Skip to comments.Is my propane company committing fraud or creating a safety hazard? (New Hampshire vanity)
Posted on 02/06/2013 8:52:17 PM PST by AlmaKing
Yes, this is a vanity, but I figure some Freepers might have better answers than what I'm finding in web searches.
EnergyNorth Propane made a delivery to my tank this morning. My tank was already 70% full. I have not been using my furnace for heating this winter, not once. I've relied on 2 space heaters, so I have essentially converted to 100% electric heat which is a lot cheaper than using the propane furnace that came with the house.
The bill indicated 70 gallons of propane was delivered at $3.17 per gallon and also indicated the initial tank fill percentage was 70% and the final fill percentage was 80%. I knew something was wrong because my tank holds only 220 gallons and 70 gallons would be a 30% fill-up.
I inspected the regulator and found the tank fill percentage was 100%. I took pictures of this. Per my contract, they are supposed to fill the tank to a max of 80% to avoid leakage.
They've done this two months in a row. They know I have not used propane for the whole winter, so they're losing money on me.
Is this billing illegal?
Is filling a residential propane tank to 100% capacity a safety hazard and/or illegal?
Did you ever think about moving to Texas?
It’s not a lot but there is some
Given that most floor registers are located at the outer walls of the house, that is also where one would expect windows to be. It’s not always exactly that way.
Well that might be where much of your air gets scarfed up by your propane furnace, if it isn’t an ordinary cold air return.
Also, if the hot air ducts pass through that chilly crawl space, they could lose heat to the crawl space by conduction and leakage — and if the cold air ducts also do, they could be feeding needlessly cold return air to the furnace. Covering them with insulation would fight this.
I always put windows on the outer walls.
That makes sense, unless you are mounting an aquarium.
BUT, registers might be on the outer walls and still not exactly under windows. I had a house like that. One notable register is located to the side of the dining room by the stair well rather than under a window. Another is in front of a closet at the end of a hall that is windowless except for the window in a door leading to the outside.
I believe those are called ‘pass throughs’ in the building trade not windows.
Most are and a heating contractor gave me the explanation I recounted in post #31. I guess YMMV. If there is no register under the window there will be more cold induction from the window.
I did account for 'other locations' in post #37.
Another is in front of a closet at the end of a hall that is windowless except for the window in a door leading to the outside.
Putting a register next to an exterior door is a really bad idea. Too much debris would fall into it from the traffic. I would question the competence of any contractor who did that.
Ideally a window will be fitted with a curtain heavy enough to shut off most air circulation against it when the temperature differential between the outdoors and the inside is great.
Propane tanks have valves that release pressure, if there’s too much pressure in the tank. I saw one of these fail spectacularly on a 100 degree day on a 500 gallon full propane tank. The cover blew off, flew about 30 feet. Then the propane all leaked out over the next 2 days.
1. Your propane tank is much too small. Propane prices vary throughout the year. August-Sept is usually the least expensive. Try to get a 500 or even better a 1000 gallon tank and have it filled completely at the end of summer.
2. Stop your auto fill program. This does nothing but insure that you will buy propane during the winter, when prices are highest. Top off at the end of summer and monitor level every two weeks. Write it down. If you go below 20% full order 100 gallons. This way you end the winter with tank almost depleted and buy the least propane possible during the high price winter months.
3. Your immediate problem is that the tank is overfilled at 100% and is a safety hazard. They should come back out and lower tank level to 80%. They should meter the gas coming out and give you a refund.
4. When your contract ends call every propane company in the area. Get tank rental prices and propane prices. The first propane price they will quote you is for yoiur initial fill. This will be a very good price. Ask for the second fill price, and the third. They jack up the price pretty high after the first “loss leader” price on the first fill.
Unless you need the propane for something other than heating have them pull the tank. Just get rid of it if you aren’t using it.
It’s what we did. We too went to space heating only those areas of the house we actually use in the mornings, and evenings we use the fireplace when it’s cold, and damp.
We have a central heating system house. The electricity for the blower, and the propane for the heat became a budget issue. It’s just one “H” of a alot cheaper to use the space heaters in the bath, the bedroom, and the kitchen for an hour or so in the morning while getting ready for work, than to crank on the electricity, and the propane to heat the whole house with the central unit.
Much better off without the central unit.
Owning one’s tank is a big advantage.
Also, consider buying a propane contracts before the season. In 8 years, I have come out ahead 7 of the years.
I replaced a 10 yr old gas unit w a more efficient hybrid system (heat pump/propane). My propane use dropped 40% and my electric dropped 15%.
People in the air conditioning business are trained to never fill their refrigerant tanks beyond roughly 80% as it creates the possibility of violent explosion. I’ve done enough research on propane (which happens to be an excellent refrigerant, but rarely used, by the way), to know the same applies there.
Here’s the problem: Liquid propane expands as it is heated up in a tank. As long as there is empty room in the tank, the liquid propane will slowly fill that empty volume - the empty volume is really just gas propane (we call it two-phase propane). As the propane climbs in temperature, its pressure slowly builds up providing there is room in the tank for expansion (we call this pressure the vapor pressure). The tanks are made to take this pressure build-up with temperature, probably to as high as 150F, providing there is room for liquid expansion in the tank (i.e., it never becomes “full” of liquid only). A tank that is 80% full at 32F will probably not fill up until at least 120F, which is why they only fill to 80%
The problem occurs when there is no more room for expansion of the liquid. In that case, the liquid will still try to expand, but instead will press on the walls of the tank, trying to make the tank bigger. This pressure increase per unit temperature increase in this situation is huge, and no tank can withstand it very long. Once the tank is full, you can get away with this type of expansion for maybe a 10 degree increase in temperature (20 degree at best). At that point something bad will happen. If things work properly, the tank will vent when a certain pressure level is met. If things do not work properly the tank will rupture. Neither outcome is good. Even if the tank just vents, there’s a risk that the vent will not seat properly, and there will then be a leak.
People in that business are (usually) highly trained and should never, ever, fully fill up a tank. The company providing the service should have their license pulled if they’re doing that. As to your case, it’s possible that the company is really filling to 80% and has some other way to verify (i.e., they are not using your gauge), but I don’t know enough to tell you if it’s possible.
So, if the tank still looks full, maybe call out a different company and ask them if they agree it’s full. If it is full, I would call someone from the state that regulates them (in Texas it’s the Railroad Commission, don’t know in your state) and show them the problem, as you’re likely not the only customer they’re doing this to.
In any case, you should try to get that tank down to 80%, in a safe manner before the outside weather warms up too much - maybe run the house heater higher.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.