Nearing the end

Our very large propane tank.
The solar heater is dicey, but it can work. It’s our second. The first was useless.

OUR PROPANE tank is almost empty.

Normally, the response is to phone the gas company, and they send a tanker truck, usually the same day, and refill it.

But we have a problem. There’s a gizmo that sits inside our tank, and it tells us, via a gauge outside, the level of the propane. That gizmo has gone on vacation!

This happened almost two years ago.

Since then, the gizmo decided to start working again, so it’s been filled a time or two. A fill-up lasts almost six months. But now it’s not working again. Our plumber says the gizmo cannot be changed unless the tank is empty.

If you knock on it with your knuckles, you get an empty sound, but there remains some gas in there because the stove and water heater are still functioning fine.

When the gas runs out, we’ll call the plumber pronto. Whether he comes pronto is another matter.

You know how we Mexicans are.

Both our stove and water heater rely on gas.

We have a second water heater — solar-powered — on the roof. However, it’s temperamental. Sometimes the water is blazing hot, sometimes not, sometimes tepid.

The kitchen stove is considerably less of a problem because we have another stove out in the pastry workshop, and it’s on a different gas tank.

And if the solar water heater totally fails, we can always drive the 15 minutes to our Downtown Casita, which is currently unoccupied, to take showers.

A few months ago, our plumber told us that the measuring gizmo inside the tank almost never malfunctions. He’d never known of it to happen. Lucky us.

* * * *

(Note: We have more gas tanks, water tanks and pumps than you can shake a stick at. I could be a survivalist kook.)

16 thoughts on “Nearing the end

    1. Ricardo: I lack the essential element to be a survivalist kook. I have no portable generator. Never needed one. But you never know. Maybe I should purchase one … just in case.


    1. Ray: Normally — to my wife’s eternal dismay — that’s my approach to such problems. However, those big tanks are not cheap. But they are quite simple really. About the only moving part is the measuring gizmo in there. Other than that and the regulator outside, it’s just a big hunk of steel. Lots of life left in it.


        1. Señor Cuevas: I define gauge more narrowly in this case. To me, it’s the little round, well, gauge atop the tank that indicates the propane level. The gizmo is what hangs down inside the tank sending information to the gauge. All depends on how you look at a situation.


  1. I have one of those big tanks also … so far so good. Have thought about getting solar, but it is still very expensive, and I’d never recoup the cost as I would have to switch everything over to electric. New appliances, etc. Guess I could go duo but … just more stuff to go wacko. Gizmos and Wacko go hand in hand.


    1. Peggy: From what my plumber said, the gizmos virtually never go bad, so you’re not likely to have a problem. And my experience with solar has been spotty, leaving me less than optimistic about the technology even though many people swear by it.

      I wouldn’t return to electric stoves for all the tea in China. I like gas.


  2. Those meters are not usually that accurate so we can usually tell when the big tank is running out of gas. One large tank usually lasts us about 7 or 8 months. Unless it’s really cold. The gas guys are usually pretty good to show up the same day and suck 1000s of pesos out of your wallet.


    1. Tancho: The gauge serves more to show when to stop filling than when it’s almost empty. They should not be overfilled, of course.

      And yes, the guys show up promptly, and the reason for that is they earn commissions on sales.


  3. Peggy, I think that you are confusing solar electric with solar water heating. You are correct that solar electric is very expensive and would take years to pay off, if ever. However, Felipe has a solar water heater. They’re much more affordable and can pay off much sooner if you have to pay a lot for propane (gas). I think Felipe should paint his tank above the collector, black. It would improve the efficiency of the unit. Many folks here in southern Arizona just put a black-painted hot-water tank salvaged from the inner core of an old gas or electric water heater, inside an insulated box with a glass cover on it. It works fine for most of the year, but needs to be drained over freezing nights. Here, piped natural gas is cheap, so the savings aren’t much. But if you have an electric water heater or use propane, the savings can be substantial. Besides, you might want to show your neighbors that you’re a “survivalist.”


  4. Also, Felipe, you might want to cover the exterior pipes with black pipe insulation. If you can’t find them in your neighborhood hardware store (or if you want to “dress up” your roof), just look for much more colorful swimming pool “noodles”, which may be more plentiful. When the temperature drops at night, you can lose a lot of the heat in the water tank and piping. However, here in some parts of Arizona in the summer, the water taps should be labeled “Hot” and “Hotter.” Same goes for parts of Sonora.


    1. Pablo: After installing those pipes on the roof, I did indeed have black insulation installed around them. Didn’t last long, however. The blazing sun cooked it off in no time. Oh, well.


  5. Yeah, that’s what it does here, too. It does pay, though, to replace the stuff. It really keeps the hot water inside the pipes, instead of radiating the heat into the surrounding air. And it gives the pipes a more sinister “survivalist” look rather than bland white PVC.


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