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Hawg

Is there a home test for a regulator?

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Over the last 30 years of ice fishing I've changed out many regulators on my fish house furnace for what I always assumed was from freezing up. I would bring them home, dry them out, and keep them for spares. Problem is I never quite trusted them 100%. I have about 10-12 of them now I think are probably good but not sure. Research says that regulators go bad because of a diaphragm and you check them with a manometer, but I don't have one of those. Are there any tests a person can do at home to check them? I change out the pilot orifice every year because I've been told Minnesota has no regulation on cleanliness for propane, plus orifices are cheap and its reassuring when miles from home for a few days in the fish house. Like many on here I'm retired now on a fixed income, and it aint fixed very high! What do you guys think about trusting them and testing them?

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I looked it up.   A home regulator is supposed to regulate to 11 inches of water.   So you could easily make a home made manometer to measure the output using compressed air on the input.   run the output to a container of water with a tube extending below the surface that is sealed except for the tube.   then you measure how high up the tube the output of the regulator will push the water.  

 

I know that's not a very good explanation, but you could look up how to make a manometer.   11 inches is not very much pressure so sealing stuff up should be not too hard.   A little silicone would do it.  

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Thanks D. Anybody know IF a manometer reads at 11 like it should is there anything that can make a regulator work for a while and then go bad? My reasoning is telling me that if I can light the furnace with one of my suspect regulators and both the pilot and flame look right then I could assume the diaphragm is good. I borrowed a clean & dry one to a friend a week or so ago and it worked about 3 hours and quit which is giving me less confidence than I should have in it as a spare. I have to believe it has to be moisture in his tank or something besides the regulator. If the regulator goes to 11, is that the extent of the regulators job and the problem SHOULD be elsewhere? I'm going to build one of these or borrow one from someone but does the rest of my reasoning sound right? If it reads high or low it doesn't work but if it reads 11 it does?

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This is interesting stuff. I have to say that after 20 some years of owning multiple RVs and fish houses I don't ever remember having a propane regulator problem.

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IMO you would have two things that can affect regulator output.

Cleanliness of the regulator (orifice)

and temperature (causing the diaphragm {age} to be stiff and not allowing flow along with the propane not vaporizing to a gas as easily{tank size can also come into play here})  

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I’m haven’t random unexplained issues with our 2016 fish house.  I can’t find any kinks or restrictions and it only happens when we’re fishing.

 

We get low pressure and the furnace cuts out.  We can light a burner on the stove and watch the pressure drop until it won’t stay lit either.  Changed tanks, messed with the valve, etc.  The last time I kept it running by having both 30’s opened (house came with 20’s).  I’m hoping it’s a bad prime on the tanks from the last fill. There’s plenty left in em.

 

First Time problem for me too.

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2 hours ago, Hawg said:

Thanks D. Anybody know IF a manometer reads at 11 like it should is there anything that can make a regulator work for a while and then go bad? My reasoning is telling me that if I can light the furnace with one of my suspect regulators and both the pilot and flame look right then I could assume the diaphragm is good. I borrowed a clean & dry one to a friend a week or so ago and it worked about 3 hours and quit which is giving me less confidence than I should have in it as a spare. I have to believe it has to be moisture in his tank or something besides the regulator. If the regulator goes to 11, is that the extent of the regulators job and the problem SHOULD be elsewhere? I'm going to build one of these or borrow one from someone but does the rest of my reasoning sound right? If it reads high or low it doesn't work but if it reads 11 it does?

Most you should be able to adjust the regulator flow. I would test it in the same condition your operating them in.

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4 hours ago, Wanderer said:

I’m haven’t random unexplained issues with our 2016 fish house.  I can’t find any kinks or restrictions and it only happens when we’re fishing.

 

We get low pressure and the furnace cuts out.  We can light a burner on the stove and watch the pressure drop until it won’t stay lit either.  Changed tanks, messed with the valve, etc.  The last time I kept it running by having both 30’s opened (house came with 20’s).  I’m hoping it’s a bad prime on the tanks from the last fill. There’s plenty left in em.

 

First Time problem for me too.

As I understand it, a tank of a given size will/can only supply propane at some rate that depends on the temperature, and the amount of propane in the tank.  

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They should all produce enough pressure when they’re over 20% full at the temps I’ve been fishing in.  But yeah, pressure and temperature are ALWAYS related.

 

I wouldn’t be shocked if any of the previous conditions mentioned weren’t a problem but I’m starting with the tank and a fresh refill tomorrow.

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6 hours ago, Wanderer said:

I’m haven’t random unexplained issues with our 2016 fish house.  I can’t find any kinks or restrictions and it only happens when we’re fishing.

 

We get low pressure and the furnace cuts out.  We can light a burner on the stove and watch the pressure drop until it won’t stay lit either.  Changed tanks, messed with the valve, etc.  The last time I kept it running by having both 30’s opened (house came with 20’s).  I’m hoping it’s a bad prime on the tanks from the last fill. There’s plenty left in em.

 

First Time problem for me too.

 

I had a problem like that with a grill. Replaced regulator and connection hose for $8.99. Problem fixed. It's the only problem I've ever had with a regulator. 

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I see some people use those magnetic heaters like you put on an engine block to keep the propane tanks warm. I’ve always wondered if that heater on the tank and the cold air wouldn’t cause condensation inside that tank what do you think. Is there any moisture inside of a propane tank that could cause the condensation

Edited by Hawg

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  Tanks are too small and when it gets cold they don't produce enough pressure. 

The guys using 100 lb propane tanks see a lot less problems. 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Hawg said:

I see some people use those magnetic heaters like you put on an engine block to keep the propane tanks warm. I’ve always wondered if that heater on the tank and the cold air wouldn’t cause condensation inside that tank what do you think. Is there any moisture inside of a propane tank that could cause the condensation

 

There are heaters available and that would bring up the pressure with the temp.  There shouldn’t be any moisture inside if the tank has been handled properly.  LP boils at something like -40 degrees F in order to produce the gas for burning.

 

When a tank is filled it should be purged first.  That’s when your O2 and moisture would be eliminated if it somehow got in the tank.  As long as you have SOME pressure, O2 and H2O shouldn’t be able to get in unless pumped in by mistake.

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Sounds like an orifice issue or frozen water (condensate) in the line, since there is enough pressure to get started, but not enough volume to maintain operation.  After checking the orifices, one on the leading side of the regulator and one in the heater.  Then with the house heated up, i.e. in heated garage or this spring, disconnect the line on both ends and blow out with compressed air.  

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22 hours ago, Wanderer said:

I’m haven’t random unexplained issues with our 2016 fish house.  I can’t find any kinks or restrictions and it only happens when we’re fishing.

 

We get low pressure and the furnace cuts out.  We can light a burner on the stove and watch the pressure drop until it won’t stay lit either.  Changed tanks, messed with the valve, etc.  The last time I kept it running by having both 30’s opened (house came with 20’s).  I’m hoping it’s a bad prime on the tanks from the last fill. There’s plenty left in em.

 

First Time problem for me too.

What brand of fish house?

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Haha!  We don’t have to play the guessing game.  I think I was just annoying Hawg a little too much.  

 

True North is the one I was referring to.  I think I have the issue handled.  The tank I was worried about has been emptied and refilled and I haven’t had any more issues.

 

I sold the other shack a week ago. ;)

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You need to try harder than that to annoy me, I enjoy the bantering. There’s so few on here anymore we only have each other to play with. 

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