Propane Problem - Fiberglass RV

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Old 08-30-2010, 07:14 AM   #1
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Name: melissa
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Propane Problem

Hello, I have a propane question my folks asked me to post. They dont have a Fiberglass RV but since it's a propane question I figured I could still find them an answer here. They have a 2008 Arctic Fox 5th wheel. They bought their home in Wyoming last year and were there for part of the winter. Long enough to realize they lose electric on a regular basis and sometimes for days. They want to be able to use their 5th wheel when they lose electric. Just the propane system, not the water system. They were camped last year in WY in Oct. (house shopping) when a freak early snowstorm hit. They lost propane they figure due to the regulator or something freezing. They knew both 30 lb tanks were full. Once the temps came up a bit the propane started working again. It wasnt below zero they think it was in the 20's but cant remember for sure. At first I thought about heat tape etc but then realized this requires electricity so they would have no way of keeping it on. Anybody ever have this happen and is there some way of keeping the propane system from freezing? Their tanks aren't even exposed as they are inside the body of the 5er and it being an Arctic Fox it's a 4 season trailer.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Melissa in Florida
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Old 08-30-2010, 07:29 AM   #2
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The propane didn't freeze and wasn't effected by the cold. On some 5th wheel trailers, the propane system needs to equalize the pressure between tanks before the regulator works properly. This has happened on my fathers 2008 jayco Designer and my friends 2009 5th wheel. It shouldn't happen, but it does. After a couple of hours they worked fine, it just takes a while for the auto switch over to regulate the propane pressure. This only seems to happen when the propane is off while not in use then turned on. We found this out the hard way by replacing regulators and hoses before realizing this glitch...

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Old 08-30-2010, 08:13 AM   #3
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Also don't forget that if the valve on the tank is turned on to fast you will not get full flow.

Bill K
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Old 08-30-2010, 09:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Mark Shaffer View Post
the propane system needs to equalize the pressure between tanks before the regulator works properly.
Does that mean that with a two tank system both tanks should be turned on? I have been using one tank at a time and "run out of gas" with 1/3 to 1/2 tank.

Tom - '79 Fiber Stream

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Old 08-30-2010, 11:00 AM   #5
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Last December on my way to Fernley Nev. I decided I was to tired to go any further. Unfortunately I was on Donner Summit and the temp was in the low 20s.
The fan came on but the furnace did not light.
It turned out to be the electric valve on the furnace was frozen. The tech said if their is even a minute amount of moisture in the system at extremely low temp the valve will sometimes freeze. He applied heat to the valve on the furnace with an electric Hair dryer and the problem was solved.
I've bought a 12V hair dryer in case this happens again.
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Old 08-30-2010, 11:56 AM   #6
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Sorry Mark but heat, or the lack of, can actually affect the propane. If the temperature gets really low the pressure in the tank will drop off dramatically. Then, especially if the furnace is a lot more elevated than the tank, there will not be enough pressure to adequately supply the burner.

I doubt if that is the problem on the 5th wheel, but I have often seen it happen to industrial furnaces here in Virginia.
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Old 08-30-2010, 06:50 PM   #7
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The auto changeover valves on the regulator has the glitch of not letting propane run through at needed pressures until the system regulates itself. This sometimes can take a couple of hours. I often winter camp in temps well below freezing, and this past feb. it was 5 degrees. I have never experienced propane freezing or failing to supply the furnace. I guess it could happen... Just my experience on 5th wheelers is the auto changeover valve. They are a little different set up than tongue mounted tanks where you can easily access the manual changeover lever.
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Old 09-06-2010, 12:21 PM   #8
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Don't forget the butane!

I agree with the previous quotes; we have often winter camped and propane evaporation and therefore gas flow drops very rapidlyas the outside temperature begins to dip below freezing. There is one more potential issue. Here in the frgid north, propane is almost exclusively propane - vaporizes at -53 deg F at atmospheric pressure, and somewhat higher than that at the pressure in a bottle. However, if the "propane" were purchased in the mid to southern US, it often has a significant butane content as well. Butane vaporizes at 10 deg F. This may be what is "freezing" in the regulator.


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