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Thread: AHH! Heater Cycling & That's ALL!?!

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member justin2006's Avatar
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    Exclamation AHH! Heater Cycling & That's ALL!?!

    Hi,

    It's 3:15am and got a big snowfall the past 2 days, and it is now -12F outside. I have PROPANE (tank has 55%) and my heater is cycling on/off, but not going FULL ON. Please see the youtube video showing what is happening:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mwKgFS14cU



    This happened a few years ago, and back then, I went outside and pushed off all the snow on the tank and the valves, and this somehow solved the problem. I did the same this time, but it didn't work - but it's a lot colder outside this time. The valves have a "cover" over them, but I noticed some ice crystals on one of them -- I really don't know what I'm looking at.

    Last time I asked my propane company what might cause it, and he said "maybe some water got in the valve and froze up" (or he said something like that). I don't have any heat tape to wrap around the control valves on the tank; I'll try to see if I can hook up a low wattage light bulb.

    Any other ideas or help?!?
    Last edited by Terry; 02-11-2011 at 01:40 PM.

  2. #2
    DIY Junior Member justin2006's Avatar
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    I went back outside and rigged up a low-wattage light bulb + added a tarp. There are ice crystals on the "control valve"(??) that has the gas line to the house, so it seems that is frozen up. Sure hope this works... (Natural Gas is finally available in my area... guess I should eat the costs and switch.)

    BTW, my propane tank is 500 gallons, and I have 55%.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member justin2006's Avatar
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    Ah ha!

    It took the light bulb / tarp only a few minutes to do their magic. At 3:42am the heater has fully cycled-on and is now heating the house once again.

    I'm going to contact the propane company tomorrow to see what they say -- I don't want this happening again this winter -- anything I should bring up? I should have made them do something 5 or 6 years ago, but it's only happened twice now, but that is enough for me...

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member justin2006's Avatar
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    It dipped down to -16F in the early morning hours, and the high today is expected to be a toasty 13F (but -26F if you include wind chill).

    I'll keep the light-bulb going and will see what the propane company says -- doubt they could get out here before next week anyway.

  5. #5
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Don't know much about propane. Had a gas grill using it, and remember it was sometimes a bear to light in the winter (yes, I grilled in the winter, even in a snowstorm!). But, switched to NG, and it lights fine, regardless of the temp. Propane needs some heat to vaporize...burners don't work well, if at all, with liquid. So, a little heat may be the ticket as you seem to have found. When propane vaporizes from liquid to gas, it absorbs heat and therefore cools things around it, so if there was any moisture around, even if it didn't normally freeze, it could while the propane cooled it when turning into gas.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member justin2006's Avatar
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    I spoke with the propane company today and they are going to try to get out here on Friday to inject something into the tank. He told me what, but now I forget. I'm going to ask the guy that shows up if the regulator should also be replaced (I think the regulator is what froze up).

    I still have the low-wattage light-bulb going, but it will be warmer tonight (7F), so I'm not expecting any issues.

    Also, there is a specific heat-tape for propane tanks. Apparently shouldn't use just any regular heat-tape. I don't have the proper heat-tape, so I'm sticking with a light-bulb for now.

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