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Propane tank problem

Went yesterday to the small hardware store down the road to fill 2 20# propane bottles for the summer lawn mower beer I started this morning. He is a little more expensive but close by, a great guy and he is not real worried about the dates on the tanks. After they were in the garage the Mrs. asks me “what is that noise?” I can’t hear worth a darn so she goes looking and finds one of the tanks hissing and smells LP. It was leaking out the overfill valve on the backside of the top.

I put it outside for safety and waited until this morning. It seemed to have stopped so I connected it up to my brewery and lit the HLT and MT up. Then the regulator, hose etc. froze up. The tank was in a tub of water as usual to prevent this. Off everything went and I switched to the other tank. All was well, mash in progress.

Is it possible the tank was overfilled? I noticed it sank in the tub of water much easier than the other tank. I am thinking of connecting it to a small burner outside (not near anything) and just letting some off without lighting it. Thoughts?

Sounds like the tank was overfilled and and liquid propane was getting into the regulator and hose, can’t think of any other way these would freeze. When my tanks freeze it is usually when the weather is cold, the burner has been running for a while and the tank is nearing empty, and then it’s the bottom of thank that ices up, not the regulator and hose.

Do not keep your tanks in the garage no matter what. Propane stays outside always.

This also happens to me pretty regularly under exactly these same circumstances; my workaround is to keep two tanks on hand so that I can switch out when one freezes up. I’ve not heard of placing the tank in a tub of water before - is this a commonly known way to keep a tank from freezing?

Detached garage so no heat or sparks (usually). I do keep the flammable stuff in the farthest bay from anything else. Would suck to have my brewery blow up though.

So do you all think I can safely just drain it down a little?

I don’t see why not, and if you see liquid spitting out you’ll have your answer for sure.

I hadn’t heard of putting a tank in a water bath either but it stands to reason it would help to pull some of the cold out of the tank and keep it from freezing up as quickly. Myself I’m using a low pressure 50k burner so I don’t see this problem but I’ve heard it is common on the larger, high pressure burner systems. Its actually kept me from wanting to upgrade.

Weigh it and see if it’s over filled the QPD should have shut it off.

Older tanks don’t have the over fill safety device.

True but I didn’t think they would even fill them any more.

Check the tank’s handle to see if it is equipped with the overfill protection device (OPD).

True but I didn’t think they would even fill them any more.[/quote]

Once in a while you will find someone that will fill them. I know of a guy that travels to farms that will fill a non-opd tank with out thinking about it. Can’t get it done at ACE Hardware or U-Haul.

It has an OPD and only a couple of years out of date and in good condition. I just haven’t bothered to get it validated.

Chuck, it is a 20lb tank but how much should it weigh gross 20 or 20 plus the weight of the tank?

It should have a tare weight stamped on it.

It will hold 20lb net, so 20lb plust the weight of the tank.

I can actualy answer all these questions:

A.) Yes the tank was overfilled!

B.) Yes, you can bleed it off OUTSIDE by unscrewing a small scew 1 - 3 turns located on the side of the valve, it will take a while.

C.) DON’T use it until you bleed it down.

D.) An OPD tank will have a triangular valve handle, any other shape is a non OPD tank.

E.) It is illegal for the filler to fill non OPD tanks smaller than 40 lbs.

F.) look at side collar; TW is the empty weight of the tank, WC is the capacity of the tank (What it will hold) It’s coded; the easist way to do this is move the decimal point over one, example: WC 46.8 will equate to 4.68 gallons of liguid. Divide that number by 20 to convert to pounds, (.23 gallons per pound).

G.) basically if it weighs over 38 - 40 lps full it is overfilled.

H.) start getting it filled somewhere else!

I.) Escaping propane vapor settled to within a few inches off the ground/floor as it is heavier than air.

The guy who fills my propane tanks told me they put a max of 18 # in a 20 #tank. My tank tare is 19 #. I weigh it when I get back after a fill and then after every brewing session. Propane used /batch is fairly constant. The key is to weigh the tank after a fill. I figure 3 brew sessions and finish the tank with the gas grill


how much does a full tank weigh (18-19lbs)?

The empty tank should weight around 18.5 lbs that’s the tare wt you then can fill it with 20 lbs of propane total weight 38.5 lbs.

Yesterday I connected my turkey fryer burner to the suspect tank, lit it up and it burned normally for 10 min or so. Go figure??? It is a jet burner similar to two of the ones on my brewery (morebeer 20 gallon).

A “20lb” tank will weight about 40 lps FULL (20 lbs of product + empty weight of tank 18 - 20 lbs.) Most of us own a bath scale, use it to weight these tanks, those scales arn’t to accurate but they’ll get you close enough.

All propane tanks can be filled to 80% of their WC (water Capacity) thus a 20lb tank can hold up to 20 lbs of liguid propane or 4.24 gallons of liquid propane.

Most exchange center instead of raising the price reduce the amount of product they put into tank so if this guy is only putting in 15 - 17 pounds of product in your 20 lb capacity tank - he is ripping you off just like the exchange centers do.

Part of the services my company offers is propane refills, & we’ve been doing it for over 20 yrs. So I understand this stuff.

If the regulator or valve frosts up during use it is being exposed to liquid propane - a sure tell sign it is too full.

It is against the law/fire code to rely on the OPD shut-off to tell the filler when it is full, this valve works much like your toilet tank float valve and I’m sure some of us have seen those fail at least once in our life times. It must be filled by WEIGHT that’s why there is a scale in the fill station. These scales are tested bi-annualy by the State D.O.T. just like gas station pumps.

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