Man ‘o Manometer

Doing-It-Yourself Has Its Benefits

Are you a do-it-yourselfer?  Living in Sharps Chapel, TN, sometimes it comes in handy out of necessity.

Such was the case earlier this spring when we ran into a problem with our RV trailer a few days before our first planned trip of the season.

Jim was going through all the systems to make sure they were working.  He noticed that our propane furnace was not coming on.  This was a concern because we were heading north to Cincinnati Ohio and it was getting down to around 30 degrees F in the evenings.  The heat pump would not work when it was that cold.

We called the authorized dealer, located 1 1/2 hours away.  They were pretty confident that they knew what was wrong but they had a 2-3 week lead time for repairs.  Not an option.  We had non-refundable reservations at a campsite and tickets to the Ringling Brothers Circus that couldn’t be rescheduled.

We needed to either fix it ourselves or drive up instead and stay at a hotel.

Well, Jim is a do-it-yourselfer.  He enjoys the satisfaction of figuring out problems and has had great success teaching himself how to do things using YouTube.  He started running some diagnostics to see if he could figure out the problem.

He learned that as he turned on devices that used the propane gas, such as the burners on the stove, each one that was turned on weakened the flame of the previous burners until eventually they would not ignite at all.

Jim’s hypothesis:  it was a pressure problem and our LP gas pressure regulator had gone bad.

To test and confirm this, he needed a tool called a manometer.  And it so happens that you can make one fairly easily.  Here is how to make your own U-Tube Manometer.

Jim drove to Duncan Lumber in New Tazewell to get the plastic tubing and other misc. items that he needed.  While he was out, he stopped by Bi-County Propane, where we get our propane tanks filled.  They just happened to have the exact replacement part that we needed, if indeed that was the problem.  Knowing that he could return it if he didn’t need it, he purchased it just in case.

My only part in this was to supply some dye to color the water in the tube to make it easier to read.  I had an Easter egg coloring kit with dye pellets that did the trick.

Sure enough, this tool confirmed that the pressure regulator at the tank was not readjusting the gas pressure as it should, to deliver more pressure as more devices required gas.

Long story short, we were able to depart on time with a fully working furnace and enjoyed the circus immensely!