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Low propane and high efficiency Polaris

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dd2
dd2 Member Posts: 13
I have a 1000 lb propane tank that went below the recommended 200lbs minimum during below freezing temperatures a couple months ago. They delivered Some propane to bring it up to 300lbs. During very erratic temperatures of back and forth below freezing to 50+ degrees, my Polaris direct vent high efficiency water tank would stop heating, showing 3 flashes. (Igniter). I would unplug, wait, plug in, and it would go again. I had to do this twice within a month. When the propane went down to 200 lbs they came and filled to 400lbs. Temperatures have been more steady lately and above freezing but I have had to do the unplug and back on trick several times with the Polaris since this last propane addition. Now my trick won’t work and the water isn’t heating. I don’t think it’s the ignition as that and fan was replaced new year before. I’m wondering if it’s possible I’ve lost pressure from the propane tank when it dropped below 200lbs.? I am rural and a house call is over $500 before looking to service. I am seeking opinions in hopes of avoiding a costly service call and thank you in advance.
JWIW465

Comments

  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Member Posts: 4,043
    edited May 2020
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    I'd start with checking the gas pressure at the gas valve. For propane, it should be between 8" and 14" WC with no more than a 1.5" WC drop on ignition.
    Are you able to get and use a manometer or someone else who can?
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,428
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    Did anyone ever add any methanol? When you dropped that low you may have gotten a lot of water in there, and that's not going to help at all. Water doesn't burn well...
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
    Ironman
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    Being an old lady new to this man stuff I had to google what a nanometer was. Doing a little reading on it I’m wondering about the loop in the gas hose. I moved this loop that was dropping off to the side, to a more upward position (keeping the loop intact). Thought it looked less sloppy that way, but could doing this have an effect on the pressure?
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,379
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    Can you post some pics of the Polaris and the "loop" that you moved?

    How old is the unit?
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    Jamie, I don’t know if they did or not but when I first called I was at 200lbs and after a week waiting I noticed the tank at 100lbs and a hissing. I told them about this when I called the supplier back asking why they hadn’t delivered yet. Temps went from 20-30 degrees below zero to 40-50 above. In a matter of 2-3 days. Possible I suppose
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    Often the propane company will test your pressure and your regulators.
    Do you have 2 regulators, small red one on the tank and larger green one right at house?
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    first photo is from 2 years ago. Second from today.
    I straightened the coil where it connects to the brass. It had a slight bend in it before


  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    Jughne, No there is only the one on the tank
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    RE: water.... In Feb of 2018 the blower on the Polaris went. It was a record cold for the whole month. I went 5 weeks with no hot water including the infloor heat. Not knowing what to do while I waited for service, I kept the water flowing to prevent any freezing. But after the igniter and fan were replaced the out vent would make loud gurgling noises heard at the tank and outside from the vent. Water would drain out into the sewer as it should but it would also spit out (and high) from the little side tube by the out vent. Now yesterday when I unplugged then plugged in again there was a lot of pressure in that side tube and water spit out of there really high. The outside vent has been checked for obstructions. The gurgling only happens when there is a temperature change and usually you don't hear it when its really cold. But no matter what the temperature, if it doesn't fluctuate much, the gurgling stops. I figured as long as I was getting hot water, leave well enough alone. Now whenever it gives the 3 tries in an hour before it shuts itself down and flashes the code, you can hear the igniter hissing as it tries to go on.
  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 23,428
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    Honestly, you ran too low on propane. Where that lands I wouldn't care to say -- but you now have a possible problem with water in the propane tank, which messes up the regulator, and it also sounds as though the condensate drain in the Polaris is blocked in some way. The two problems may be related; either one will keep the poor thing from running.

    But...

    This really isn't a homeowner type of fix, even a fairly competent homeowner, and you may have to get someone competent out there to trouble shoot the system and get it going again.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
    Alan (California Radiant) Forbes Member Posts: 4,043
    edited May 2020
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    That coiled gas tube that you sent pictures of should be OK in any position. (Interesting that they put the gas valve after the gas flex.)
    You said, "the little side tube by the out vent.". That's the drain and it shouldn't be spitting with any force. It should just drip.

    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    It is the spout in the photo. The drain hose drains fine.
    I believe water in the tank. Why would it hiss when it was low at 100 lbs?
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
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    Jamie said:
    This really isn't a homeowner type of fix, even a fairly competent homeowner, and you may have to get someone competent out there to trouble shoot the system and get it going again.

    and I agree.

    What city and state do you live in?

    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 11,075
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    Why is there tape on the exhaust pipe at the tank?
    SuperTechkcopp
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    Not sure. I inherited all this from an Ex. Probably paranoid of leaks. Does look a little suffocating. Maybe he was practicing. LOL I have never seen anything leak though.
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    I live rural Montana. I couldn't find anyone within 30 miles to come in 2018 to tend to it. Same answer was they were not familiar with the Polaris. Finally found someone who was but the house call then coming back to do 10 minutes labour (I supplied the parts), cost me $1,000.
    The propane service took an extra 10 days from when they said they would be here to give me more propane. The tank running that low was not my fault so I doubt if they will admit to any wrong doing.
  • Alan (California Radiant) Forbes
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    Are you anywhere near Belgrade?

    I found PJ's Plumbing by doing a Google search, but don't know anything about them.

    http://www.pjsplumbingandheating.com/service-area
    8.33 lbs./gal. x 60 min./hr. x 20°ΔT = 10,000 BTU's/hour

    Two btu per sq ft for degree difference for a slab
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    No I'm not. I had called so many plumbers/companies and one happened to be talking about my search for someone with another person when by chance a third person overheard and said that they worked on Polaris and gave his info. I was then called with his info. (because I left my number with everyone in case they found someone for me).
    What if I was to unplug the Polaris and turn the gas valve to off. Let it sit overnight. Now don't laugh at me. But, if there was any air bubbles, etc. would the hosing from the tank outside to the water tank not fill up? Would that kinda act like a purge or whatever? for when I turn it back on?
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,613
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    I don't think you have a propane problem, but it could be. Why not google Polaris and see if they have someone in your area?

    I know it's expensive but you need a professional to come out and go through the unit
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,331
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    Hello @dd2 , It couldn't hurt to contact tech support at American Water Heaters. Here's a link: http://www.americanwaterheater.com/contact I agree with @EBEBRATT-Ed that there is likely a problem with the heater... maybe just a clogged condensate line. Please do let us know what they help you figure out!

    Yours, Larry
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    No heat, no hot water, and absolutely no money. Decreased SS pension. I'll call the service provider. With the drastic fluctuation of weather back and forth at the time, I do think it is a condensation problem. But I also recall them telling me they were late because they ran out of propane themselves and had to get it from a different supplier. Maybe it wasn't winter prepped?
    I really appreciate all input and advice and thank you so much for your time and attention.
    Stay healthy
  • Zman
    Zman Member Posts: 7,572
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    Where in MT are you? I know a couple great companies out of Bozeman but it sounds like you are not near there.
    "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough"
    Albert Einstein
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,379
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    Not to alarm you, but older Polaris' are notorious for the tank leaking down onto the ignitor. When that happens, it's time for something new.

    There are some combi boilers that do space heating and domestic that work well as a replacement.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    My last quote for a replacement was $7,000. I can't even do $700. And I'm in the middle of selling the house. Not a good time for it to go Kapoot ! If I did process of elimination and called the service company maybe they'll try putting methanol in the tank. They own it. And this problem came about when the tank went under 200 lbs. Is this an expensive job?
    BTW. Is there a way I can check to see if there is water leaking on the igniter? And would that make the blower sound a little whiny?
  • Ironman
    Ironman Member Posts: 7,379
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    You could remove the service door and look inside.
    Bob Boan
    You can choose to do what you want, but you cannot choose the consequences.
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,254
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    I agree with @Ironman it sounds like a small leak in the tank taking out the ignitor. Any water on the floor around it?

    If you know the approx. heat load, maybe a standard water heater. If you are planning on selling?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • dd2
    dd2 Member Posts: 13
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    Morning.
    I looked inside and ran a tissue all over up inside too. Bone dry.
    But then I opened the air intake at the joint where the filter is and it was covered in insulation from the attic. This time it hesitated and I thought it was going to go, but no.
    I'm going to try and take off that large bottom cap on the condenser. I'm not going to have a surprise am I? Like not being able to get the cap back on. Is this something that comes off never to fit back on again?

    EBEBRATT-ED: The guys at Polaris used to stay with you step by step to troubleshoot but since they got bought out or whatever happened, they won't say too much if you're a consumer. They'd rather you replace instead.

    Hot_Rod: I don't think a standard tank would do. There is 12 zones doing 2 floors at 2100 sq. feet on each floor. (4200) (Good thing the 1300 sq ft garage isn't hooked up). Plus this tank does whole house hot water. That's one large washing machine, a laundry sink, a double kitchen sink, a dishwasher, 2 bath tubs with showers, a jacuzzi tub, a separate shower, a bar sink and 4 bathroom sinks. But in case I need to replace it, what else should I consider knowing all this?
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,924
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    I ran into a very similar issue with a Polaris years ago, and if I'm understanding the description of the gurgling and the misfiring, the condensate drain is plugged. The small 1" gray plastic cap down low near your exhaust pipe should be removable, and is a cleanout for your condensate trap. Any junk in the burner and exhaust piping will fall into that trap and can plug it up. There should be a floor drain or similar which that drain pipe runs to, do you recall it dripping water when the unit was operating? I'd start by pulling off that aforementioned cap and verify it's obstruction free. That was the problem I ran into, but I needed to physically remove the exhaust pipe and clean out the whole works because the exhaust fan was splashing in condensate water as it was unable to escape the trap. None of this sounds like a gas problem to me, and 20% in the tank is not low enough to make it problematic. 2% maybe, but not 20. Is this for sure a 1000lb tank, or is it 1000 gallons? 1000lbs is only about 250 gallons and is extremely small for a 4200 sq ft home in MT.
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 2,467
    edited May 2020
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    Polaris had a recall on an older model. If your model # and serial # fell within a certain range, they would send you a new blower, control board, and ignitor + a few gaskets and other parts for free.

    I would call them and give them my model and serial # and see if it falls within that range.

    I have replace ignitors several time on different jobs. My first suspect is the ignitor and if that is ok than the control board.

    I would check the incoming gas pressure, at about 11" water/column. If that is ok then look at the house regulator and then the tank regulator. Moisture in the regs can freeze up. Any change in the Polaris LP pressure is done at the house regulator.

    Note! The gas shutoff valve at the Polaris should be before the CSST flex line, that's the yellow thingy. But there was a change and the tee with the drip nipple into the appliance must on the gas valve. Removing the cap on the drip nipple is a way to check for moisture in the supply line.

    Making sure the exhaust venting pipe is unobstructed is a consideration and whether you have concentric venting which may result in exhaust gas reversion. Gas reversion can do a pretty good number on the blower and combustion chamber over time. Gas reversion is the sucking of the exhaust gases back into the air intake to be re-combusted.

    Lot of good suggestion on this post by other that need checking, too.