Understanding Frosted Regulators And The Risk Of Propane Problems

4 January 2016
 Categories: , Blog


Many new homeowners with their first propane heat system find themselves startled and confused when they discover frost on the regulator of the tank. If this has happened to you, it's important to understand that most frosted regulators aren't a big deal. It is equally important, though, to know when it should be a concern. Here are a few things you should know if you're new to propane in your home.

What Causes Regulators to Frost?

Most instances of frosted propane regulators are a direct result of high ambient humidity. When you turn on your propane heater, the propane in the tank must be heated to boiling before the vapor will be released. That vapor is what the heater will rely on. When the vapor flows through the regulator, it has to reduce the vapor's pressure so that it's safe for your heater. To do that, the regulator has to chill the vapor to a temperature that's below freezing in order to expand it.

When the humidity in the air is high, it can create condensation on the regulator surface because the regulator is cold from cycling the propane through the line. That condensation then turns to frost because of how cold the regulator surface is.

When Is Frost a Bigger Concern?

In most cases, you can dismiss regulator frost as no big deal. There are, however, some instances when you should reach for the phone and call your propane supplier. If you notice a frosted regulator and the humidity levels outside aren't very high, you'll want to inspect the service valve. The valve should be upright. If it isn't, it could be drawing liquid propane into the system, which could completely freeze the regulator.

Additionally, if you've recently had your tank filled, there's a chance that the propane delivery company overfilled the tank. This can cause similar problems. Your propane supplier can send someone out to inspect both the tank's propane level as well as the service valve placement. If necessary, they can even replace the service valve to keep the liquid propane out of the regulator and keep your system flowing properly.

Understanding frosted regulators and the signs of potential trouble can be important for any new homeowner with a propane tank. Talk with a propane supplier, like Apollo Propane Inc, about any concerns you might have and familiarize yourself with how your tank works to help avoid the potential for serious regulator problems and disruption of your propane supply.