
My suspicions are a decrease in propane pressure. I attempted to turn up the regulator pressure. (Did not get too crazy without a manometer). Happened the same time every morning. May be two separate problems, or tied together through the propane system.
Batteries not an issue. Have 4 Golf carts, solar panels, and generator, and also an accurate voltmeter that measures amperage, and amp hours available. No problems there.
Fridge is a Norcold, and I believe furnace is a suburban. If the brand is an issue, I'll get out my books.
Have researched altitude issues, with little solutions.
Looking for your wisdom, and any possible solutions.
Full bottles.
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Old 05-26-2018, 10:50 AM   #2
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I just recently left Colorado (Denver area the last 26 years) for the warmth of the desert in southern AZ.

But in my years of RV'ing I've never had any issues with that in the mountains of Colorado.

You might try closing the LP tanks and bleeding out the lines by running the stove burners until the flame goes out.

Now...this next sentence is the most critical point:

Then, open one LP tank very slowly just enough to hear the 'click' when the gas starts flowing, then open the tank the rest of the way very slowly.

Actually, always open the LP tanks slowly like this...

Now, what I like to do is run the gas through the lines.

First I'll open one stove burner until I hear the gas come out, then light it and let it burn for a minute until you see the flame stop flickering, then open the other burners one at a time and do the same.

Once those are working I'll shut them off, then one at a time I'll start the other items...usually the water heater first, fridge second, then furnace last!

You don't need to have them all run at once, but this procedure should bleed the lines of any air or moisture that could be in there.

Hope this helps!
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Old 05-26-2018, 07:25 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnD10 View Post
I just recently left Colorado (Denver area the last 26 years) for the warmth of the desert in southern AZ.

But in my years of RV'ing I've never had any issues with that in the mountains of Colorado.

You might try closing the LP tanks and bleeding out the lines by running the stove burners until the flame goes out.

Now...this next sentence is the most critical point:

Then, open one LP tank very slowly just enough to hear the 'click' when the gas starts flowing, then open the tank the rest of the way very slowly.

Actually, always open the LP tanks slowly like this...

Now, what I like to do is run the gas through the lines.

First I'll open one stove burner until I hear the gas come out, then light it and let it burn for a minute until you see the flame stop flickering, then open the other burners one at a time and do the same.

Once those are working I'll shut them off, then one at a time I'll start the other items...usually the water heater first, fridge second, then furnace last!

You don't need to have them all run at once, but this procedure should bleed the lines of any air or moisture that could be in there.

Hope this helps!
I'll give this a try. I've been RVing in Colorado for 40 years, and have not had any issues like this. This is my 4th rig, and the first to have troubles like this. Altitude has never been an issue in the past, and the first year with this trailer, (bought new) went fine without these issues showing up till the end of last year. Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 05-27-2018, 12:35 AM   #4
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Do you drive with the fridge running on LP?

I do...maybe this could help keep the flow going when making the transition in altitude.

Just a thought.
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Old 05-27-2018, 01:31 PM   #5
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I had a similar problem in the cold weather (30s) this year. As long as my tanks were full - no problem. However, when they got down to about a third left the tank - the tank would ice up and the pressure would drop. I don't recall having this problem with other rvs, but did't want to spend the time and money trying to fix the problem. So I took the easy way out and us a:

WarmGuard WG20 Insulated Band Style Gas Cylinder Warmer - Propane Heater, Fits 20, 30 & 40lb Gas Tanks, Fixed Internal Thermostat Max Temp 90 F

Initially was planning on using heat strips 8-12 feet long but decided it could become a fire hazard so I opted for the warmguard. Worked great. Its available on Amazon.
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Old 05-27-2018, 02:26 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnD10 View Post
Do you drive with the fridge running on LP?

I do...maybe this could help keep the flow going when making the transition in altitude.

Just a thought.
Yes, I always run the Fridge on the road. Stays lit no problem. This seems to only happen middle of the night when it's colder.
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Old 05-27-2018, 02:30 PM   #7
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Not sure about these heaters, but I'll look into them. Do they work on 12 volt?
Not a help if 110 only
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Old 05-27-2018, 02:47 PM   #8
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Following to see resolution . . . .
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Old 05-27-2018, 03:14 PM   #9
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I did have high altitude issues years ago with a refer. Sometimes it would light and sometimes not. The issue is that at high altitude, propane gas can disperse faster because atmospheric pressure is lower. Then refers and water heaters can also be affected by even the slightest breeze at the propane jet. The solution is that the DSI igniter needs to be closer to the propane jet than at lower altitudes where the air is denser. The furnace may have the same issue, but harder to get access into the burner assembly to fix. A dirty propane jet can also restrict and/or interrupt the smooth flow of propane needed for reliable ignition.

The last issue with the furnace can be obstructions in the intake line for combustion air. All furnaces have a 'sail switch', but if there are spider webs, mud daubber nests or whatever inside the intake line, air flow into the combustion chamber may be to reduced too low for safe combustion. The blower will run, but air flow fluctuates and the sail switch turns on and then off, and repeats. As battery voltage drops overnight the problem may get worse. And as the blower ages with dust build up on the fan, rust on the shaft or dirty bearings, then again the issue gets worse.
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Old 05-27-2018, 03:49 PM   #10
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Not just gas pressure but the air mixture is affected by altitude. I have a friend in Utah that camps over 8000 feet and generator and propane performance are affected. I will see what he does.
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