New to propane, could use hints! : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Hello. I've been offered an extended housesitting "gig" in an (700 sq.ft.?) trailer home in the country. In exchange for the sitting I'm offered utilities-only expenses. The furnace and stove are both propane, but I'm not sure about the clothes dryer. My only experience with either natural gas or propane was a friend's oven taking a while to "catch" and then attacking me by blowing the oven door open and smacking me on the kneecaps; an experience which sent me twitching back to the microwave for months! :0 I could use some input in at least these areas (and probably many more): --What should I expect to pay for propane in this part of the country this fall/winter (SE Nebr.)? --How often should I expect to have to incur new propane bills? I'm unsure of tank size. Perhaps 500 gallons? Last year the owner said his bills averaged $100/month, but we were faced with a pretty tough winter and, judging by a thread started here in Jan.2001, propane seems to have been priced "surprisingly" high then? --What should I know to keep myself alive and unscorched in propane-fueled living quarters? --Anything else you think a newbie to propane who grew up in an all-electric home should know?

Many thanks -- Rebecca in SE NE

-- Rebecca in SE NE (, September 23, 2001


Propane, being heavier than air will sink into a basement or other lower space, leaks can be found safely by placing soap suds on the suspected area, the bubbles will erupt at the leak point. When your tank is near empty there will be an odor assoicated with the propane. This is harmless except for the odor ( its a floro carbon named ethyl mc captaine; my spelling may be off). Most modern appliances have a safety feature built in that shuts off the gas if in the event of the pilot going out. When your tank is empty and a new one is installed the pilot must be relit, this involves turning a dial to the "pilot light" position, holding in a spring loaded button (usually red) and waiting for the air to be pushed out by the flowing gas, have an experienced person show you where to do this. The pilot flame should be about 1/2 inch tall, blue on the bottom and yellow on the top. Any flammable liquid such as gasoline, charcoal lighting fluid, ect. can give off fumes that are heavier than air, sink to the floor, and be ignighted by the pilot flame, causing a flash over that will toast you. Do not use them anywhere near a pilot flame. During any constant use of propane there will be a frost line form on the tank at the point where liquid propane turns to gas, this is normal and is more detectable during warm weather.

-- mitch hearn (, September 23, 2001.

The cheapest way to get propane is contract now for your purchase thru the winter.That way you lock in the lowest prices. Trailers are NOT insulated well so expect your costs to run on the high side.

Propane folks are great. Call and ask them when they come to fill to please check your inside lines and show you how to turn on and off all the appliances.

Also, since it is a trailer on nights below freezing make sure and leave a couple faucets on a slow run to prevent pipe freezing.

-- Stacia n OK (, September 23, 2001.

I am also a newbie propane user also and we don't have a clue either. We called the propane company and they sent someone out to look at what we have (we have 5 wall unit heaters) and to determine what would be the best size tank, explain the use, etc. Then they come out with the tank, light our pilot lights and explain to us how to use our heaters, as well as to check out our heaters to be sure they are functioning okay. I was surprised how much they do. I thought they just delivered the stuff!

I have never had any type of gas and am a bit nervous about it since I have been hearing horror stories about gas/propane use! But they assure us that if your units are working properly it is safe. Okay...I'll take thier word for it or freeze!

We are in Virginia and our price is $1.28. They come and refill the tank every month, but you only pay for what you use. They told us to heat our entire 10 room house with the 5 heaters it would cost around $120 a month at the current price.

Best of luck to you!

-- Karen (, September 23, 2001.

I rented a trailer house while I was on a contract over in eastern Iowa, so the weather should be comparable to what you get.

I would think that the $100/mo is probably about right - depending on the price of gas. I was on budget for $75/mo and ended up with a balloon balance at the end of the season. As others suggested, contract for the fuel to lock in a price and they may be able to set you up on a budget as well, so you pay the same amount each month. Check to be sure that they check your tank and fill when needed. Otherwise you need to check it and call when you need a fill. You should keep an eye on it anyway, just in case you use more than usual because of a cold snap. You really don't want to run out.

Most likely the clothes dryer is propane too - most older trailers had them.

The biggest thing with the stove is if you don't hear it light within a several seconds, turn it off and let it set for a few minutes and try again. If it still doesn't light, have a service man look at it. The igniters on the top of my stove no longer work, so I use a match, but the oven one still works.

-- beckie (, September 23, 2001.

To be on the safe side, be sure to get carbon monoxide detectors and change the batteries just as you do your smoke detectors. You should put one outside your sleeping quarters and one near your heat sources. What, no smoke detectors either? Well, get them as well. In addition to being poorly insulated most mobile homes can go up quickly in a fire. If possible, sleep in a room near an exit door.

-- marilyn (, September 23, 2001.

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