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Old 05-16-2014, 05:50 AM   #21
Jeremym27
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Thank you to everyone who has commented. I finally made it back to the camper yesterday, but only for an hour. Oddly enough, I decided to try disconnecting both propane tanks yesterday and try them again.

I did this without having read the comments, but when I had the directional valve pointed at Tank A I couldn't even light the stove. Then I went and changed the directional valve to Tank B and I could light the stove. That gave me some hope; so I turned on the propane hot water heater and I could hear it turn on and working.

Then I turned on the heater. The AC works just fine and when I switched to the heater the thermostat works and turns on the fan and the air blowing out wasn't cold. That said, it wasn't really hot either. It is difficult to say yet because it was 80 degrees outside and I'm guessing it may be difficult to tell in that temparature.

I will be spending this weekend at the camper and will be able to give it a more thorough test at night when the temperature is lower and I will have more time to let the heater do it's work.

I did check the fuse and it looked fine. When I removed it a red light on the panel lit up, and it turned off as soon as I replaced it so I believe I'm ok in that department.

I'm putting my money on the propane connection for Tank A is bad. I'm guessing that is a better problem to have than a faulty heater or circuit board; but I could be wrong.

The comment about a first time owner and relying on the internet to figure out how this thing works is dead on. The owners manual is totaly useless. It is generic for several models and essentially just refers me to the manual for each separate appliance (which I don't have).

I will report back after this weekend once I have more conclusive results.

Thank again for everyone's input!
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Old 05-20-2014, 08:36 AM   #22
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So we stayed at the camper for the weekend but the temperatures didn't warrant needing the heater on. I'm going to have to do it sometime though to know that it is working.
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Old 05-20-2014, 06:46 PM   #23
Ken / Claudia
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Sounds like your getting a good idea of how the systems work. A easy way to test for heat anytime. Turn themostat up as high as it goes(temp). Turn on furence and hold hand over a vent. You will feel cool air blowing for a minute or 2 and than the air will turn warm/hot if the propane lit. Leave on as long as you want to test. Turn off furence and hold hand over same vent you should feel air get cool again. The propane shuts down first and fan blows air for again a minute or 2. Good Luck
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Old 05-21-2014, 12:06 PM   #24
bigceltic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRTJH View Post

The propane tanks and pigtails have "flow limiters" in them to shut down the flow of propane if there is a "large flow leak". When you turn on the propane tank too quickly it "can" (but not always) activate the flow limiter. When this happens, there is enough propane flowing to use the stove burners, oven and refrigerator (they use only a small amount of propane). However, with the flow limiters activated, there is not sufficient propane flowing into the trailer lines to sustain a flame in either the hot water heater or the furnace. Those two appliances use more propane than the flow limiter will allow.

The simplest way to "fix" the potential "flow limiter problem" is to turn off both propane tanks, disconnect the pigtails from them, then reattach the pigtails, and SLOWLY turn on the propane tanks. (If you turn them on too fast, you can "reactivate the flow limiter")
I had a furnace problem and this technique fixed it. Stove, water heater, etc were working fine, but furnace would not light. Do the above steps, and turn the propane back on S-L-O-W-L-Y.
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Old 05-25-2014, 02:39 PM   #25
Jeremym27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigceltic View Post
I had a furnace problem and this technique fixed it. Stove, water heater, etc were working fine, but furnace would not light. Do the above steps, and turn the propane back on S-L-O-W-L-Y.
This is exactly what it was!

Thank you very much for your help!
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Old 05-25-2014, 03:01 PM   #26
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I just learned something by reading all the helpful tips. I will be sure to turn my valves on slowly to prevent this from happening to us.
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Old 05-25-2014, 04:00 PM   #27
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I've worked with propane systems quite a bit and I've read multiple threads on different forums about the "open the valve slowly" theory and on just about every post pertaining to propane problems, that's the first thing that gets jumped on and it's always supported with several "my brother-in-law had the same problem" posts. I'm still trying to wrap around the idea that a properly functioning propane system that delivers enough propane in volume and pressure to sustain operation of a fridge and water heater, but will not allow a furnace to ignite, and I just can't get there. All propane devices operate at a regulated pressure of 11"WC. Would someone please explain how this can happen?
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Old 05-25-2014, 07:52 PM   #28
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Bob, maybe this will make it a little clearer.

Inside the Acme nut, there is a ball bearing check valve that almost shuts off momentarily when full pressure is released by opening the cylinder valve. You should hear a click at that point. It doesn't shut down completely, as that would negate its ability to detect leaks and excess flow from a leak or major line break, and no gas could flow.

It closes just enough to allow a bypass of gas that is very slight, about 10 cubic feet or less per hour (cf/hour) flow, as opposed to the max flow of 200 cf/hour.

The bypass gas goes into the propane system, and if there are no leaks or broken pipes, it backs up and builds pressure in the gas lines in the RV.

When it equalizes on both sides of the valve, the valve opens to allow full flow up to about a max of 200 cf/hour at about 100 psi. Then if you were standing there, you would hear a second click. Using all of your propane appliances should not exceed 100cf/hour.

If there is a leak or a broken pipe, the pressure can't build up and the excess flow valve doesn't open up all the way thus limiting the gas output to about 10 cf/hour which is enough to light a couple of stove burners but no enough to burn the furnace or water heater.

By opening the valve quickly you slam the check ball shut and fool the system, sometimes this will result in no flow at all and sometimes the flow is just enough to allow a burner or two to light. At this point you have to shut the system down, remove the pigtails from the tanks, wait a couple of minutes , reattach the pigtails and open the valve slowly. If this still doesn't work you either have a check valve that has malfunctioned, or you have a leak in the system. It could be as simple as a stove burner inadvertently left open or bumped open in passing or it could be a real leak somewhere in the system.

The one constant in all of this is the regulator which continues to regulate the pressure to 11" in the manometer. Pressure should never be confused with volume; 10cf/hour is 10 cubic feet per hour regardless of the delivery pressure.
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Old 05-26-2014, 04:07 AM   #29
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I understand all of that. What I'm questioning is how a propane system that is functioning correctly can selectively operate one appliance but not another. I don't think a stove burner is going to use more propane than another.
As far as meticulously opening the valves n the propane bottles, I open them fast every time and I have never "locked up" my propane system.
And sorry, I have to disagree with volume vs pressure. If you have the correct pressure from the regulator, you have to have sufficient volume to operate the appliances.
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Old 05-26-2014, 05:19 AM   #30
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Bob,

A propane system that is "functioning correctly" can't or won't selectively operate one appliance but not the other. You're missing the point of the "safety cutoff system"... When it is activated, the propane system is NOT functioning correctly any longer.

I think you're missing the pressure/volume concept. You can turn on your water hose faucet just a "smidgen", say 1/8th of a turn and if your water pressure is 60 PSI, if the hose nozzle on the "other end of the hose" is closed, in a minute or two, you'll have 60 PSI in the water hose. BUT, if you open the nozzle, the pressure built up in the hose will "shoot" water out at 60 PSI for a few seconds, then the water flow will drop to a "dribble". That's because the "pressure is available" but the "flow is not sustainable with the small amount of volume being supplied. As the VOLUME drops, so does the PRESSURE drop....

Just as the water hose will lose pressure and start to "dribble" (volume) and not shoot at full force, in your propane system, when there is no demand from an appliance, the propane will build up to the regulator's pressure of 11" WC, but when the "nozzle" is opened (stove burner), the volume is not being supplied by the safety cutoff to "sustain the volume" and the "pressure will drop.

To illustrate to yourself, take a 20 lb propane tank out into an open area, connect a pigtail to it with the other end of the pigtail open to the atmosphere. Turn on the tank valve and see what happens. The "high pressure flow" will stop, but there will be a very small "hiss" of propane still flowing from the open end of the pigtail. If you TEE a manometer on the end of the pigtail and close the other end of the TEE , it will build up to 11" WC, but if you open the other end of the TEE, the pressure will drop because there is not sufficient volume of propane flowing to maintain the pressure. As the pigtail empties the propane, the pressure falls. That "small hiss" of propane is sufficient to operate a 2000 BTU burner, but not a 20,000 BTU burner.

Now, if there was "sufficient volume" flowing through the pigtail, (normal operation) the manometer would continue to read 11" WC.

Pressure is directly dependent on volume. Without adequate "resupplying" of propane, the pressure MUST fall, it's simply "emptying the chamber faster than you're filling it"......

In the gas control valve on the furnace, the input pressure is 11" WC. The gas control valve drops that pressure to 10.6" WC. If the propane control valve can not maintain 10.6" WC, the safety valve in the furnace disables propane flow. There is no "safety valve on the stovetop burner to disable flow, so the "propane hiss" that you hear will continue to provide the "greatly reduced volume" of propane to that burner as long as the "propane hiss" at the pigtail safety cutoff continues to flow a small amount of propane. But, if you have a manometer on that line, it will not be 11" WC, so the furnace gas control valve will not open to allow any of the "propane hiss" to operate that appliance.

The reason there is a "propane hiss" in the pigtail is also a safety device. It allows for a "low pressure bleed" to prevent the tank from overpressurizing (should it be in a fire) so the tank will "bleed slowly rather than explode"(from overpressurizing). In other words, that "hiss" allows the propane tank to "cook off" rather than explode.
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Old 05-26-2014, 06:58 AM   #31
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As a note.... 11" of water column on a manometer is 0.397 psi however the pressure of 11"WC is generally considered the norm and is adjusted by watching the drop as burners are lit throughout the RV and adjusting the regulator so that the 11" remains constant.

The Regulator on an RV is designed to increase flow to maintain pressure as demand increases, if it isn't keeping up then it needs to be adjusted or replaced if adjustment is not sufficient.

However as JRTJH stated many of the appliances also have safety switches which measure the supply pressure and will shut down the appliance if the pressure is too high or too low in order to prevent fire in the event of a malfunction or leak.

There is also a flow limiter in the bottle valve itself, along with the one in the pigtail.
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Old 05-26-2014, 10:49 AM   #32
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^^^ YUP, what he said.....
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