Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Easy Fix for Natural Gas to LP or Vice Versa.

As if there wasn't enough to do in one day, the office sends me one more service call. The customers switched propane suppliers and get a little more than they bargained for. The technician found a leaking gas control and promptly shut the works down. "At least the hard part is done," I sighed as I went to the supply house to pick up the part and my newly repaired set of manifold gauges. Famous last words anyone?

DISCLAIMER: Follow ALL directions that come with the gas control and the conversion kit and when in doubt consult the services of a competent HVAC technician. This is serious stuff, and propane can asphyxiate, burn violently, and tends to settle in basements. Injury, death, or property damage in any combination can result from taking shortcuts. I have no control over the quality of your work, so perform this and any other fixes at your own risk.

The furnace was old enough to drive and had an electronic ignition with a separate pilot burner. These are pretty much obsolete, but many strive to keep these furnaces running well past their prime, as cars, plasma TVs, and the tablet computers have more visual impact. These furnaces are a ticking time bomb in may ways. Any money the customer saves on these is being wasted in higher utility bills and some monstrous repair bills that will arrive without any warning. The customer expected to pay about $200 on a gas valve, but ended up with one in excess of $520. If your furnace is over 10 years old, start saving for its replacement. If it's over 10 years old and needs over $250 in repairs, consider replacing it ASAP. Off my soapbox.

The gas valve went together in the usual way, but when I went to install the conversion kit to get this to run on propane (liquefied petroleum gas or LP) things got hairy. The propane kit on a Honeywell gas valve has a spring, adjusting screw, instructions, a black cap and a sticker. The adjusting screw is made of soft plastic with Torx or slotted screw molded in. They also have plastic teeth that make it tough to get it into the valve. This means that you use more force to screw it on top of the spring and the screw will promptly strip out. The fix is this: Follow the directions, but reuse the adjusting screw off the valve rather than the one in the kit. Just be sure to adjust the manifold pressure with a manometer to the proper setting. Be sure to use the spring, cap, sticker, but reuse that screw. That's it. Maranatha!

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