Contingency Planning

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Old 07-27-16, 10:08 AM
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Contingency Planning

Not sure if this belongs here, but it's a propane related question.

Back in December of last year, I bought a house with a buried 1,000 gallon propane tank. It didn't take long to realize that it's a REALLY expensive way to heat a house. I took on the cost of bringing natural gas to the house, which has about a 2-year payback according to my calculations.

I left only the hot water heater hooked up to the propane tank - everything else is now NG. The rationale is this: 1) the HW heater was the only appliance that could not be converted to NG, 2) the HW heater is a 75-gallon, power vent unit that will cost $1,500 to replace, 3) I have 800 gallons of propane to burn. Knowing that the HW heater has a 72,000 BTU burner, I figure I'll run out of propane early next year. At which point I'll bite the bullet and put a NG HW heater in. The plumber that did the NG conversion left me a plugged "T" near the HW heater so I can easily swing over to NG.

So the question is, when that HW heater does run out of propane can I hook up a BBQ grill tank to it where it connects at the 1,000 gallon tank to get me through the transition to NG? I figure a 20 lb. cylinder would last about a week. There are 2 regulators - one at the tank and another before the plumbing goes into the house. The fitting from the tank to the first regulator looks like it will go right into a 20 lb. tank.
 
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Old 07-27-16, 10:40 AM
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I think you are vastly overestimating how long a 20 pound LP tank will last when connected to your water heater (maybe seven hours burn time according to my calculation) but yes, you CAN connect a small tank to the piping through the regulator as you have described. The biggest problem will be in the type of connection you now have at the large tank/regulator combination.

A picture or three of your tank connection and regulator may help.
 
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Old 07-27-16, 01:34 PM
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It runs an average of about an hour a day, that's how I figured a week. Obviously some days are more than others depending on who is home, whether we run the dishwasher or washing machine, etc. I'd just be looking to run it off the 20 lb. tank for the period of time it takes me to source a new NG unit. Some number of days at most (not weeks or months).

Here's the regulator at the tank. The line comes out of the tank and into that red regulator, then the yellow hose goes underground to my house where it meets the second regulator:



Second regulator:



I have a full 80 lb. tank on my RV that I can tap into as well, but that would be a little trickier because I'd have to get the rig close to the tank and then run a hose to it.
 
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Old 07-27-16, 03:02 PM
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Easy peasy. Turn off the tank valve and disconnect the P.O.L fitting from the valve. Remember that it is a left-hand thread on that fitting. Connect to the small tank and with the fitting just shy of tight open the valve on the small tank and tighten the P.O.L. fitting. This is to try to eliminate air in the line. You will have to re-light the pilot on the water heater. If you didn't get the air out the pilot may need to be re-lit again later.

Obviously no smoking or open flames when changing the tank.
 
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Old 07-27-16, 04:13 PM
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Excellent - thank you! I'll limit the flamethrower use while changing tanks.

Phase II of the project is to get the 1,000 gallon tank out of here. I figure it would cost as much to remove it as its value to someone. Was thinking of seeing if someone would come remove it in exchange for me giving it to them. Or is that optimistic? It's 5 years old.
 
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