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Old 01-30-2019, 11:21 AM   #1
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No propane to appliances!

Just had tank filled last week! Getting ready for Florida! Ran furnace and warmed up motorhome! No problem! Now today it is -10 in Michigan and furnace wont light and stove wont light either! Dare I use a hair dryer on the gas valve? I turned the gas detector off and back on but burner on stove will not light! Could it be froze?
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Old 01-30-2019, 11:50 AM   #2
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Yes, the regulator could be frozen. or the solenoid valve could be stuck due to the cold. I won't tell you what to do, but it wouldn't bother me to warm them up a little with a hair dryer.
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Old 01-30-2019, 01:21 PM   #3
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After watching this AM's weather report from Michigan, Minnesota, etc there's an excellent chance that lots of Propane systems will be freezing up in that area. (-50 Wind chill in Chicago with -20 temp---- Brrrrr)

Hair dryer is good but it may only be temporary as when the propane starts flowing again the tank and regulator get colder from the liquid evaporation. The closer you get to the boil point of Propane, -44 deg F, the more chance of a system freeze if there are any variations in the LPG. We call it "Propane" but in reality it's "Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and is a mix of Propane, Butane, and other "refinery gases", each with a different boiling point.

If one travels south and happens to fill their "Propane" tank before returning home to "Deep Freeze Country" it's not unusual to see this problem when the bottom falls off the thermometer.
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Old 01-30-2019, 01:44 PM   #4
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The cold we have been getting in the upper midwest has an effect on propane to vaporize. If the temperature is -44 degrees the LP will not vaporize at all. The vaporizing of the liquid propane to a gas creates pressure. If the low ambient temperature will not let the LP to vaporize enough to create the 200+ psi needed to flow through the regulator you will have the same symptom as having no LP at all.

It doesn't take much to warm it up enough to vaporize in the tank but with the case of the LP lines being exposed the pressure will drop after the regulator sets line pressure to the 11 inches water column needed to operate the furnace, stove and water heater. In these kinds of temperatures the longer the supply line exposed the worse the effect.

Years ago we had the same problem and my dad wrapped a electric blanket around the 250 gallon LP tank then stacked straw bales around and over it.


This morning at 1am we had -25, wind at 20mph and wind chill of -50. I have a personal weather station and can watch the temperatures drop.
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Old 01-30-2019, 02:32 PM   #5
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Cold and LP

The obvious probability of freeze up is likely your problem. That said, LPG wioll not in itself freeze at temperatures likely to occur here. The problem would be moisture in the tank/lines freezing up. It doesn't take much! We had pretty much the same problem with Natural Gas in our previous home. AS we were in an old (Victorian) neighborhood, gas was still being distributed at "Standard pressure" which is in the neighborhood of 4 PSIG. Problem was, there was a leak in the gas main at a junction. And, when ground water leaked into the manhole, and became deep enough to overcome the low line pressure, the water leaked into the gas main. When the gas man came out, and removed the inlet line to the meter, he found that it was nearly totally blocked with ice! For a short term fix, they hooked up a rack of gas bottles, regulated to the proper pressure, and sat it in our front yard. The following spring, all over our side of town, they were replacing gas lines with the new yellow plastic line, which was sized to fit inside the old iron pipes. Very interesting process! Pressure regulators had to be installed at every house then, of course. Line pressure was then in the area of 75 pounds.

LPG tanks on the other hand will never reach 200 pounds. Typical pressure is more on the order of 75-100. In permanent installations, they install a red colored regulator, which reduces tank pressure to 10 PSIG, which in turn feeds the regulator(s) to drop it to 11 inches. This is done to allow use of smaller pipe from the tank to the house. We had this when we lived out off the gas lines.

In trouble shooting, I believe I would start by taking the copper line feeding the RV loose at the regulator, then "crack" the tank valve slightly, and look for leaks. If this point is clear, tighten the line again, and check at the first appliance, typically the stove. If I were doing it, and found no output at the appliance, I would take this line off, and likewise the line from the regulator, then connect one end to the air compressor, and heat up the line in between till the ice was melted out of the low spot in the line.
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Old 01-30-2019, 05:02 PM   #6
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COLD and PROPANE

First I acknowledge that propane is not necessarily PURE, but YOU DO NOT NEED and probably do not WANT 200 psi to use propane.

AND your appliances require about 6 psi 11-13 in hg past your regulator to function.

These are some rules of thumb.
Propane pressures are temperature related.
Propane in the tank is liquid. It boils at -44 degrees F. or C since the scales cross about there. It has to boil to produce the vapor that we use

at 0 degrees F, pressure = 37 psi
at 50 degrees F, pressure = 86 psi
at 80 degrees F, pressure rises to 140 psi
at 110 degrees F, pressure elevates to 220 psi.

The latter is why you will smell a trace of propane in hot days in the desert. That much pressure will often find leaks, in fittings or pressure blow off valves.

To the issue of FREEZE. My propane guys says that water is an impurity in most new tanks that are not initially PURGED well and an impurity in SOME "propane" supplies. Otherwise he says that above about -30F it is just, in his opinion, a matter of the regulator "freezing up" either related to the moisture in propane or mechanical imperfections. The one tank I had freeze was then PURGED by a skilled propane guy and has never been a problem since. Good Luck back east this year. I can't stand it when it gets below 50.
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Old 01-30-2019, 05:13 PM   #7
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Just had tank filled last week! Getting ready for Florida! Ran furnace and warmed up motorhome! No problem! Now today it is -10 in Michigan and furnace wont light and stove wont light either! Dare I use a hair dryer on the gas valve? I turned the gas detector off and back on but burner on stove will not light! Could it be froze?
All this worry about FREEZING, it just dawned on me???? Any chance you filled it last week, tested the furnace and then left the furnace on and you are just out of propane AGAIN?
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Old 01-30-2019, 05:41 PM   #8
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I just checked and the gauge reads full! I know I only ran the furnace for about 4 hours, the other day! I think when you run out of propane the furnace fan would continue to run until you shut it off! It was not running when I went out to turn it on!
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Old 01-30-2019, 05:45 PM   #9
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I thank you all for any ideas you have given me! I will let you know what I find when I get it going! Might be a little cold on the ride to Florida until I get to warmer weather!
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:03 PM   #10
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It's not that LP freezes, it looses the ability to readily vaporize. By nature, LP contains wax (paraffin wax is a byproduct of propane) and water. If enough water collects in a low point it will block the line. This is why many LP gas line installers will place a "T" in the gas line with a 6" to 8" capped pipe hanging down to collect the water. I have never seen such a pipe installed on a RV.

Propane (LPG) is stored under pressure, as a liquid, in a propane tank. It turns back into a gas by 'boiling' into gas vapor. This happens at the very low temperature of -43.6F (-42C), but well above the liquid propane (LPG) freezing point of -306.4F (-188 C).


Quote from gmann55 "I think when you run out of propane the furnace fan would continue to run until you shut it off! It was not running when I went out to turn it on!"

No, once the flame sensor on the furnace quits detecting the flame it will shut down the furnace and will not restart until you reset it by turning it off then on.
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:03 PM   #11
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Getting ready to go ourselves in this brutal cold. Filled the tanks and ran the stove for a while to purge the lines. Took the Honeywell digital thermostat in the house for the winter. So put new batteries in it and take it out to the trailer. Great furnace starts up. Go back out to check and it's not running. Digital thermostat says low and won't call for heat. Ran an electric heater pointed to the thermostat till it stops ready low and heat comes on. Furnace makes a funny buzzing noise. Hmmm. Shut furnace off and run the electric heater and an ice fishing propane buddy heater till trailer interior is up to 43 F and now it all works great. Fun. Taking the buddy heater along just in case.

So I am thinking of all these posts in the past about running the fridge while driving. So I won't worry about the fridge being on. Or do I need to run a heater in the fridge as it colder than a freezer. J.k. Don't answer that.
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:28 PM   #12
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Hot Air Balloons use heat tapes for the propane tanks. Propane looses pressure with temperatures below 50 degrees and hot air balloon burners need a lot of pressure. So they heat the tanks based on low temperatures. So in the winter when temps get below 20 degrees it may take 5 or 6 hours with heat tapes to heat the tanks enough to fly. So far I have been in 8 to 10 degree weather and my propane on the trailer has not had issues.
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Old 01-30-2019, 09:40 PM   #13
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Hot Air Balloons use heat tapes for the propane tanks. Propane looses pressure with temperatures below 50 degrees and hot air balloon burners need a lot of pressure. So they heat the tanks based on low temperatures. So in the winter when temps get below 20 degrees it may take 5 or 6 hours with heat tapes to heat the tanks enough to fly. So far I have been in 8 to 10 degree weather and my propane on the trailer has not had issues.

Ones having problems with propane are talking about daytime temperatures in the range of -10F to nighttime temperatures of -30F and lower.

Right now I'm at -18, wind at 2mph and -24 wind chill. This morning at 1AM it was -24F, wind at 25 and wind chill of -50F.

Many businesses, factories and school will be shut until Thursday or Friday. Power companies are asking people to cut down on usage as the wires become brittle at these temperatures and can break from the 25 to 30 mph winds.

To make it short, it's freaking cold here in the upper midwest states.


As someone said yesterday "Where is the global waming when you need it?" His words, not mine.
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Old 01-31-2019, 01:16 AM   #14
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So scrapper, you are saying that if the furnace was working good and I were to turn the gas off, the fan would quite blowing once it cooled off? Not questioning you, just trying to get my head straight as to how this thing works! Thanks!
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:01 AM   #15
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Just had tank filled last week! Getting ready for Florida! Ran furnace and warmed up motorhome! No problem! Now today it is -10 in Michigan and furnace wont light and stove wont light either! Dare I use a hair dryer on the gas valve? I turned the gas detector off and back on but burner on stove will not light! Could it be froze?
Don't you wish you would have left last week !!!
It may get to 50 next Wednesday,,,
Or head south, and maybe things will thaw on the way ???
- 17 last night !!!
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:35 AM   #16
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So scrapper, you are saying that if the furnace was working good and I were to turn the gas off, the fan would quite blowing once it cooled off? Not questioning you, just trying to get my head straight as to how this thing works! Thanks!
both the water heater and the furnace will shut down when the supply gas is cut off and the furnace cools down the fan shuts off and the same if trying to light if no gas in a limited time it shuts down
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Old 01-31-2019, 08:56 AM   #17
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Here's another thought to pursue. I have an aftermarket digital thermostat in my TT. This past week we went to use it in the driveway where I have it connected to power, and we discovered it WON'T turn on the furnace if the temperature is below 32 degrees.

Ours is a home thermostat, not designed for RV's so I can only assume that may be a safety feature for water heat systems that might be frozen up. At any rate, we have to warm the thermostat to above freezing to get it to turn on,,,
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Old 01-31-2019, 09:38 AM   #18
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So scrapper, you are saying that if the furnace was working good and I were to turn the gas off, the fan would quite blowing once it cooled off? Not questioning you, just trying to get my head straight as to how this thing works! Thanks!

No, if you run out of gas or turn off the tanks the fan will remain running and furnace will try to re-ignite 3 times then go into lock-out.

The way a furnace works in conjunction with the thermostat is this.

When thermostat calls for heat, a switch closes and the fan starts, the air from the fan pushes a flap, called the sail which then closes a switch (sail switch) inside the furnace housing, this switch tells the control board that there is air flowing through the furnace. The control board then opens a valve in the gas line where it connects to the furnace, at the same time the board activates the igniter, then you will hear snapping coming from the furnace. When the gas ignites the flame heats up the flame sensor, which is part of the igniter sends a small voltage back to the control board telling it all is normal and the furnace continues to run until the setting on the thermostat is reached.

There are several things that could stop the process from happening.

1) The furnace control board and fan is powered from the 12vdc battery. Low battery voltage can prevent the fan from turning fast enough to close the sail switch. If this happens the fan will be running but the control board won't open the gas valve or activate the igniter.

2) No gas in the tanks or tanks shut off - the fan will spin, the control board will open the valve and turn on the igniter. The control board tries to light the flame and you will hear 3 to 5 snaps. The fan continues to run and after about 10 to 15 seconds the igniter tries again. This will happen 3 consecutive times then the control board goes into lockout after 1 to 2 minutes. You will need to turn the thermostat to off then on to reset this process.

3) The gas supply runs out while the furnace is running. - The flame sensor cools down and stops sending the voltage to the control board, the control board shuts the gas valve. In this case the fan will continue to run because the temperature setting on the thermostat has not been reached. I believe after a couple of minutes the control board will try to re-light the furnace 3 times then go into lock-out.


4) A bad control board or flame sensor/igniter could be the cause of problems, too.

If you have a Suburban furnace the attached service manual starting at pg #23 will help you understand the process.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Suburban Furnace Service Manual.pdf (4.92 MB, 17 views)
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Old 01-31-2019, 10:07 AM   #19
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Go to amazon and buy a WarmGuard 20 sleeve for your tanks
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Old 01-31-2019, 10:26 AM   #20
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Go to amazon and buy a WarmGuard 20 sleeve for your tanks
Amazon says the WarmGuard is unavailable but do list this one...

Powerblanket PBL20 Gas Cylinder Heater (Propane), 20-30-40 lb, Charcoal Gray

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