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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    pittsburgh
    Posts
    504

    How to measure volume of L.P. being used

    Does anyone know of an "in-line" flow meter, or gauge, to measure the volume of L.P. gas that is being used by a furnace? I've had a customer ask me about this but I'm not sure if I've seen anything other than the type of meter that natural gas companies would use for the main supply line. And I'm not sure if those type of meters could be calibrated for L.P. The issue in this situation is that the homeowner seems to be using an excessive amount of propane, (or at least the gauge on the L.P. tank says so) but doesn't believe the furnace could be using that much. The home owner is at the mercy of the propane supplier filling the tank properly and charging $$$ accordingly. I have checked the system and found that there are no leaks in any of the lines and the furnace is operationg properly with correct pressure settings and correct orifice's installed for the burners. It is a York 2-Stage furnace at @ 93.7% efficiency. (80,000 btu at high fire) The furnace is the only thing in the house using the propane and the house is also well insulated. Coldest temps in this area have been in the teens and the customer has had their 500 gal tank filled twice already this season. And now the gauge on the tank is nearing empty again. The homeowner and myself just don't believe the gauge on the tank is accurate, but the propane supplier is charging $$$ according to what the gauge says, and not the actual amount of propane in the tank. This is where it would be nice to have an in-line meter to measure exactly how much L.P. is being consumed and verify the problem with the tank. Any feedback on this issue would be greatly appreciated

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Huntsville,AL
    Posts
    4,125
    search online --
    &
    WWGRAINGER
    MCMASTERCAR

    what is their indoor t-stat setting?
    duct leaks?

    gal LP vs degreeday vs sq ft?

    what does LP supplier say?
    how does he know when to fill?

    LP trucks I have seen have gauge at "spiggot" which measures delivered quantity --
    Let customer ask when it was last calibrated.
    Customer can also ask bureau of weights & measures -- just like for gasoline pump check, maybe.
    harvest rainwater,make SHADE,R75/50/30= roof/wall/floor, use HVAC mastic,caulk all wall seams!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Rochester, MN
    Posts
    5,304
    Wow, that's a lot of gas!

    I think my parents burns about 1,000 in a year, and everything in the house is gas (Stove, dryer, fireplace, water heater, and furnace.)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    pittsburgh
    Posts
    504
    cem-bsee,
    T'stat supposedly kept at 70,, ductwork looks good with supplies & returns in every room (no ret. in kitchen or baths). H.O. hasn't talked to supplier yet. L.P. is filled after cust calls. I'm not too familiar with L.P. trucks. I am located within city limits and primarily see natural gas and some oil. I know oil trucks have gauges to measure delivered quantity but don't know about L.P. trucks. Even so, it's possible that the person filling the tank is only looking at what the gauge on the tank reads and not necessarily what they are actually putting in. Don't know when tank was last calibrated. Homeowner is new to this residence. I do know the propane tank is from 1989. Unless the H.O is opening all the doors and windows after I leave, then I just can't see using 900+ gallons of L.P. within 4 months time of 25 - 30 avg. temps. and a properly functioning high efficient furnace.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    pittsburgh
    Posts
    504
    mayguy,
    Yes it is a lot. The L.P. is dedicated to the furnace only. Everything else in the house is electric.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    2,729
    Just google propane flow meters and you'll find lots of them. The propane supplier has a meter on his truck, he doesnt go by the customers tank guage.

    Did the homeowner have the new furnace put in thinking it would be cheap now to heat his house with propane?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    manitowoc wisconsin
    Posts
    4,943
    Propane is sold by the gallon using a pump meter alot like the one at the gas station when you fill up.The propane company does not care what the dummy guage on the tank says they are not accurate & only intended for a general guideline.You have either a leak or an energy problem.Check the pressure regulators for leaking vents/failing diaphragams,the tank relief,tank valve packings,tank connections,all threaded & welded fittings on the tank,etc.
    a return air in an attic with a missing cap pulling in outdoor air could cause high gas usage,even more so if the fan is run in the on position.An energy audit & looking for leaks would be money well spent.
    You said you tested the lines I hope that meant the underground too especially if the tank was set in 89.Dead grass is a telltale sign of underground gas leaks.If there is a patch of dead grass between the tank & house then I would have a new line run even if it had to be on top of the ground for temporary if the ground is frozen.
    Last edited by markwolf; 02-23-2007 at 01:26 AM.
    Take your time & do it right!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Lancaster PA
    Posts
    67,776
    As Mark said check that duct work.

    Recheck your gas lines.

    Look at yur customers LP delievery ticket.
    It should be a printed ticket from the meter head of the LP truck, not a hand written ticket.

    Could have a dishonest delivery driver, that is topping his own tank before going to your customers house.

    Ask your customer to go out to the delivery truck as soon as it gets there next time. He should watch for the driver to insert the ticket. If the ticket is in the meter before the driver gets out of the truck. Have the driver cancel out that ticket and start a new one.
    Contractor locator map

    How-to-apply-for-Professional

    How many times must one fix something before it is fixed?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    37725, work @ 37760
    Posts
    412
    Had one like this last year & they found the leak in the underground tubing.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    pittsburgh
    Posts
    504
    The homeowner is new to this house and the furnace and L.P. tank was already there... I did a pressure check on all lines, including underground, and it tested OK. Also checked around all fittings at tank and regulator. No dead grass anywhere either. Doesn't seem to be a leak of any sort... There are no return ducts in any unconditioned space which would be sucking in cold air... As far as the ticket on the delivery truck, I don't know what the driver does. The delivery always comes when no one is home and then they send the bill later. The receipt/ticket is "printed" but only indicates % of fill "start" and % of fill "stop" and then calculated to gallons filled. It may be a dishonest delivery driver... That's what is trying to be determined. Like I said, the H.O. is new to this house and this is the 1st heating season for them. They have gone through and paid for 900+ gallons of L.P. already. And at $3.13 per gallon, that's an expensive heating bill for average temps in the upper 20's !!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Huntsville,AL
    Posts
    4,125
    honey bees also like propane --
    = good indicator of leaks
    harvest rainwater,make SHADE,R75/50/30= roof/wall/floor, use HVAC mastic,caulk all wall seams!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    pittsburgh
    Posts
    504
    Quote Originally Posted by cem-bsee View Post
    honey bees also like propane --
    = good indicator of leaks
    No honey bees that we're aware of. At least not yet

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,302
    You mention the customer not being present when the tank is filled, possibly indicating house is unoccupied during the day. Does the customer have a setback thermostat, and if so, how sharp of a setback is he using? IOW they might be using up a good amount of gas trying to get the house to occupied setpoint before anyone arrives home. Maybe not THAT much, but it's possible..
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

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