Oh Where Oh Where Did My Propane Go? - Fiberglass RV
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Old 11-15-2016, 01:19 PM   #1
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Oh Where Oh Where Did My Propane Go?

My pre owned Casita was said to have two full tanks of propane when I purchased her in August. However, after two days of running the frig and a little hot water, I came home to the frig off, no hot water, no lights working, and no electric jack. I surmise that the propane was used up and the battery kicked in and quit after running the frig for about 4-5 hours. I must admit that when I started this journey, I noticed that I had left my propane tanks open at some point, not sure when, but I thought that would not deplete the gas unless something was turned on. Or does it? So, another new learning experience for this new egg parent. Luckily, I had already researched how to use the manual jack and had a back up cooler and wash facilities close by. I guess my last question is what money I am looking at to fill the two tanks around St. Petersburg, FL.? Any advice is appreciated!
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Old 11-15-2016, 01:29 PM   #2
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Shouldn't use propane at that rate with just the fridge and hot water heater on. You either have a leak or the tanks were nearly empty to begin with.
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Old 11-15-2016, 01:37 PM   #3
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Here is what is even worse. Slow leak and the bad smell that is put in propane disappears but the propane does not. A family here blew up their camper one morning when the wife lit the cook stove. They were lucky enough to live but burned really bad. Get yourself a propane detector and install it inaccordance with the directions. Then go looking for the leak with a hand held gas detector.

Get one at Sears. http://www.sears.com/lcm-direct-lcm-...1&blockType=G1
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Old 11-15-2016, 02:09 PM   #4
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The key words here are:
My pre owned Casita was said to have two full tanks...
I would immediately assume that they were actually two almost empty tanks.
Please do check out all those things you've been warned about here, but it is probably not as bad.
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Old 11-15-2016, 03:13 PM   #5
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-I would vote for the tanks being almost empty but also for peace of mind, get a 1/2" paint brush and some dish soap/water solution and check for leaks from the tanks, regulator and connections to all the appliances. If there is a leak you will see bubbles. To loose that much propane(if they were full) you would or should smell the propane. That year of Casita should have a propane detector installed from the factory but some people find the too sensitive and disconnect them. The cost of filling 2 tanks should be pretty cheap, up here in Canada it is about $15/ tank.

One thing that may help with your other question is A-Z Casita Manual
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Old 11-15-2016, 03:41 PM   #6
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Another good way to check for propane leaks is to get some of the liquid bubbles that kids play with. A small squeeze bottle helps too. If you have to pay someone to remove and reinstall the tanks, that would add to the cost. It's pretty easy to change tanks so if you don't know how, perhaps someone can show you how to do it. Sometimes, tanks an also be filled while they are still on the trailer.
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Old 11-15-2016, 04:36 PM   #7
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Sherri,

My take on the capacity of a 20-pound cylinder is that one cylinder can operate for perhaps four weeks more or less, including running the refrigerator full-time.

You might start out by weighing the cylinders to ensure that they are empty. A bathroom scale should be adequately accurate for this step.

How To Tell How Full (or Empty) Your Propane Tank Really Is

If the cylinders are not actually empty, then check that one or both of the cylinder valves is open and check how the changeover valve between the tanks is set.

(I personally operate with one cylinder valve closed so an automatic changeover doesn't drain my second cylinder without my knowing that I am running low.)

Somehow I don't think there is a big leak, but stranger things have happened so go about things cautiously.

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Old 11-15-2016, 04:59 PM   #8
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Probably time to check the date that is stamped into the handle of the tanks. In the US it is 12 years and they can no longer be filled. Even though the Casita is not that old, the tanks could have been swapped out at a propane exchange and are now out of date.
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Old 11-15-2016, 05:52 PM   #9
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Propane

I deal with an Amerigas bulk dealer in Cedar Rapids. If one has an expired
tank that's empty, they will exchange it for a tank that has
several years left on it so if you're on the road you can get refilled. They are charging about the going rate and after 4 tanks you get a free one. My 2006 tanks for my big Weber are now 2010s. The guys and women at these places
are very safety conscious in my experience. The empty tanks I have weigh 17.6 lbs. Full they weigh 37.6 on the scale. Some exchange places sell you a short fill of 15 lbs. Nice guys.
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Old 11-15-2016, 08:11 PM   #10
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Civilguy does it right by only opening one tank at a time, and when that one tank is MT close it and open the fresh one.
If you leave the MT one open it could half fill from other tank.
Also you can tell if the tank is full by weight
there is a TW (tank weight) stamped on the rim of the tank
then you put 20lbs with the TW and it will weigh the combined weight if full.
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Old 11-15-2016, 08:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gerry View Post
If you leave the MT one open it could half fill from other tank.
Nonsense. A valve switches the feed from one tank to the other. It can't be open to both tanks at the same time.
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Old 11-15-2016, 08:31 PM   #12
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You can also go to an RV place and have them do a column test which is simple and probably cheap. Just ask how much before going as some want other business with it to do it. You would need some propane for that so you can ask them if they will put some to do the test or do you have to go fill with some first, assuming you have none.
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Old 11-16-2016, 04:58 AM   #13
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I share the opinion that there was less propane than you thought. Weighing the tanks is a good idea. As mentioned each tank is supposed to be marked with it's Tare (empty) weight. Subtract that from what the tanks weigh now which will tell you how much propane is left. Pay attention to the units of weight on your tank.
http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=...5o0&ajaxhist=0


They also make a relatively inexpensive tank weight gauge that assumes an empty weight (all steel tanks weigh about the same) to speed the measurement. You only have to free up the tanks and then just lift it slightly over the tank mount. Undo the hoses for the most accurate weight.
https://www.amazon.com/Grill-Gauge-P...+lb+tank+gauge


Those in-line gauges are pretty useless so I use the one referenced above. Although some Worthingtons have a built-in gauge that uses an internal float to measure propane which is pretty good too.
http://www.campingworld.com/shopping...as-gauge/56055


But I think your sense of the train of events is probably pretty close in terms of explaining why your battery went dead as well. Although I don't know what length Casita you have and I don't believe 17's have the DC option. Someone more knowledgeable about 17's can chime in.


Although I suppose you now have experimental evidence that your tow doesn't put much (or enough) back into the trailer battery while towing. Which is my experience as well.


There is no back-flow through the regulator. When the indicator shows that it has switched, then turn the lever to point to the other (fuller) tank. You can then remove the empty tank to have it refilled if you wish to refill while on your trip.


As a practice, I turn on the tanks fairly slowly, at least initially, opening the tank that the regulator is pointing to first. I believe (but don't actually know) that the regulator is reacting somehow to pressure differences and I want the regulator to see the intended tank first.
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Old 11-16-2016, 06:46 AM   #14
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Thanks!

So much great info and suggestions! I sincerely appreciate the time and thought you all give this forum and the comfort it is to a new owner to get info this fast. I was going to just take the RV to the fill place, but now I know that I want to weigh the tanks first, fill them, weigh again, check for leaks with soapy water, and keep track of the weight as I use them to see what I am using. I do have a working detector (I know because even cleaning with vinegar and water will set it off), so I am hopeful there are no leaks inside, thus hazards, on board. Again, thanks for the price info and all the suggestions.
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Old 11-16-2016, 07:36 AM   #15
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I guess I am missing something. My trailer came with a regulator with an automatic changeover . Opening the valve on only one tank defeats the purpose of the automatic changeover , saves no propane and does not prevent you from ending up with 2 tanks at 50% . We originally left one tank valve closed and switched tanks manually.
This works great if it's daytime and 70 degrees but at -15 below , in the middle of the night and it's snowing , having to get dressed and go outside to switch tanks because the furnace shutdown is a PITA .

The gas valves on the water heater / furnace may have dirt / corrosion in them and are not shutting off completely.
I would shut off the propane tanks, disconnect the gas line to the trailer and apply air pressure (low pressure) to the gas system . It just as easy to find an air leak as a propane leak and a lot safer.
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Old 11-16-2016, 08:44 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
I guess I am missing something. My trailer came with a regulator with an automatic changeover . Opening the valve on only one tank defeats the purpose of the automatic changeover , saves no propane and does not prevent you from ending up with 2 tanks at 50% . We originally left one tank valve closed and switched tanks manually.
This works great if it's daytime and 70 degrees but at -15 below , in the middle of the night and it's snowing , having to get dressed and go outside to switch tanks because the furnace shutdown is a PITA .
Steve,

Agreed, the need for a manual changeover might not occur at a convenient time. The alternative, if one is not good about periodically monitoring the cylinders, is needing to go get two empty cylinders filled at said inconvenient time. That's the choice one gets to make.

Based on my hazy understanding of how the regulator works, I don't understand how the tanks might both end up at 50%. To express this as an electrical analogy, (which is probably dangerous for someone whose focus is hydraulics), I view the changeover mechanism as a single-pole double-throw switch with the load on the common leg. Is that correct?
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Old 11-16-2016, 09:16 AM   #17
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I check my propane tanks periodically. If one is low or empty , I get it filled ASAP. We have hunted out of our trailer at below zero temps and when we were switching tanks manually , ran the tank dry in the middle of the night. Again when manually switching tanks , we took off for the day and came back to a warm refrigerator because the single tank ran out .
There are pro's and cons to both methods.
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Old 11-16-2016, 10:29 AM   #18
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Tank weights are stamped into the metal collar. May be hard to read if paint and rust on it.
I weigh our tanks when empty and full and mark the weights on the tank with a big black marker. That makes it ease to read.

If your tanks are getting old, trade them at the grocery store for newer tanks.
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Old 11-16-2016, 10:58 AM   #19
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I use the hot water trick to see if there is gas in the tank.
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Old 11-16-2016, 11:13 AM   #20
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I use the hot water method too but use a magnetic color strip with the hot water.

Propane Tank Gauge
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