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Old 01-14-2019, 09:27 PM   #1
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Seneca Propane Problem

The me preface this story by saying that we are trying to survive in our Seneca in central Illinois this winter, and are supporting our propane habit with external bottles through an extend-a-stay which was successful last winter. In addition to two seasoned 30lb bottles, I also picked up two 40lb bottles but they have been used in the past. Final note is the the extra a stay is placed prior to the Senecas regulator thereby I am reliant on that regulator for the main tank or the external bottles.

Walked outside tonight to check on the bay heaters and drain the gray tank. However, when I walked past the LP tank bay I smelled propane. When I opened the bay I noticed that the regulator and tubing was completely frozen over and propane gas was visibly being released from the regulator. Initially the furnace was running but when it stopped the regulator belched out liquid propane still in its liquid form.

All I could say is “there is a new one!”

After the first shock, I shut everything off and began wondering if it was the regulator. I then realized that propane should be a gas rather than a liquid when it reaches the regulator. I decided to switch to a 30 lb tank I had full and turned everything back on. While the regulator and tubing remains frozen over, no additional gas was noticed and the belching of liquid propane has also stopped.

Realizing my understanding of applied gas laws and LP systems is not as robust as many here (ok, lets be honest, it’s rudimentary at best) I wanted to run this past all of you. Any ideas?

Is that tank bad?
Is that tank too big for some reason?
Should there be a step down regulator on the tank (thought I remember that the Seneca regulator decreased pressure to 0.4 psi)?
Have I damaged the regulator or lines by allowing LP into them?
Does anyone have ordering information on a spare /replacement regulator for the Seneca?

Thanks all for your input and advice on this one.
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Old 01-15-2019, 11:00 AM   #2
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By morning all thawed out

Went to electric heaters through the night and by morning all the pipes and regulator had thawed back out. When running the furnace in the morning no leaking gas was noted and no belching of liquid propane was noticed either. Still would like to know what is happening there.
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Old 01-15-2019, 12:34 PM   #3
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Ryan, why are you in Central Illinois this time of year? Pack up and come to Florida until it warms up. Sheeeeeesh. Lol
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Old 01-15-2019, 12:48 PM   #4
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I'm wondering if the particular tank you were connected to that you encountered the problem... was overfilled so that it was picking up liquid instead of vapor?

Was the tank on level ground? or could it have been tipped?

Last ??? What was the outside temperature when all this happened?
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Old 01-15-2019, 01:37 PM   #5
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Tank had laid flat

Mark,
We have our home in NC and I would much rather be south this time of year, but this is were the company has me for now; maybe better places next year. And to think I turned down Roswell, NM!! What was I thinking???

Steve,
Temps had been 25 degrees when it happened and the tank was definitely level when it was connected. That being said, it did ride home from being filled laying down; was upright for 4 days before being connected. Do you think that did it; will it correct itself?
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Old 01-15-2019, 05:10 PM   #6
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I am not certain this IS the cause, or just a symptom...

We have had an occasional issue with Propane bottles when they are completely full and the weather is REALLY cold. There is a space in the cylinder where the liquid turns to vapor, the tank is designed to supply propane in vapor form. Normally there is sufficient room for the vapor to be drawn out before it goes into the regulator, and if not - the lowering pressures would result in the propane evaporating... but that does not always work as well when it's really cold and there is a significant flow to the regulator - especially when it might have a little moisture in the propane - and the cold results in ice forming at the regulator.

So, when you changed to another tank, it then worked OK? or did you change back to the tank on the Seneca?
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Old 01-16-2019, 06:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark S View Post
Ryan, why are you in Central Illinois this time of year? Pack up and come to Florida until it warms up. Sheeeeeesh. Lol
I don't understand your personal circumstance, but I've got to agree. If you can, come south.

Can't help with your propane problem, other than go to a propane dealer, like where you got the tanks filled, and see what they can tell you. Please let us know what you find out.
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Old 01-17-2019, 03:15 PM   #8
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Tank on grill

Hooked tank up to our grill and it also froze the grill regulator. Definitely the tank!
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Old 01-17-2019, 04:21 PM   #9
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Saw you're wintering in Central IL. I'm not far from you on the very West Central on the Mississippi. Hope you made it through last weekends snow, we had 14 inches here, another system coming in again for this weekend also.
Just wanted to say "hi" along with our two Goldens Cooper & Boo.
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Old 01-17-2019, 04:58 PM   #10
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I'll just throw this out there, you didn't get some fork lift tanks did you? Some fork lifts and other propane vehicles run on the liquid part of LP. Also their tanks look different from standard rv tanks and usually have a gauge on them to show the tank level. Just a thought, could be something else, good luck regardless.
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Old 01-17-2019, 05:47 PM   #11
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Bill,
I am not above thinking I could have done something like that 😁. These are normal tanks and they have been used about 10 times prior. Some research suggests that tank was overfilled; I remember thinking it took a little more gas than they had in the past and the gentleman filling seemed inexperienced.
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Old 01-17-2019, 07:17 PM   #12
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Ryan,
If it IS a tank like Bill77 describes, they are known to work when the weather is warm and the propane demand is low. The liquid in the delivery tube actually ends up vaporizing when the tank is releasing the fuel, and it will vaporize into propane gas by the time it gets to the regulator.

When the outside temperature is low, the vapor pressure is too low for the liquid to flash and you end up with liquid going into the regulator. Similar with overfilled BBQ bottles.

Take a quart bowl of HOT water and pour it down the side of the offending tank. See how full the tank really is - it might just be overfilled, and you will have to find a way to purge some out.
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