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Propane Regulator Freezing

retiredmt
retiredmt Member Posts: 28
I'm hoping someone can lead me in the right direction for an answer. Recently it hit -38 degrees F and my underground propane tank's regulator may have been freezing (propane boiler did not shut off but was struggling). I'm trying to find out for those who use propane in the far North, what do they do to protect their regulators?

Comments

  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,331
    Do you have a second downstream regulator?
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,574
    How accurate is that reading?
  • EdTheHeaterMan
    EdTheHeaterMan Member Posts: 4,999
    I have heard that adding Butane to the mix will operate at lower temps. That is something you should asl your LP gas supplier about.
    Edward Young Retired HVAC Contractor & HYDRONICIAN Services first oil burner at age 16 P/T trainer for EH-CC.org
  • retiredmt
    retiredmt Member Posts: 28
    JUGHNE said:

    Do you have a second downstream regulator?

    Yes, but it's buried under 7 feet of snow and the propane supplier said that it was OK to be in that position. However the regulator at the tank is much more exposed to the elements.
  • retiredmt
    retiredmt Member Posts: 28
    pecmsg said:

    How accurate is that reading?

    What reading?
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,574
    Buried that tank is much warmer. 

    I believe at -30 that tank is still at 1 + PSIG
  • JUGHNE
    JUGHNE Member Posts: 10,331
    We hope that the 2nd stage reg at the house can still "breathe" thru it's vent.

    And your boiler inlet and exhaust must be above the snow level?

    I have seen rural people pour hot water on the reg to thaw out so it would function.
    (caution to not freeze the vent shut).
    Also they would cover it with some form of insulation......horse blankets....feed sacks etc.
    That would possibly let a little heat from the ground warm the reg.
  • retiredmt
    retiredmt Member Posts: 28
    JUGHNE said:

    We hope that the 2nd stage reg at the house can still "breathe" thru it's vent.

    And your boiler inlet and exhaust must be above the snow level?

    I have seen rural people pour hot water on the reg to thaw out so it would function.
    (caution to not freeze the vent shut).
    Also they would cover it with some form of insulation......horse blankets....feed sacks etc.
    That would possibly let a little heat from the ground warm the reg.

    Yep, 2nd stage can breathe; snow is very powdery (loose). Inlet and exhaust are fine, As soon as the temperature would get above -20, everything would start to work normally.
  • HomerJSmith
    HomerJSmith Member Posts: 1,927
    Having a LP regulator buried in the snow is exceedingly dangerous. There have been several buildings that have burned up in my area in the past because of a snow covered regulator. The regulator need ambient air pressure to regulate. The second stage regulator need to be covered if it can be submerged in the snow so the vent is open to the atmosphere. Dig it out if it is buried.
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,169
    Maybe put a metal box over it with some insulation in it but the vent must be allowed to breathe.
  • retiredmt
    retiredmt Member Posts: 28

    Maybe put a metal box over it with some insulation in it but the vent must be allowed to breathe.

    Where is the vent in relation to the regulator? Is it part of the regulator or separate?
    archibald tuttle
  • Dave Carpentier
    Dave Carpentier Member Posts: 414
    edited January 18
    Usually a screened circle pointing downwards on the regulator itself. At least all the one's Ive had, not sure about larger commercial ones ?

    Do us a favour and tell that cold weather to get back up into the far north !
    -38f is -39c. Friggin cold as heck. Moisture in the air starts to freeze into a weird fog. Ive had to work in it.. not fun at all. Drive a vehicle and the tires are "thud thud thud" because the flat area from being parked doesnt round out for a while..

    30+ yrs in telecom outside plant.
    Currently in building maintenance.
    CLamb
  • yellowdog
    yellowdog Member Posts: 28
    @retiredmt what do you mean by "the boiler was struggling"? was it not maintaining the house temperature at those outside temps? i would imagine that -38°F is well below your design day temp. did anyone check gas pressures when it was that cold out? that will tell you if it was a regulator issue.
  • retiredmt
    retiredmt Member Posts: 28
    yellowdog said:

    @retiredmt what do you mean by "the boiler was struggling"? was it not maintaining the house temperature at those outside temps? i would imagine that -38°F is well below your design day temp. did anyone check gas pressures when it was that cold out? that will tell you if it was a regulator issue.

    This is exactly what I was thinking. "Struggling" because as the house was cooling off and all "T" stats were calling for heat, the boiler was not able to keep up. However once it began to warm up (-20 degrees and sun was shining), everything was fine. Regarding the pressure, would I look at the pressure on the tank, or is it normal to have a pressure gauge somewhere on the system in the house? I already thought about this for future use when and IF we get this cold again.
  • retiredmt
    retiredmt Member Posts: 28

    Usually a screened circle pointing downwards on the regulator itself. At least all the one's Ive had, not sure about larger commercial ones ?

    Do us a favour and tell that cold weather to get back up into the far north !
    -38f is -39c. Friggin cold as heck. Moisture in the air starts to freeze into a weird fog. Ive had to work in it.. not fun at all. Drive a vehicle and the tires are "thud thud thud" because the flat area from being parked doesnt round out for a while..

    Yeah, I wish I could, but unfortunately I think it's here to stay. Last year we had several days of -20 F (boiler worked fine), but it continues to get colder.
  • yellowdog
    yellowdog Member Posts: 28
    @retiredmt doesnt sound like a propane delivery issue to me just undersized equipment for that cold of a day. you would need a monometer at the boiler to tell gas pressures, but it doesnt look like thats your issue.
  • pecmsg
    pecmsg Member Posts: 3,574
    retiredmt said:

    Usually a screened circle pointing downwards on the regulator itself. At least all the one's Ive had, not sure about larger commercial ones ?

    Do us a favour and tell that cold weather to get back up into the far north !
    -38f is -39c. Friggin cold as heck. Moisture in the air starts to freeze into a weird fog. Ive had to work in it.. not fun at all. Drive a vehicle and the tires are "thud thud thud" because the flat area from being parked doesnt round out for a while..

    Yeah, I wish I could, but unfortunately I think it's here to stay. Last year we had several days of -20 F (boiler worked fine), but it continues to get colder.
    You still don't size for the extremes.

    Tighten the envelope. 3M window coverings, Added insulation. Get a blower door test done, find and fix the leaks.
    My grandmother had winter curtains, much heavier. Now I know why.
  • archibald tuttle
    archibald tuttle Member Posts: 992
    yellowdog said:

    @retiredmt doesnt sound like a propane delivery issue to me just undersized equipment for that cold of a day. you would need a monometer at the boiler to tell gas pressures, but it doesnt look like thats your issue.

    agree. if you are really getting signifcant low delivery pressure the boiler flame would get squirrelly to intermittent and your safety would kick off. Possibly, if you have a modulating burner it would run fine at lower btus, but not likely to be at low modulation with those outdoor temps (albeit if you ever did experience low delivery, it might be a saving grace to be able to lock the thing on low cause some heat is better than none.

    if your propane boiler is running without locking out at 35 below, i'd put on another sweater and count my blessings!

    assume MT is that cold state of montana. Wouldn't catch me at Big Sky when it's anything below zero, but my sister sends notes about the temp this year from Bozeman.

    what is your heat "plant", i.e. boiler (or furnance?) and radiation, .e.g baseboard, floor, etc.

    brian