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Old 11-16-2014, 09:23 PM   #1
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Faulty Propane Gauge?

Went to a camp site this weekend and the temperature dropped into the low 20s. I have two 30 lb tanks. One was somewhat used up already and the other was still full and unused. We emptied the low tank.

I switched the regulator over to the full tank I couldn't get it do do anything. I opened the tank very slowly so I don't think it was the safety feature kicking in to restrict the flow.

I do have gauges that show the level of the tanks. Those happen to not be all that functional. They really just go from "green" to "red" very quickly and frankly you could just pick up the tank to identify "empty" without a gauge. The full tank was showing "red" as if empty. I closed the tank, removed the gauge, reconnected my propane line, and then slowly opened the full tank again. This time, my stove and fridge had no issue turning on.

Question --- Should I assume that the not so useful gauge also managed to somehow freeze up in some way such that I couldn't get anything out of the full tank? It seems to be the thing that was stopping the flow because 1) it was reading empty and 2) once I removed it from the equation the tank worked fine. BUT... how does that happen? Propane doesn't really freeze unless the temperature drops below the coldest of ice age temps. Some frozen water vapor / moisture in the gauge somehow??? Could that have been the issue?

I'm back to working normally but just trying to understand what could really have caused the problem.
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Old 11-16-2014, 10:00 PM   #2
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It could have been the safety valve on the tank. Or the safety in the pig tail. Either way, once you disconnected everything to remove the gauge, all the valves should have reset. So it may not be the gauge at all...
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Old 11-16-2014, 10:06 PM   #3
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If you change tanks just when you can tell they are running out it usually doesn't cause a problem. When you change after the lines have totally emptied the valve on the tank can sense a leak and close even if you open it slowly.
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Old 11-16-2014, 10:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Camper_bob View Post
It could have been the safety valve on the tank. Or the safety in the pig tail. Either way, once you disconnected everything to remove the gauge, all the valves should have reset. So it may not be the gauge at all...
Interesting. When I get that second tank refilled maybe I will put the gauges back on just to see if everything is back to normal. I must have ran out of propane in the middle of the night and didn't realize it. My space heaters were keeping the rig warm and the only thing that might have been using propane was the water heater because it had been left on overnight. Kind of a waste of propane. We just forgot to shut it off.
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Old 11-17-2014, 07:18 PM   #5
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I have a gauge on my RV tank, as well as one home on my patio grill. Both worked well over the Summer. This was the first year I used them.

The temp is now at about 30F. The patio grill is away for the Winter, but we're still using the RV. This weekend the gauge was in the red when I connected the tank, and stayed there all weekend. It had 18 lbs of gas Friday, and 6 lbs Sunday night. I know that because I also have a scale and weigh them.

My guess is that the gauges don't work in the cold, or they are now broken. I'll know for sure in the Spring. In any event, it was a bad purchase because if they don't work for Winter camping they are useless.
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Old 11-17-2014, 10:32 PM   #6
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Does a faulty guage leak? I am having a heater which was recently repaired but it works fine during the day when its warm but once it get cool the heater won't kick on. Could it be my guage freezing up? I smell gas at another area of the trailer not the heater area. After reading your posts I'm thinking I might have a guage problem.
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Old 11-18-2014, 09:53 AM   #7
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Are you sure the dealer put propane in the tank? Some sell butane which freezes at or near 32.
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