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Plumbing or HVAC Issue?

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  • Plumbing or HVAC Issue?

    I have an old 150 year-old farmhouse in rural Miss. which is occupied intermittently. It is heated with gas space heaters in various rooms, all served by a propane tank about 20 feet from the house. The tank and plumbing has been in location for at least 50 years (as long as I can remember) and I wonder if it should not be replumbed. I have not been able to locate any leak, but whenever we turn the tank back on after a period of disuse, it takes a while to get the heaters to light, as if air is in the line. The line from the tank is copper tubing which goes into the ground and emerges under the house where it converts to ½” iron pipe. From that point it goes from room-to-room by iron pipe. If I were to re-plumb this, what would be the best products to use? I would be working overhead in a crawl space, so black iron pipe would not be my first choice, although I have threading and cutting equipment. I would think flexible tubing of some sort would be the easiest to use in those surroundings. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Keep in mind the underground run from the tank to the house. Thanks, Thiggy

  • #2
    Re: Plumbing or HVAC Issue?

    For the pipe under the ground I would use poly, it is a yellow flexible pipe. How ever in CA you have to be licensed and certified to use it. If thats the case in your state machine wrapped rigid pipe will be fine. Inside you can use trac pipe, this is flexible stainless steal pipe with a poly jacket. This pipe is more expensive, how ever it will save you a lot of time. Again with trac pipe you have to be certified. I would check with your local plumbing supply(not home depot) they will be able to steer you in the right direction as far as what is aloud in your area. If you cannot find trac pipe black iron pipe should be fine.


    • #3
      Re: Plumbing or HVAC Issue?

      First off I will say that I am not very knoweldgable about gas plumbing and such nor plumbing in general. But I will say that when my RV it is not in use we turn the propane off. When we go to use it, it normally takes a couple of minutes for the gas to get flowing right again. This is normal if you turn off the tank that the existing proprane will eventually leak out over time from the lines and when you come back and turn the gas back on it will take some time for all the air to push out of the lines and gas flow properly again. In my RV, for example, when I am getting ready for a trip I will open the tanks then set the fridge to gas. It takes some time for the fridge to ignite and go well, so to help speed up the process I normally turn on a knob on the stove as well to help purge the lines quicker and when the stove lights the fridge will light almost immediately after.

      Not saying that is your problem, but since you mention "whenever we turn the tank back on after a period of disuse", it seems safe to assume that you will need to need to purge the lines again after being off so the heaters will take a bit of time to light.
      Still enjoying all 10 fingers!


      • #4
        Re: Plumbing or HVAC Issue?

        You could re-run the line in copper pipe. or trac pipe. easy to wok with. You may have hard time getting it. So copper may be your only choice.


        • #5
          Re: Plumbing or HVAC Issue?

          before the pipe enters the house have it exit the ground and then enter the house,

          if any under ground leak develops it will follow the pipe and if the pipe does not exit the ground then it goes under the house,
          neighbor lost his house that way,
          and a few weeks later, the furl on the copper line cracked and filled under our house with raw propane. That was close to 40 years ago now.

          It is now plumbed with coated gas pipe in ground and black pipe above ground.

          leak test all piping before hooking up to any gas source,
          Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
          "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
          attributed to Samuel Johnson
          PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.


          • #6
            Re: Plumbing or HVAC Issue?

            Why don't you cap off the connections to your gas appliances and fill the system with air through a gauge. Fill it to 15psi and see if it drops.
            the dog


            • #7
              Re: Plumbing or HVAC Issue?

              Originally posted by plumbdog10 View Post
              Why don't you cap off the connections to your gas appliances and fill the system with air through a gauge. Fill it to 15psi and see if it drops.
              A drop test will prove that there are no leaks today, but doesn't really tell you much about the condition of the line underground. Without going back and looking I think this has been buried for what 50 years? Along with the drop test (which is a good move, not knocking Dogs suggestion at all) it might pay to uncover a small section of the line where it is easily accessed and assess the condition of the line.

              This of course has its own set risks such as the potential to cause damage to line during excavation(careful hand-digging would be the way to go here), and then you need to backfill properly. Also, any chance that there is something else underground in the vicinity, better think about calling the locating service cause if you hit something else you could end up dead (buried power cable) or with an expensive repair bill. I know you said this is on a farm in a rural area but it may still be a concern. You may have all your power to outbuildings run overhead, I can't see that from NJ so just offering this as something to look out for.

              I would do the drop test for sure. If it holds 15 PSI for an hour or more and you Snoop all the exposed joints with no bubbles you can be reasonably sure there are no leaks. Snoop the valve stem on the bottle too in both the open and closed positions. How long has this particular bottle been in service at your house? The valve may close and isolate the gas in the bottle OK but on the back side of the seat if the stem packing leaks then the line pressure will bleed off slowly thereby causing the problem you face now. You could do this test first before disturbing anything else.
              1. Close all the stops at any appliance that has a standing pilot (you should not need to do this for pilot-less appliances).
              2. Open and the valve on the bottle and pressurize the line. Doesn't matter if it is bled off or not, as long as it is at normal pressure.
              3. Now with the line at pressure close the bottle valve. There will still be pressure in the line.
              4. Leak check the valve stem and the connection at the bottle. If you see bubbles around the stem then you have found the problem, but maybe not the only leak.
              5. Leak check whatever else you have access to easily and mark any leaks found. A piece of tape next to the joint is a good way to mark them.
              6. Now, you can either fix it yourself (if you are up to the task) or call a Plumber to have them fix it. Remember this is not water you are playing with it is fire, or at least fuel for a fire, so no shortcuts and take no chances. You should tell them that what is marked are the leaks that you have identified, but not necessarily ALL the leaks in the system. Have them do their own check otherwise they will repair what you have identified and be gone having done all that was requested of them and you may still have leaks yet to be discovered (maybe the hard way ).
              7. The bottle I believe will be the property of your LP gas supplier, so they would be the ones to turn to for repair of a leaky valve.
              All the above testing can be done without disturbing any connections. This is a good way to proceed because you have not introduced the possibility of any new leaks by messing with anything and this gives you a base line test to work from.

              Anyone have anything to add to this? No doubt I missed something.
              "It's a table saw, do you know where your fingers are?" Bob D. 2006



              1/20/2017 - The Beginning of a new Error


              • #8
                Re: Plumbing or HVAC Issue?

                Thanks all for the suggestions. Bob, the present tank is old - I am 60 and it has been in service for at least all of my adult years. There is no standing pilot on any of the heaters, they are all lighted with a match individually as needed.
                Last edited by thiggy; 06-14-2007, 11:37 AM. Reason: correct grammar