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View Full Version : Anyone hooked up to a private gas well for house gas? Need some advice.


jkski
02-27-2013, 08:07 PM
I am in the process of building our new home and we are connected to a private gas well that is located on the property for our gas supply. The gasline from the well to the house is roughly 500' of 1" line and we have 40lbs. of pressure at the well head. When the gas comes off the well head it goes into a lil joe regulator that is set at 12lbs. then over to a drip tank and the meter before making the 500' run to the house where we have a gray pancake regulator it passes thru and the into the house.

So, my problem is that the safety valve or plunger on the pancake regulator trips at some point during the day or night shutting the gas off and I am not knowledgable enough in this area to figure out why so I turn to you guys. I was told by the guy who services the well that my house may be drawing more than the well can produce but somehow that just does not make sense in that if I have 40lbs at the wellhead and am turning that down to 12lbs before it hits the house regulator, I should have plenty....right? I am not sure at what point the gas is actually turning off as I am not there to see it but I do know that when I pull the little plunger pin back out on the pancake, the gas flows just fine all day?

Any ideas?

CruisinGA
02-27-2013, 11:19 PM
You may have 40lbs some of the time, but not necessarily all of the time.

Post some pictures and more details on the regulator and just what is popping.

snork
02-28-2013, 09:47 AM
Whats the gas pressure after the 500' run?

jkski
02-28-2013, 11:04 AM
The pressure after the run is being controlled by the pancake regulator at the house and it comes pre-set from the factory. From what I have learned it typically gets reduced to ounces once it passes thru the pancake as that is what the furnace and various appliances require.

The plunger that keeps popping, from what I have learned, does so when the gas supply drops. This is a safety feature to prevent gas from free flowing into the house to any appliances that have a pilot, so that when the gas comes back on, it can not just fill the house with gas. With 40lbs at the well-head and the natural loss/pressure decrease that takes place as it travels, I can see where it is possible that the well is simply not pushing enough to replenish the line in enough time to keep the pressure up and the plunger from being sucked-in/shutting the gas off. The other possibility is that the regulator has moisture in it and is freezing with the temp fluctuations we have been having, so I will likely try to take it off this weekend and pour alcohol into it to at least eliminate that variable.
In addition, I think I will pickup a pressure gauge and put it inline at the house before the line enters the pancake to see what my decrease is over the 500' run. It may not be a bad idea to add yet another gauge after the pancake to see what I have just before it enters the house.

The end solution to this may likely be to connect to the local gas supplier as a backup source and install a valve that allows the backup supply to flow when the well gas shuts off. The problem I see with this is that I will not know when this takes place so I could end up running on the backup source far more than I need to. Anyone have any experience with this type of setup?

captain planet
02-28-2013, 11:16 AM
The pressure after the run is being controlled by the pancake regulator at the house and it comes pre-set from the factory. From what I have learned it typically gets reduced to ounces once it passes thru the pancake as that is what the furnace and various appliances require.

The plunger that keeps popping, from what I have learned, does so when the gas supply drops. This is a safety feature to prevent gas from free flowing into the house to any appliances that have a pilot, so that when the gas comes back on, it can not just fill the house with gas. With 40lbs at the well-head and the natural loss/pressure decrease that takes place as it travels, I can see where it is possible that the well is simply not pushing enough to replenish the line in enough time to keep the pressure up and the plunger from being sucked-in/shutting the gas off. The other possibility is that the regulator has moisture in it and is freezing with the temp fluctuations we have been having, so I will likely try to take it off this weekend and pour alcohol into it to at least eliminate that variable.
In addition, I think I will pickup a pressure gauge and put it inline at the house before the line enters the pancake to see what my decrease is over the 500' run. It may not be a bad idea to add yet another gauge after the pancake to see what I have just before it enters the house.

The end solution to this may likely be to connect to the local gas supplier as a backup source and install a valve that allows the backup supply to flow when the well gas shuts off. The problem I see with this is that I will not know when this takes place so I could end up running on the backup source far more than I need to. Anyone have any experience with this type of setup?

jk, one of the guys I work with has free gas at his house. I'll run this past him to see if he has had anything similar to this happen to him. We have free gas at the boat club to heat the club-house and over the winter we would have the same problem with the plunger collapsing shut as you mentioned. We haven't had that problem in a while....but at the same time I don't know what the fix was.

CP

jkski
02-28-2013, 02:20 PM
Thanks CP.
For what it is worth, I just spoke with the contractor who has been out at the site everyday and the last time he had to pull the plunger back out was on Tuesday morning, otherwise it has been running just fine since then without the gas shutting off. We have not changed anything, the outside temp has been a little more consistent but otherwise no variable have changed.

captain planet
03-01-2013, 04:01 PM
jk, the guy at work said that you may need to get a 'little-joe'. He said what is happening is at the well head where the pressure goes from 40 down to 12 there is an orifice and when the weather changes moisture builds up inside the line and freezes which cuts your gas and causes the pancake valve to close at the house because of the pressure loss. He said the 'little-joe' is a heater that you put on to keep the line warm and prevent condensation at the pressure change location. He said they are around $100-$120. He also said if there is already one installed on the line, it may need to be 'activated' which you do with a battery.

I'm no expert, but this is what he had to do and he said when the weather changed temperatures sometimes he would have to go out several times a night to keep it going. After he installed the 'joe' his problem was solved.

Hope this helps. If it doesn't, I'm sending in the punter.

Ski-me
03-01-2013, 04:16 PM
Fisher Little Joe Regulator.

We deal mainly with the big pipe and gas transmissions but nothing down to residental. I've heard of Big Joe's but not Little Joe's. Anyways, here is an example of one but it looks REAL small. Like, for a BBQ but same concept I believe.

Mainline pressure can range from 500psi to 1,000psi....just depends on the gas line. Getting free gas is an amazing deal so I'm quite envious! Hope this helps!

jkski
03-01-2013, 04:26 PM
Thanks guys. I have not had a chance to take photo's yet but we do indeed have a Little Joe in place which is regulating the gas pressure from 40 down to 12. That being said, I have been told aboutthe condensation issue and it has been suggested that I remove the little joe, pour some alcohol into it and then empty it out to clean out any possible condensation. I am a little reluctant to do this right now since the gas has been flowing without issue for a few days (don't mess with it if it is working!). I will have to look into the battery heater as I think that would be a better long-term solution.
Thanks for the advice guys, it is much appreciated and I will post some pics of the set-up tomorrow.

chico
03-01-2013, 04:28 PM
When was the last time the well was bailed,it should be done every year,thats why it`s freezing up.

jkski
03-01-2013, 04:53 PM
Not sure on when it was last bailed but it gets treated about once each month from what I was told. I actually just got a call from the contractor stating that the gas kicked off today, so it looks like I spoke too soon in my earlier post. I am going to take the Little Joe off and try pouring alcohol into it to get rid of any condensation and see what happens.

chico
03-01-2013, 05:53 PM
Is the 500 foot run underground?

jkski
03-02-2013, 05:24 PM
Is the 500 foot run underground?

Yes, all but the last 3 feet or so on either end are below ground at least 24 inches (had to go 24 inches in spots to avoid hitting burried oil well lines.)

jkski
03-02-2013, 05:37 PM
As promised, here are some pics of the set-up we have, I apologize for the poor quality, I was taking these last night while there trying to clean the Little Joe with alcohol.

In looking at it last night, I noted the well head gauge was reading 60psi then the line goes to the Little Joe after which we have another gauge which was only ready 5-6psi before the line heads over to the drip tank and meter after which it goes into the 500 foot run to the house where it hits the pancake regulator prior to entering the house.
So, I shut the gas off, pulled off the Little Joe and poured some alcohol into it then poured it back out and repeated the process again, trying to get any possible condensation out of it. When I pulled off the Little Joe I noticed that the plastic/round end which enters the pipe to restrict the flow of gas, had about a 1 inch long narrow piece of plastic coming off of it, I actually thought it was an icicle at first but it wasn't, it kinda looked like a deformed portion of the restrictor plate. I did not get a pic of it but will do so tomorrow.
Long story short, I put everything back together and the gas ran without issue all night and so far all day today. I am not sure what to make of the 5-6psi reading that I am getting after the Little Joe as that was originally set at 12psi but I did not want to mess with it as it was running fine......we will see what tomorrow brings!

Any thoughts. Is 5-6psi good enough to send thru the line to run the furnace?

jdnsx
03-02-2013, 08:42 PM
I know with water when you do a long run of 1" pipe at the outlet end you will have the same pressure but very little volume. When many of your gas appliances use at the same time could your available volume drop so low your safety valve is closing.

Does gas work this way??

CruisinGA
03-02-2013, 10:16 PM
I set up 2000 horsepower and larger engines on less than 2 lbs of gas... just need a big enough pipe!

As long as you still have 5-6 pounds under load then you should be fine. Just depends on the ability of the regulator to flow enough volume.

chico
03-03-2013, 12:20 PM
Most wells I service use 2" piping at the well head,I have never seen a little joe,all the ones I work on use sprague reducing valves,the bigger the pipe dia. the better.

chico
03-03-2013, 02:47 PM
Most of the wells I service have 2" piping at the well head,I have`nt seen the little joe reg,we use sprague regulators.

jkski
03-09-2013, 07:48 AM
So, I spent some time educating myself on the way wells work, etc. and while I am no expert, between the advice I've gotten hear and what I have gathered from other sources, I feel better about messing with things.

So, went out to the well head on Tuesday evening and while the pressure gauge coming off the well head was reading nearlu 60psi, the one after the gas passes thru the Little Joe Regulator was only reading 2-3psi. This gauge just seemed very odd and looked like it did not work right so I shut everything down and removed it.....after taking all pressure off of the gauge and reseting it, it never moved from the 2-3, in fact I dropped it once and it went up to about 6 and stayed there for a while. So, I went to Lowes, bought a new gauge, put it on, turned the gas valves back on and the new gauge did not move. I proceeded to adjust the Little Joe slowly from where the oil company rep had it set and the pressure started to rise on the gauge so I stopped it at 11psi and I have not had a problem since.

Moral of the story....if you are going to judge the pressure in your line by a gauge, better make sure it works properly!!!!! (At least that is what I am going with today but I do feel more confident that I found the problem).