Is there such a thing as "bad" propane?

Old 05-23-16, 12:54 PM
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Is there such a thing as "bad" propane?

I have a question more out of curiosity more than anything else, but first a backdrop:

I moved into a new house this past December. It is my first and last experience with whole-house propane. The propane company claims to own the tank (I say I own it - we're having a bit of a staring contest over it) and the contract stipulates that you have to buy the gas from them. Their per-gallon price is $0.60 higher than their next competitor. It's a 1,000 gallon tank. They had a very attractive introductory rate for new customers, but only delivered 400 gallons at that rate. I ran out of gas on a very cold February night. I paid their exorbitant, non-introductory rate for a true, 1,000 gallon fill (846 gallons, actually, when you leave room for expansion).

I hated them so much I paid ~$7,000 to bring natural gas to my house (trenching 500-feet to my house, inside plumbing and converting all of the appliances from LP back to NG). It's about a 2-year payback based on my usage when you consider the cost of NG vs. the current cost of LP. Plus it adds a bit of value to the house.

Anyhow, before I ran out of propane everything seemed fine. The oven didn't get as hot as I thought it should but it turns out the "professional" that converted it from NG to LP didn't set the regulator to LP - pressure was too low for LP. I didn't find that out until I converted it back to NG this past weekend. But I digress....

Once I ran out and got the 846-gallon fill, I noticed the fireplace glass was really sooty - could barely see through the glass after using it for a couple of hours. It's a direct vent and the outside of the house by the vent is all black with soot. When converting the furnaces, the plumber said they, too, were very sooty. Also, when they opened up the gas lines to disconnect from LP and connect to the NG meter the plumber said "you've got some bad gas" (I hear that from my GF all the time). It smelled really odd. I realize propane is odorless, but I do know what the mercaptan smells like. This was not it.

Anyhow, since switching to NG the fireplace has been squeaky clean - better than ever actually. Not a hint of soot anywhere.

So is it possible to get "bad" propane? Can the companies mix the gas with something else to save money? I'm super-suspicious of these people and was so happy to call them and tell them that I've disconnected all of my appliances except for my HW heater. It's a 3-year-old 75-gallon "power vent" unit that would cost me $2,000 to replace (not convertible to NG according to Rheem, the manufacturer). I kept it on propane until I blow through that 1,000 gallons I bought in February.
Old 05-23-16, 01:11 PM
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I seriously doubt that you got any "bad" propane but I do think that you had appliances that were never properly set up for propane. I've opened up both natural gas and propane piping systems that smelled really bad.
Old 05-23-16, 02:27 PM
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It's a 3-year-old 75-gallon "power vent" unit that would cost me $2,000 to replace (not convertible to NG according to Rheem, the manufacturer).

You need to replace the gas valve to an NG one and the orifice in the burner. If the orfice is not replaceable ( It should be though) Then a new burner..

I converted AO smith units often.

So I dont understand why rheem says you can.. I would want a more definitive answer why....

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