(grumble) Stupid Murphy…

So naturally, instead of socking in and snowing as promised, the sky cleared in the evening. Which meant it got kind of cold overnight. This actually would have been good news in a way, since both Landlady and I need a dump run. But early in the evening I’m sitting in the bedroom chair and thinking, “It’s getting kind of cold in here.” Went over to the space heater to find it was cold for the first time in nearly 3 months.

Grumble. Went out to check the propane. One bottle was dead empty, which was no surprise; I’d expected that. But the other bottle was heavy enough to be completely full, the valve was open, and apparently the bypass regulator just chose not to do its “keep Joel warm anyway” thing.

Swapped out the empty bottle, opened the valve, went inside to relight the pilot. Lighting the pilot is my only complaint about the new heater because getting it to bleed air out of the line can be a real ordeal. But it’s never taken quite this long – 40 dreary minutes later I finally gave up. The pilot wouldn’t light, I never got any whiffs of propane at all, the thing might as well have been hooked to nitrogen.

I went out in the mud to fiddle with the regulator a few times, thinking something must have gotten cranked the wrong way, but I see nothing obvious wrong. Finally just lived with it, which gave me a few rueful moments this morning: It got down to 21 degrees which is just not really that cold for mid-January. In any pre-heater winter the indoor temperature would have been perfectly acceptable but I was whining and grousing like I had a real problem. And I should definitely have put on a second sock before going to bed. I’m getting soft and forgetting useful cold-sleeping habits.


Today after I get the dump run settled I need to sort this out. I’ll start by just cracking the propane line below the heater to see if I can purge out a persistent bubble or something but I fear my brand new regulator took a dump on me. Which is irritating as hell but not the end of the world – I do have a spare.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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7 Responses to (grumble) Stupid Murphy…

  1. terrapod says:

    Joel, a tiny bit of moisture in the regulator and freezing temps = no workee. Don’t toss the old one, bring it inside and place in a warm area with all taps/valves open and let it stay warm for 24 hours. That might fix the problem. Also make sure the lines don’t have moisture in them. Best of luck

  2. DL says:

    I’ve had issues with the tank connectors on propane hoses…the plastic fitting that screws to the exterior of the tank valve, with very course threads. Many a time I would have a tank with propane that just wouldn’t flow so I’ve switched my hoses out to the older style that thread to the interior of the tank valve and have not had a problem since. If you use this type you’ll need a wrench to attach/remove but refrain from overtightening. (The end on these hoses I’m trying to describe resemble the ones used on the hose that the bulk tank fillers use in my area. Might have a closer look next time you get your tanks filled.)

  3. Robert says:

    See, the trouble with living vicariously through Joel’s blog is that the astute reader will notice Joel pretty much knows more than the reader about stayin’ friggin’ alive outside of a city. Which means those of us dyin’ to be (possibly un-)helpful know Joel already thought of whatever idiot thing we wanna suggest. Sigh.


    Does the regulator choke off gas flow if it thinks there is a leak, as would a backyard gas grill? I know you know this already and I don’t know if all regulators are created equal. Or something.

    I think of this because my {expletive} roomie keeps repeatedly-despite-instructions shutting off the tank valve BEFORE (or not-at-all) turning off the individual burners, meaning the next poor schlub will think the tank is empty. I am sure you let pressure build back up before attempting the relight. Sorry, I don’t know why I’m even typing this. Good luck.

  4. Howard says:

    You might try pouring boiling water over the regulator and immediately try priming the heater. It has worked for me several times but mainly with a cook stove or propane light lines. At least you don’t get -43F or colder. That’s the boiling point of propane and you either need to put heat on the tank or keep it buried in a snow bank.

  5. Ben says:

    Yes, my first guess is also ice. You could try dribbling a pan of warn water onto your regulator in hopes of melting the blockage.

    It could also be a “tripped” regulator. That sometimes happens when you change a tank and open the valve too quickly, There are a zillion u-tube videos out there for that issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaoI4frvhSQ

  6. Waepnedmann says:

    I am glad you have the wood stove as backup.
    You seem to have adopted the military montra ” Two is one. One is none.”
    Let us up you do not have to embrace the flip side of that which is “Ebrace the suck”.

  7. Ro says:

    The new generation of propane tank vales shut down for both overfilling and for sudden pressure changes (like big leaks). There’s a method of calibrated dropping of the tank to reset the valbv and allow gas flow.

    By the way the hose connection with the external threads on the tank and a plastic coupler is desgined to melt away in a fire and allow the tank to vent before it has a Bleve which would be worse than a propane fed fire.

To the stake with the heretic!