FAQ About Propane
Q: I hear a hissing noise from my propane tank. What is it?
A: It could be the fixed liquid level gauge (bleeder valve), which is opened by the delivery person every time the tank is filled with propane. On occasion, the bleeder valve is not closed completely, whether due to driver error or debris blockage. If this is the case, simply turning the bleeder valve clockwise will close the valve and stop the flow of gas. This is not unheard of and is easily remedied by simply closing the bleeder valve. The hissing noise could also be coming from the safety relief valve. On hot days when the sun is high overhead and a propane delivery has recently been made, the safety relief valve may open slightly allowing excess pressure to vent. If the relief valve is opened, the protective cap will be removed from the top of the valve from the pressure buildup. Do not look into the relief valve or tap it with anything. Doing so may cause the relief valve to open all the way. One way to remedy the situation is to cool the tank down by spraying water from a garden hose on the surface of the tank. This will generally cause the relief valve to close. Lastly, it could be the regulator humming and the pressure needs to be readjusted. Just call our office and a technician will be happy to stop by and readjust it for you.
Q: I open my LP gas cylinder valve and nothing comes out. What’s wrong?
A: The design of the OPD valve is such that turning the cylinder service valve hand wheel will not produce any effect if the cylinder is not hooked up to an appliance. In other words, a connection must be made between the appliance hose end and the cylinders service valve. The inside of the OPD valve is engineered to only allow propane in or out if the internal valve is actuated by being depressed. This OPD valve feature adds additional safety in case the hand wheel is turned, opening the valve. For this reason, OPD equipped cylinders will not allow gas out of the cylinder when opened. The same is true for industrial forklift cylinders. Also, the hose end connection on either a fill hose or appliance supply line is designed to work only with OPD equipped cylinders. For the OPD valve to operate with the hand wheel open, the hose end connection must be securely attached. The hose end connection has an elevated brass fitting which is surrounded by acme threads. When attached to a cylinder valve and tightened, the brass fitting will push the internal valve open and allow gas to flow out of the cylinder to the appliance, if the hand wheel is in the open position. This fitting must be in place for gas to flow out of the cylinder. Otherwise, turning the hand wheel will not produce the intended result.
Q: Why is my propane regulator covered in frost? Is it freezing up?
A: Freezing and frosting of propane regulators is quite common and usually nothing to be concerned about, provided everything is in working order and operating as it should. Frost can form on regulators connected to both propane cylinders and bulk (stationary) LP gas tanks. If in doubt about the safety of your regulator, turn off the tank service valve and contact your propane company. Further reading will help propane users understand the reasoning and causes of a “freezing” regulator. During normal operation propane regulators can become covered in frost, which may alarm some users. While this “freezing” of the regulator may be a symptom of a more severe problem, it’s usually is a sign that outside humidity is at a level capable of producing condensation. The only difference is, the condensation forming on a regulator is frozen. As described, propane regulators act as a barrier between high tank pressures and delivery pressure as required by downstream appliances and/or equipment. Once a propane appliance is actively in use, the liquid propane in a tank or cylinder begins to boil. The propane vapor, as boiled off the top of the liquid begins its journey downstream to the point at which it is used. Before making its way to the LP gas system piping, it passes through the regulator where its pressure is reduced to a usable level. Keep in mind that the regulator will only deliver a constant pressure on the outlet side while inlet pressures can significantly vary. As the propane passes through the regulator, it expands (resulting in sub-zero temperatures) and causes the regulator to gradually reach the extremely cold temperature of the propane vapor passing through it. Depending on the temperature and humidity of the surrounding air, the regulator will produce condensation, much like that of a frozen mug or glass taken out of a freezer. This is why, under normal operation in hot and humid climates, the external surface of a regulator will freeze and appear to be frozen or frosted. The rate at which propane is being withdrawn from the tank or cylinder will also cause the container to display a visible frost line, which indicates the liquid level of the propane within the tank. Although regulators can freeze under normal and “proper” operating conditions, there are times when regulators are freezing because of actual problems. One of the problematic issues causing a regulator to freeze is due to liquid propane entering and passing through the regulator. Liquid propane can produce an effect of extreme freezing when introduced abruptly into a regulator. There are two ways that liquid can be delivered through the tank (or cylinder) service valve: 1) If the container is overfilled or, 2) If the tank, usually a bottle, is not upright with the service valve communicating with the vapor space of the container. Both of these scenarios are possible and while avoidable, are not very common.
Q: Can I lock in my propane price when I order a delivery?
A: The only way to lock in a price is through our price protection program. Our customers who choose a variable “market” price plan cannot lock their price. These customers are charged a price based on the market price for propane on the day of delivery. That means a customer’s price on the day of delivery may be higher or lower than when they called to request the delivery. During the last heating season, propane prices started to rise, so on some days the price may be higher than when the customer called. In falling markets, our variable priced customers can potentially benefit from a lower price on the day of delivery.
Q: I just received a propane delivery. When is my payment due?
A: Unless you are on a budget plan or have pre-paid in advance, you have 30 days from the date of delivery to make a payment. Just like any business, we also have to pay our suppliers and employees, so we appreciate payment on time. If we haven’t received payment in 30 days, we’ll send you a friendly reminder. We know that sometimes life happens – a delivery slip may be lost, or could be put in the bill drawer. If at any time you are having trouble making a payment, please call or email us and we can arrange for a payment plan. After 30 days, 1.5% interest is charged per month.
Q: I have a credit on my account for my fuel. Why were the charges from my last service call deducted from this credit?
A: Charges resulting from interest, fuel surcharges, tax, service calls, labor, etc. are billed to the same account as your residential propane deliveries so they deduct from any credit on your account. However, your fuel credit will be replenished when payment is made for these charges.
Q: Can I paint my propane tank to match my house?
A: If the tank is leased by Garrow Propane, then no. Our Garrow tanks come painted a sliver/gray color with a tan hood. If your Garrow tank is starting to rust or the paint is chipping please contact our office and we will put you on the paint list. Every summer we repaint the tanks on the list for that year. If you own the tank, you can paint it if you’d like, but not any color you choose. All too often propane customers take it upon themselves to paint their tank a color that complements the colors of their home or landscaping. This presents a safety problem as well as a serviceability problem if the tank color is dark or non-reflective. Dark colors absorb heat while lighter colors reflect it. Have you ever worn a dark colored shirt on a sunny day? A dark shirt on a sunny day will make you much warmer than a white shirt. The principle is the same with LP gas tanks, and the last thing a propane tank needs is to absorb heat. Perhaps a better example is walking barefoot on the concrete sidewalk and stepping onto an asphalt street on a hot sunny day. Concrete sidewalks are fairly light in color (heat reflective) while asphalt streets and roads are dark in color (heat absorbent). The sidewalk is much more bearable to walk on while the asphalt road can be quite painful. Propane tanks need to reflect heat, not absorb it. The entire reasoning behind propane tank color involves pressure and some simple laws of chemistry that apply to fluids and gases when they are heated. The law “as temperature increases, volume increases” applies. Because propane exists as both a liquid and a gas within the tank, the absorption of heat due to a non-reflective color creates the possibility of a high-pressure situation that may cause the safety relief valve to open. The bottom line is this: Dark (Non Reflective) Propane Tank = Absorbed Heat = Propane Expansion = Relief Valve May Open.
Q: Why does propane smell?
A: In its natural state, propane is an odorless gas. As a safety precaution, a chemical called Ethyl Mercaptan is added so that any presence of propane may be easily detected. The concentration level of ethyl mercaptan that is added to propane is not harmful.
Q: Is propane dangerous to the environment?
A: No, propane is an approved, clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Propane is one of the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels. Tests conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency show that propane-fueled vehicles produce 30-90% less carbon monoxide and about 50% fewer toxins and other smog-producing emissions than gasoline engines. Propane also is nontoxic, so it’s not harmful to soil or water. In the event of a leak, propane will dissipate into a vapor, leaving no lasting effect on the surrounding environment
Q: How much can my propane tank hold?
A: Propane tanks are most commonly referred to by their water capacity volume, and propane tanks are normally filled to 80% of its water capacity. For example, a 120 gallon tank will hold approximately 100 gallons of propane when completely full. Since propane is stored in a liquid state under pressure, it needs room to expand into a vapor. This extra “room” that is in the tank allows for that expansion. Depending on the ambient temperature outside, propane may expand more or less.
Home Heating Oil Questions
Q: I just moved into a house with an oil furnace and I don’t know anything about it! How do I order oil?
A: You can order a specific quantity of oil, such as 125 gallons; you can have your tank filled; or you may want to budget a certain amount of money. In general, the more gallons of oil you purchase at one time, the lower the price per gallon is.
Q: Is there a best time of year to purchase heating oil?
A: It is best to fill your tank before the heating season begins. Keeping your tank full or at least mostly full in the summer will help prevent water buildup in your tank due to condensation.
Q: Is there a time of year when heating oil prices are lowest?
A: Sometimes the prices are lower in the summer. However, over the last dozen years or so worldwide market forces have been a bigger influence on energy costs than the season. That makes the concept of price timing a dicey game. Watching the diesel prices at the gas station is one way people can see pricing trends in heating oil. Local prices of heating oil are often different than the national scene. You are always welcome to track heating oil prices by calling us.
Q: What happens if I run out of oil?
A: Your furnace will stop running and you will need to order more oil. Restarting the furnace is usually as simple as pushing the reset button on the oil burner. If the reset button doesn’t work, you may need your lines bled. Garrow charges $35.00 plus tax and the service technician needs to get inside to the oil tank and thermostat.
Q: Is oil heat safe?
A: Yes, oil heat is very safe. Many say it may be considered the safest type of heat because it will not explode nor will it get so hot as to catch anything on fire. Yet oil heat is the warmest heat coming out of a heat vent. Thus it warms your home quickly, safely and cost effectively.
Q: Is it OK to burn diesel fuel in my oil furnace?
A: Yes. Heating oil is diesel fuel. It is dyed red to indicate that it is not legal to burn in a diesel vehicle because the red dye indicates that there were no road taxes paid with it. Putting diesel fuel into your oil tank is a good way to get yourself through an otherwise cold night and morning in the case that you let yourself run out when a truck cannot get to you until the next day. Better yet, call our office and ask about our Auto-Fill program.