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Old 10-23-2019, 08:35 PM   #1
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Default Propane hissing noise

Two weeks ago we had our propane filled up but didn't use it for stove or fridge until after 3 days. Upon turning on the valve I hear hissing noise from under the van. Needless to say, aired out the tank and safely got home. Checked for leaks with soapy water all joints I could get to. Got under the van into the regulator and felt gas coming out of the smaller circular part of the regulator assembly, marked red in attached image.
Questions:
1. Why the oil? where from?
2. In checking what needs to removed there seems to be a plate with several screws that helps keep the regulator in place but can see nothing else. It seems I would need to twist to remove but tight fit against bar above it. Any tips removing this?
3. Can someone lead me to a place to get replacement part?

Thanks in advance for any tips.
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Old 10-23-2019, 08:39 PM   #2
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You would simply need a new two stage regulator. They make two styles based on the orientation of the vent that you can see in your picture. I canít tell from the picture which one you would need, but the principle is that you need that vent to be facing downward toward the ground.
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Old 10-23-2019, 10:31 PM   #3
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Hi: Looks like you need a new two stage regulator. The brown oil is in the propane gas. I just removed mine in a 2016 PW Lexor TS. It leaked the same brown oil from the first stage of the the regulator. Here is the link to the one purcahsed on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...KIKX0DER&psc=1

It was recommended on the facebook owners page. it is supposed to be pretty good. Also some people have replaced three regulators in two years because of the oil in the gas.
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Old 10-23-2019, 10:39 PM   #4
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Follow up. Once you remove and free up the regulator. Remove the hose from the second stage(larger side) first. The hose fitting will rotate. Now see if you can rotate the entire regulator from the incoming line(bracket may need disconnecting to allow rotationg). The incoming line fitting does not rotate.

When putting back together. Use a wire brush to clean the threads on the lines. I used both yellow gas tape and pipe thread sealant. This allows a bit more rotation without breaking seal (more forgiving). Purchased an inexpensive gas sniffer from Amazon for about $20. Used this to check for leaks. Easier to use than soap and bubbles. Mine had very difficult access. I used the leveling blocks for camping to elevate 6 inches. This really helped in getting access to the regulator. You might want to invest in some open ended box wrenches since the crescent wrench does not fit too easily. At least for me.
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Old 10-25-2019, 12:27 AM   #5
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Van Dream: thank you for reminding about the vent down. I see now they have some that are vertical

Rlum: yes getting that thing out was a challenge, had to use a ramp to get the back end high enough to twist it much like how you described.

I got the part out and just waiting for the replacement part and reinstall.

I read somewhere that oil is an indication of overfilling the tank. If that's the case I'll probably just ask for specific amount that I know does not come close to filling that last 20% of the tank.
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Old 10-25-2019, 02:33 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ra2jim View Post
.....I read somewhere that oil is an indication of overfilling the tank. If that's the case I'll probably just ask for specific amount that I know does not come close to filling that last 20% of the tank.


Oil from overfilling? No no no. The oil is part of the process that produces your propane. There are separators at the gas plant to remove it. But they are not 100% efficient. Likewise, it settles out in the distributors large storage tanks and in you LP tank. Everybody has it to some degree or another. It settles somewhat to the bottom of the tank under the liquid propane.

When your tank is filled they pull liquid from near the bottom of the tank sucking up some oil which settles in your tank. Just depends on the condition of the supplier tank.

In the RV. The shake rattle and roll of driving down the road does an excellent job of mixing the oil and liquid propane. If you run propane while driving some may get splashed into the vapor line feeding your regulator and thus into the rest of the system.

When you stop, the oil will slowly settle out but as you use propane some may be entrained in the vapor. Imagine a bubble bursting and drops of liquid in the vapor. Takes days weeks, months, or forever for the oil to settle as I have seen it in the lines of sticks and bricks homes.

The smaller horizontal tanks commonly used in class B vans have little vertical height for the oil to settle out. The 5gallon vertical tanks used on trailers are better for settling oil and trailers tend to stay places longer. The 100 gallon vertical that stationary RVs use are better yet.

So.... we really donít have a way to keep oil out of our RV propane. Best bet, a distributor with a new tank.

Sorry to have rambled, hope it helps.
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Old 10-25-2019, 03:08 PM   #7
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I agree on the overfilling not being the cause of the "oil" in the propane lines or regulators, and yes you certainly can get big shot of oil from a supplier tank that has too much settled out oil.


I would add, though, that something else also seems to go on with propane tanks, regulators, and hoses because you can get problems in one application and not another with propane from the same supplier tank and time of fill. It happened to us several times with our home gas grille plugging the hose and grille with oil both not other applications like the van tank. When it happened for the third time with 20# grille tank (replaced each time) I finally got an explanation that seemed to allow us to take care of the problem, which hasn't occurred since (more than 5 years). The "oil" on the 20# tank would be all in regulator, hose and valve of the tank, it appeared, as when I emptied one of the tanks to get rid of it, when fully drained I tipped it upside down for many hours with the valve locked open, and no oil came out of it indicating it had oil sitting in it. The only oil came out at the initial opening of the tank valve for less than a minute of oily vapor.



Local, old school, gas grille and parts, propane, chimney cleaner, shop said that the issue appeared to be getting caused because of condensation in the hoses and regulators do to "breathing" of the gas in the lines and regulator as temperatures changed. He also said it only appeared to happen badly if those items had full pressure on them (vapors go from gas to liquid easier if at higher pressures and lower temperatures).



As the temps warm up, vapor fills the lines more as the pressure rises from the temp climb. It cools down, and some that vapor condenses and stays in the lines and regulator. Repeat ever day and eventually lots of trapped condensation.


His understanding was that the "oil" was the solvent for the odorant used in the propane, not the process oil we normally hear of from pump leakage or such.


The solution he gave was so simple it made think it couldn't possibly work, but it did.


When you are done using the propane, shut off the tank and bleed off the residual pressure in the line and regulator. The tank closing prevents the breathing issue and reducing the pressure reduces the ease of condensation and also removes most of the propane in the parts so very little to condense.


All this makes sense for us not having had an issue with the van, as we always turn off the tank after our uses of the propane. Plus the van sits inside a warm shop all winter (we are in Minnesota) so it doesn't see the big temp swings the other tank for the grille would see.


Proven fact, not really as only one sample, but it sure worked for us.


Interesting note is that I still had the propane containing last 20# bottle that gave us a problem when I talked to the guy. I cleaned out the regulator and hose (grille regulators can be cleaned easily) and blew out vapor until it wasn't oily and we used the rest of the tank without issue. We are still using that tank to this day.
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Old 10-25-2019, 03:13 PM   #8
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Very interesting. Thanks. Now I want to get a sample of the oil and have it analyzed. Not going to happen as no longer work at a place with a captive lab.

This would be a really interesting discussion to have with a process engineer in the propane industry.
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Old 10-25-2019, 04:20 PM   #9
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Hi: Interesting way to prevent build up of oil in regulator. Bleeding out excess gas in line from tank. Only issue is, it will take more time to start propane appliances like refrigerator/stove? I presume bleeding out leaves air in line now. So it will take a bit to turn on bleed out the air and replace with propane? Did you have an issue with starting furnace and refrigerator?

Thanks
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Old 10-25-2019, 04:24 PM   #10
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Mr. Heater makes a small portable heater that is fueled by those one pound green cylinders. You can run them off of a #20 cylinder with the proper hose and adaptor. However, Mr. Heater suggests the use of their filter on the line before the propane enters the built in regulator on the heater. The explanation from Mr. Heater is that the gas from the bottle entering the hose is very high pressure because the regulator is not on the tank, but on the heater. This high pressure gas removes things from the hose that are added to make the hose pliable and these oily chemicals will clog the heater. They offer another hose that is considerable stiffer but does not require the use of the filter.

Just thought this was interesting.
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Old 10-25-2019, 04:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rlum View Post
Hi: Interesting way to prevent build up of oil in regulator. Bleeding out excess gas in line from tank. Only issue is, it will take more time to start propane appliances like refrigerator/stove? I presume bleeding out leaves air in line now. So it will take a bit to turn on bleed out the air and replace with propane? Did you have an issue with starting furnace and refrigerator?

Thanks
We don't have a gas frig, so no issue there Furnace and water heater don't seem to have an issue, but can't say if it takes a bit longer or not.

You really don't get any air into the lines to the van appliances as the bleeding is always done the end of the propane line so it stays full of gas, with it just at no pressure. Almost all the time our bleed down comes at the end of the 15' hose to our traveling gas grille, which we use nearly every day when traveling. For furnace or hot water use, we do not bleed anything when done unless we are heading home and know it will be sitting for while.

I think the biggest issues come from longer term sitting, under pressure, and in widely varying temps and anything with regular use or consistently warm temps would not have much problem, but that is just a guess.
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Old 10-25-2019, 11:05 PM   #12
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Hi: How do you bleed out propane from lines? When I replaced my regulator. Starting the refrigerator on propane took a bit longer. Normally my refrigerator will start on the first or second strike. After propane regulator replacement, it took maybe 7-8 igniter strikes before it would ignite. After starting and leaving propane( no bleeding), it went back to igniting on a single strike or two. I was thinking maybe turn on stove with propane main switch off. Allow the burner to burn down so not more propane in line? This should bleed out my propane from regulator?
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Old 10-25-2019, 11:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rlum View Post
Hi: How do you bleed out propane from lines? When I replaced my regulator. Starting the refrigerator on propane took a bit longer. Normally my refrigerator will start on the first or second strike. After propane regulator replacement, it took maybe 7-8 igniter strikes before it would ignite. After starting and leaving propane( no bleeding), it went back to igniting on a single strike or two. I was thinking maybe turn on stove with propane main switch off. Allow the burner to burn down so not more propane in line? This should bleed out my propane from regulator?

Our normal process is to to shut off the main tank valve when we are through grilling then turn the grille regulator back on so it bleeds everything after the main tank valve, we do the same on home grille with the 20# tank. The stove should also do the same thing, I would think.
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Old 10-26-2019, 01:51 PM   #14
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Just going to throw out a question for those who have had and oil issue in the regulators or lines in their vans.


Were you in the colder areas of the country a lot, or stored outside in weather with large temp swings?


Perhaps we will be able to learn a bit more about what kind of things could be influencing the issue.
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Old 10-26-2019, 11:37 PM   #15
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I live in southern california. So coldest is above freezing. Summer days get to 100 but not often and never above. Today is about 90 in SC. On PW Facebook page, some owners have replaced several regulators in 2 years. Some owners even carry an extra regulator as back up because they do not want to have to purchase another brand of regulator?

It is an issue for some of us. I believe the colder temperatures may be an issue but I do not live in freezing area. I have read the brown oil comes from purchasing propane from low volume dealers, overfilling of tank, etc. I try to avoid. Having just replaced my propane regulator. I will install a valve to the quick connect for grill. After each trip, I will probably bleed out the propane. It is not a big issue to do this. Only bleeding out air when restarting propane appliances might be an issue.
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Old 10-27-2019, 01:21 AM   #16
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Since this is the first and only time I've looked at the regulator I couldn't say that it's a recurring problem. But since we bought this RT in 2016 we've never had a problem. It was only after we filled up in Alabama and used the propane 3 days later that we noticed the hissing noise. We had been using propane daily for 6 weeks up to that point, mainly fridge & stove. Our route was mostly along the south border, right around the Gulf coast to the tip of Florida then basically followed I-40 (except for Colorado Springs detour) until we hit CA onto 395 back to SF. We had days where we had elevation change of 5,000 ft. For the most part it was 90-F hot & humid.
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Old 10-31-2019, 07:43 PM   #17
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Default Leaky propane

The hissing sound may occur if the propane tank was overfilled and the temp was warmer a few days later which resulted in higher pressure. It's a safety feature so the task doesn't blow up when there is too much pressure. Once the pressure is down, everything is fine and the safety feature did it's job. This had happened to me
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Old 11-01-2019, 12:03 PM   #18
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We had the same problem with the regulator for the external grill connection. I forgot to close the propane valve before filling the tank. Some of the supply tanks are very high pressure and will blow out the connection between the two halves of the regulator.
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