How to prevent your LP gas valve from getting stuck

3

by Russ and Tiña De Maris

Gas valves on LP bottles can stick “shut” after refilling, even if the valve handle is opened to full. There are a couple of reasons, and usually the fix is simple.

Here’s a routine that will help you figure out if your tank is acting out of sorts and not passing gas as it should. Assuming that your propane regulator is equipped for two cylinders and automatically switches over to another cylinder when one goes empty, it’s an easy “tell” if your cylinder isn’t opening as it should.

Leave the regulator lever pointed to the cylinder that still has LP in it, and connect your “fresh” cylinder up. Now switch the lever over to the filled cylinder – but leave the valve closed. The indicator flag on the regulator should show that cylinder as “empty.” If it stays flagged as “OK,” then light a burner on your stove to draw gas from the cylinders. Now the flag should indicate an “empty” for your recently refilled cylinder.

Open the valve just a tiny bit, slowly. Now the indicator flag should show “OK”. Proceed to open the cylinder valve completely. If the flag doesn’t show OK when you gently open the valve, most likely the OPD safety valve is stuck closed.

To resolve the stuck valve, disconnect the cylinder from your regulator and firmly smack the bottom of the cylinder on the ground, jarring it. There’s no need to be gentle about it, smack it hard. This will generally loosen the stuck OPD valve. Now repeat the hookup process as outlined above. This time the flag on the regulator should indicate OK. Open the valve fully, and be sure to switch the regulator lever back to the other cylinder.

Rapidly opening the valve on a fresh cylinder often results in a stuck valve situation and can be prevented by the “slow and gentle” method of cracking the gas valve. If your regulator flag still shows your full cylinder as empty, repeat the “LP Cylinder Smack Down” routine again. If it still fails to respond, you’ll need to lug it back to the LP dealer for help.

##RVDT1345

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Billy Bob Thornton
2 months ago

Here a quick fix on the 20 lb. tank problem. Turn the valve off, flip the tank upside down and bang it on the steel welded cage handle bracket that is part of every 20 lb. tank design. A few good raps will dislodge the swing arm that is stuck in the closed position. The failsafe system sometimes locks closed, and you need a blunt force to swing the internal valve arm back into the flow position.

Stan Wutka
2 months ago

I thought the valves were time delayed, if you had a leak, where the propane escaped fast the safety valve would shut down the flow of propane. I thought all you had to do was wait 5 minutes and then slowly open the valve. This is all part of going to OPD fittings on the tanks.

Bruce Brownell
2 months ago
Reply to  Stan Wutka

It’s not a time delay. If the valves are the same principle as the ones on the tank cars we had at work there is a small bleed hole in the valve. If the flow is higher than the design (open the valve too fast or a hose ruptured) the excess flow valve slams shut. If the reason was that the valve was opened too fast then the small bleed hole allows the pressure to equalize on both sides of the valve and then either gravity or a spring(depending on design) will open the valve. If it was because of a large leak the pressure doesn’t equalize and valve stays shut with a very small amount of gas escaping. (Same thing can happen on your barbecue if you have a control valve open when you open the tank valve and hear the valve “click”)