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Old 01-29-2010, 07:58 AM   #1
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1984 31' Excella
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Propane pressure check

I have an '84 Excella that I'm rehabing and now am working on the LP system. PO installed a heater and I replaced the oven w/ a cooktop. Appears to be original regulator and hoses. I installed a permanent low pressure gauge and pressured up the system and tested all the connections w/ Snoop and everything appears leak-free. I did the time leak test w/ the tank valves off and the gauge showed it held steady pressure for approx. 15 minutes. Then the pressure slowly dropped over the next 1 1/2 hours to 0. I checked for leaks again and time drop tested it 2 more times and it did the exact same thing. No smell of gas anywhere. Does the regulator release pressure when tanks are turned off, faulty regulator, or a leak I just haven't located, yet? I looked all over this forum and the web for something similar and found nothing so forgive me if I'm duplicating an old thread.
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:26 AM   #2
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Does any appliance have a standing pilot light that could bleed off the pressure?
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:04 AM   #3
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No pilot light and all valves to appliances off. I temporarily plugged the line that goes to the cooktop I will later install. After the testing I would turn the tank valve open and it would immediately go back up to pressure w/o any smell, leaks, or hissing. I've talked to a few people and it's split between those who think it should hold pressure indefinitely and those who feel that w/o pressure from the tanks to the input side of the regulator diaphram that the diaphram will eventually vent the pressure. I found that if the pressure hold steady for 10 min's or so the system is considered leak-free but I can't find anything on what happens after that. Thanks for any help.
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:05 AM   #4
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What pressure are you testing at? If the test pressure is much over 14" W.C., the regulator will bleed it off if it is connected.

You're not supposed to pressure test at more than 2 PSI without capping the lines to each appliance.
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:08 AM   #5
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(crossposted)

If the regulator is still connected to the tank and the tank valve is shut, the regulator should hold pressure indefinitely, as long as the pressure is below 14" wc or so.
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:24 AM   #6
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The pressure never went over 11 WC at any point. Again, the pressure held steady with the tanks on and for 15 minutes after I turned the tank valve off, then would slowly lose pressure down to 0 over the next 1 1/2 hr. I don't want to lose LP with the tanks on at some point if it's some regulator problem. Debating whether or not to replace the regulator and rubber hoses to be safe but if it was a leak, why would it hold steady for 15 mins after the tank valves are turned off?
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Old 01-29-2010, 05:41 PM   #7
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Check for a leak in the valve packing for the tank valve (likely) or in the connectors between the valve and the regulator (unlikely), using soapy water.

If it's the tank valve, it isn't necessary to get it fixed unless it also leaks when it's completely open. They have "back packing" that helps the valve stem seal better when the valve is completely open than it does when it's shut or part way.
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Old 01-29-2010, 06:01 PM   #8
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You have a leak. A small one but a leak.

If you do not have AC leak soap available I would use a 25% solution of Simple Green. It is a great leak indicator in that it will build and hold very small bubbles.

One are to check are the flared fittings near the tanks and under the trailer. Vibration can open them over time. If outdoors the amount of gas you are leaking you would almost have to have your nose on the fitting to notice it.

I had a fitting leak that my wife could smell once and a while. The only indication I got was a lose in the tank level over months of sitting. Simple Green found it.

Spray everything that looks like a joint including the regulator and tank valves.
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:06 PM   #9
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If the low pressure remains steady for a period of time and then drops the leak is most likely on the high pressure side between the regulator and tanks. A leak test with soapy water is in order. It is not unlikely that your hoses have developed some porosity if they are the original equipment and over 25 years old. It might not be a bad idea to replace both hoses and regulator, since both could fail at an inconvenient time.
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:09 PM   #10
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I will completely coat the system from tank valves to appliances for leaks in the next week before I just start repacing parts. Thanks for your help and I'll keep you posted.
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:07 PM   #11
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If you have an automatic change over regulator, with the green flag/red flag system, the green flag should be showing. Remove any temporary gauges etc, put the system back to normal, turn off the tanks and see how long it takes for the green flag to be replaced by the red flag. If it takes several days, you don't have a leak worth chasing. It will be so very small, you won't smell it, you probably won't find it with soap. If it turns red within a few minutes you have a leak that you should find and repair.
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Old 01-30-2010, 12:44 AM   #12
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Just to make things more difficult, you may also have a very slow
leak in the older appliance shut-off valves. I spent many hours getting a 60 year old house's rusty gas lines pressure tight when we remodeled; the Simple Green method works very well, but sometimes the bubbles can be very small and hard to spot. Code required something on the order of 15 psi for an hour IIRC. If you can disconnect the regulator and apply more pressure, the leaks will show up better....

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Old 02-01-2010, 07:35 AM   #13
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I'm getting new hoses, etc from tanks to copper main and I will be moving the regulator's position from the bottom of the enclosure to the top as I noticed the pigtail ends going into the regulator were slightly pinched and cocked to the side from the tanks. I don't know if the position was factory but it doesn't match any pictures I've seen or common sense to have it so low you can't easily see the sight glass or have the vent lower to possibly collect more debris and not easily check/clean. Once I get all the parts in and can get over to the trailer I will take pic's and post the progress. Thanks Barts for the appliance valve suggestion. I briefly thought of that but wasn't sure how to check it other than temp. disconnecting line to the valves and installing plugs (which I may do just to make sure). You guys are the best and I hope to contribute to the forum to be of help to members as you have been to me.
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Old 03-05-2010, 09:07 PM   #14
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1984 31' Excella
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Finally got to do some work and replaced the pigtails and regulator. Since the old regulator was mounted near the bottoms of the tanks, it somewhat crimped the pigtails just as they entered the regulator and it was so low (how low was it?), that you couldn't see the empty indicator with the cover on. What I did was bolt an aluminum piece about 20" long to the original plate and replaced the 18" line from the regulator to the 5/8" copper union under the tongue with a 36" line and mounted the new regulator at the top. This raised the regulator to the tank valve level, freed the pigtails from crimping, lessened likelyhood of debris in vent, makes empty indicator easier to see, AND resolved the pressure drop problem! Last but not least, it makes me feel safer. Things like rubber hoses will decay and sometimes you can't really see certain parts condition until you take it apart-the 18" line under the tongue was nasty! I didn't get pic's as it was dark when I finished but I will try to post one soon. Thanks you guys for all the help.
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