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Old 12-28-2003, 09:24 AM   #1
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Does propane go bad?

I am the point of testing out a few of my systems, and have the tanks with the propane from when I bought the unit. The propane in them is 2-1/2 years old... that I know of. Is it safe to use them for testing the oven and such? Or should I get them refilled and OPD'd? I will get the tanks updated, but can use my bbq tanks in the interim.

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Old 12-28-2003, 09:42 AM   #2
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Does propane go bad?

Greetings Sneakinup!

Quote:
Is it safe to use them for testing the oven and such? Or should I get them refilled and OPD'd?
Two years ago, prior to the purchase of my Minuet, I would have assumed the answer to your question was no, that propane did not become questionable due to age. When I took my Minuet in for its initial check-up following purchase, I learned differently. The first call that I received from the service technician was that the propane in the tanks had become contaminated due to the length of time the coach had sat unused. I was told that the only reasons that it would be cost effective to remedy the problem with my existing tanks was that they were the original Worthington Aluminum tanks. The tanks had to be purged, cleaned, and new OPD valves were installed as well - - approximately $75.00 for the pair of 20 pound tanks. I was told that the jets on all of my LP appliances would have been clogged by the sludge from the tanks had they been connected to the system.

Kevin
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Old 12-28-2003, 01:04 PM   #3
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Sneakinup:

With all due respect to Kevin, I strongly disagree with the service tech that told him of the possibility of "sludge" in the tanks.

I have spent the better part of my professional life working on hydrocarbon systems of all ages, and I assure you, unless the liquid was contaminated prior to entering the tanks, propane could not go bad.

Even if a small amount of metal and hydrocarbon oxidation were to occur, gas is drawn off of the top of the cylinder, and any solids and liquids would settle to the bottom. Unless the "propane" (which, in fact, if sold as “LPG”, is a mixture of hydrocarbon gasses, pure propane is generally not sold in the south) has been chemically altered, no measurable degradation should have transpired under normal storage conditions.

I believe I am correct in stating that DOT bottles require retesting every 10 years, at which time the interior is visually inspected, and any sediments or “sludge” would be detected and eliminated.

Of more importance would be the condition of the first stage regulator, which, after several years of nonuse, could develop a problem with the seat, and overpressure the downstream side. I am a big believer in better grade regulators, and would advise any “stamped metal” regulators be trashed if any doubt of unreliability arises.

If anyone has encountered a verifiable instance of in bottle LPG or Propane degradation, I would be very interested in hearing about it.
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Old 12-28-2003, 01:31 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses.

I decided to try the propane, as the only appliances hooked up were the 4 burner stove and gas lamp. With adequate ventilation (Every window open), and all other shut off valves off, I turned on the gas and checked all the connections with soapy water. The stove top lit just fine, as did the gas lamp.

I then tested the propane heater. I wasn't sure what I was doing, as I have no manual for it, but it seemed pretty straight forward. That eventually lit and got nice and toasty.

While having the trailer sitting in my back yard, and having some of the gas appliances disconnected, I remove the hose from the tank for fear of someone coming by and turning on the valves, and then me fumbling with the keys in the door creating a spark and sending the trailer and myself in to orbit.

After I get my HW heater in place and operational, I will then get the tanks upgraded, or temporarily use smaller 20lb tanks.

Suffice to say, the 2-1/2 year old propane (that I know of, it could be older) in one of my tanks seemed to still be explosive!
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Old 12-28-2003, 03:45 PM   #5
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Exclamation FWIW!

FWIW! I uncovered a stash of 100# cylinders in one of the barns here on the property. The newest of them was last re-certified in 1973 After a call to my firendly LP dealer, I went ahead and used them to run the furnace on my AS this winter while I have been working on it. Most of the tanks have manufacture dates from the late 40's and early 50's. So far no problems. These tanks will not be able to be recertified because they do not have the safety collars and no way to install them. I am having the orginal 30# Aluminum Worthington tanks OPD'd and re-certified. It is my understanding from what my LP dealer says that because the LP is stored under pressure in a basically airtight container there is little or no degradation of the gases. Also Sneakinup, they do not reccomend the use of soap to test for leaks, apparently the soap is corrosive to the copper pipe and brass fittings, you can buy a small bottle of noncorrosive test liquid from from a HVAC or gas supply house for about $4-5 a much better choice.

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Old 12-28-2003, 03:47 PM   #6
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I talked with my propane service man who installed my tank and dog house cover in our van, D.O.T. approved. He has been in the business over forty years and told me that this tank never requires inspection and should last indefintely. My aluminum AS tanks should be inspected every few years. He says propane never goes bad but valves and regulators do and can cause problems. He is very sceptical about the longevity of OPD valves because of the mechanical motion of them in the tanks. He thinks that they will cause more problems but that they maybe will save a few lawsuits for some flamed people
because of the overfilling the old type bottles.
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Old 01-22-2004, 01:50 PM   #7
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Propane Tanks

In my day to day work I maintain some very large EG sets that run on propane. 4 sites with large tanks, a 1200 gal installed in 1954, a 5000 gal tank installed in 1976, a 1500 gal tank installed in 1965, and a 2500 gal installed in 1995.
These tanks get varying amounts of use and the propane has never gone bad at any site. The only precaution we take is once every 10 years we have them topped and add about a gallon Alcohol to the tanks. The alcohol absorbs the water from poor propane.
An interesting story about problems with propane was the site with the tank installed in 1954 had a leak on the EG set and blew the doors off the building in 1964 when the EG started its weekly test run.
We now use a commercially available "Leak Check" non-corrosive and works with the smallest of leaks.
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Old 01-22-2004, 02:00 PM   #8
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Sneakinup,

I'm glad you asked. I always wondered about that and never had the courage to ask!
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Old 01-22-2004, 03:00 PM   #9
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It can sure smell bad !!
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Old 02-07-2004, 09:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by 87MH
Of more importance would be the condition of the first stage regulator, which, after several years of nonuse, could develop a problem with the seat, and overpressure the downstream side. I am a big believer in better grade regulators, and would advise any “stamped metal” regulators be trashed if any doubt of unreliability arises.

I found this thread interesting. I ordered a new regulator from King Supply. The price ($40 with shipping) was a lot less than the local discount house ($60 without tax). Is a two stage automatic switch-over with level indicator, cast metal body, made by Marshall Gas Controls. Looked like a good deal, just passing it on if you need or want a new regulator
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Old 02-07-2004, 09:30 AM   #11
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Speaking of regulators

I just discovered that the regulator on my new 25 Classic is defunct. Not only will it not automatically switch over to the full tank, it can not even be manually switched over.

I found this when I finally finished my first 30# tank at the end of a short campout last week. The refrigerator checked on the way home. I switched the lever and removed the tank for refilling.

A couple of days later, I tried to light the furnace while I did some cleaning inside the trailer ... no fire. I finally disconnected the tank and carried it around the other pigtail and it worked fine there. to be sure, I swapped it back again and no gas no matter which way the lever. Swapped it again and it worked fine.

I hate to take the trailer to the dealer for that. The 30# tank will last into the summer, at least. I guess I'll live with it till I happen to go by there next time or have some other problem that is more critical.
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Old 02-07-2004, 11:15 AM   #12
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A new bottle will have to be recertified at its 12 birthday. The recertification itself may take various routes. A simple visual reinspection -- involving only the exterior of the tank -- will extend the bottle for another 5 years. The tank will be redated with an "E" after the date. (Think of "E" as meaning "eye," or visual.) Some propane dealers will do a visual reinspection for free. AT the other end of the spectrum, a full recertification means that the tank will undergo a water test and will certainly be more costly, but it'll be recertified for a full 12 years, too. Many dealers won't even be equipped to do a recertification of this kind.

OPDs are required in many states and have been since April 2002. All new bottles are sold with OPDs, regardless of location. The cost to put an OPD on a bottle varies, but it'll generally be $20-some. It is worthwhile to have 30-lb/7-gal bottles OPD'd. However, because you can buy a new 20-lb/5-gal bottle for around the same cost as having an older one OPD'd, then it's tougher and depends more on how close you are to Sam's Club (or some other place that sells bottles for a reasonable price).

Old propane should be just as good as new propane. (It's all just a few million years old anyway.)


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Old 02-07-2004, 11:36 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by eubank
A new bottle will have to be recertified at its 12 birthday. The recertification itself may take various routes. A simple visual reinspection -- involving only the exterior of the tank -- will extend the bottle for another 5 years. The tank will be redated with an "E" after the date. (Think of "E" as meaning "eye," or visual.) Some propane dealers will do a visual reinspection for free. AT the other end of the spectrum, a full recertification means that the tank will undergo a water test and will certainly be more costly, but it'll be recertified for a full 12 years, too. Many dealers won't even be equipped to do a recertification of this kind.

OPDs are required in many states and have been since April 2002. All new bottles are sold with OPDs, regardless of location. The cost to put an OPD on a bottle varies, but it'll generally be $20-some. It is worthwhile to have 30-lb/7-gal bottles OPD'd. However, because you can buy a new 20-lb/5-gal bottle for around the same cost as having an older one OPD'd, then it's tougher and depends more on how close you are to Sam's Club (or some other place that sells bottles for a reasonable price).

Old propane should be just as good as new propane. (It's all just a few million years old anyway.)


Lynn
I think I posted this somewhere before, but here goes anyway:
I found a pair of old 20# tanks, long out of date, non-OPD, and took them to my local Wal-Mart, and exchanged them for current, OPD, filled 20#'ers. Cost around $22.00 each, less than buying new tanks and getting them filled, or getting old ones re-upped with OPD and inspection. We don't use much gas here in Florida for heating, so we are still running off the first tank of two we bought in July. The smaller tanks also reduce the tongue weight a little, to boot.
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Old 02-07-2004, 03:46 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by argosy20
I found a pair of old 20# tanks, long out of date, non-OPD, and took them to my local Wal-Mart, and exchanged them for current, OPD, filled 20#'ers. Cost around $22.00 each, less than buying new tanks and getting them filled, or getting old ones re-upped with OPD and inspection.
Terry
This isn't a bad idea, but there's one thing to watch for: A new tank is good for 12 years after the date stamped on the collar. Now, when you do an exchange, make sure that the date on the collar gives you as much time as possible before recertification. IN other words, if you trade in a tank, but the tank is only good for a few more years, then you haven't made that good of a deal for the long run.

BTW, there is TREMENDOUS fluctuation in the prices of 20-lb/5-gal tanks. Get on the phone and shop around. (For the standard 30-lb/7-gal tanks, you'll have a good deal less choice because stores like Walmart, Sam's Club and the like generally don't market them.) Don't worry too much about brand. They all have to be manufactured to the same standards by law.

Lynn
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