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Old 05-25-2017, 04:45 PM   #1
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Help - propane alarm keeps beeping

We just bought the Escape 5.0 this December in Texas and brought it home to Ohio (where it experienced its first winter weather). In April, after plugging in the camper, the propane regulator (alarm) starting beeping loudly.

We took it to a dealer to de- winterize it and check for leaks. No leaks. Regulator started beeping after we brought it home and plugged it back in. Escape recommended replacing the regulator. Bought an $80 new one and replaced the old one.

It was about this time my husband found a scented jar candle (with a lid) in the cupboard above the regulator. He removed it, and decided that had been the culprit all along. HOWEVER - after having the camper plugged in for a couple of weeks, the new regulator has started going off (beeping to beat the band)!!!
My husband has now disconnected the wires to shut it off...

HELP!!!
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Old 05-25-2017, 05:19 PM   #2
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What did the light and sound display show for the cause?
Larry
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Old 05-25-2017, 05:47 PM   #3
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What did the light and sound display show for the cause?
Larry
?

I think the OP is talking about the propane alarm. It beeps when it senses propane and a light flashes. At least mine does. It doesn't display a cause.
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Old 05-25-2017, 06:09 PM   #4
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The manual says to make sure you vacuum the unit, mine hasn't gone off since I started doing this.

I also put in spade lugs so I can disconnect it when I want.
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Old 05-25-2017, 09:06 PM   #5
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Definitely make sure the unit is clean as Bob suggested. Lots of things can set off the propane alarm besides actual propane leaks. Make sure your battery box is closed tight and the vent is working, for example. By the way the propane alarm doesn't "regulate" propane in any way. It's just a gas detector.

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Old 05-26-2017, 07:17 AM   #6
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Thanks, we will have to check the battery box tightness, as this is a brand NEW regulator and should not need cleaned yet.
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Old 05-26-2017, 07:18 AM   #7
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That sounds like a good idea, however what is a spade lug?
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Old 05-26-2017, 08:32 AM   #8
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Thanks, we will have to check the battery box tightness, as this is a brand NEW regulator and should not need cleaned yet.
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That sounds like a good idea, however what is a spade lug?
What you are referring to as a regulator is NOT a regulator. The regulator is in the compartment with the propane tanks and it does not beep. What you are dealing with is the PROPANE DETECTOR, and it is powered by a 12 volt DC source, either the battery or the converter. It will sound when it senses/detects propane AS WELL AS other airborne substances. And new or not, it could have gotten dusty at the manufacturing plant. I believe the recommendation is every two weeks. However, I am 99% certain your problem is being caused by minute amounts of hydrogen off-gassing as the battery/batteries charge.

A spade lug is a crimp on connector that is put on the positive and negative wires to make disconnecting the alarm easier when it needs to be replaced. You would be better off to put a small toggle switch on the positive wire in protected but easily accessible location so you can quickly silence a false alarm.
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Old 05-26-2017, 09:27 AM   #9
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What you are referring to as a regulator is NOT a regulator. The regulator is in the compartment with the propane tanks and it does not beep. What you are dealing with is the PROPANE DETECTOR, and it is powered by a 12 volt DC source, either the battery or the converter. It will sound when it senses/detects propane AS WELL AS other airborne substances.
Yeah well, I tried clarifying that earlier Carl...

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However, I am 99% certain your problem is being caused by minute amounts of hydrogen off-gassing as the battery/batteries charge.
Yeah, tried that clarification too...


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Old 05-26-2017, 12:53 PM   #10
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False alarm?

So how exactly do folks determine a "false alarm"? I'd like to suggest that such a thing is rare. The equipment that is alarming is very likely sensing some kind of combustible gas. The hydrogen from a charging battery is a good possibility. I am suspicious of the gas cooktop or oven if there is one. Even though someone checked for gas leaks, I would question how thorough they were. I suggest you find someone with a portable combustible gas detector and tell them about your problem. The local gas utility has lots of them. Many fire companies have them. My neighbor is a gas field welder. He carries one and wears one. But first, hook a shopvac to the battery box vent and see if the alarm shuts off.
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Old 05-26-2017, 02:07 PM   #11
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Help - propane regulator keeps beeping

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Originally Posted by Starbrightsteve View Post
So how exactly do folks determine a "false alarm"? I'd like to suggest that such a thing is rare. The equipment that is alarming is very likely sensing some kind of combustible gas. The hydrogen from a charging battery is a good possibility. I am suspicious of the gas cooktop or oven if there is one. Even though someone checked for gas leaks, I would question how thorough they were. I suggest you find someone with a portable combustible gas detector and tell them about your problem. The local gas utility has lots of them. Many fire companies have them. My neighbor is a gas field welder. He carries one and wears one. But first, hook a shopvac to the battery box vent and see if the alarm shuts off.

Steve,

I agree that it's essential to determine if it's really a false alarm. The steps you outlined should do that.

I would think that a leak in the propane system would recur regularly, not just once in a great while. I guess it could be something that only leaks under certain driving conditions, but how would you find that?

The hydrogen leak could easily be intermittent, depending on how much the battery is being used and charged. Plus the direction of the wind could either evacuate the hydrogen or "back it up" into the trailer.

Rich
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Old 05-26-2017, 03:08 PM   #12
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Steve,

I agree that it's essential to determine if it's really a false alarm. The steps you outlined should do that.

I would think that a leak in the propane system would recur regularly, not just once in a great while. I guess it could be something that only leaks under certain driving conditions, but how would you find that?

The hydrogen leak could easily be intermittent, depending on how much the battery is being used and charged. Plus the direction of the wind could either evacuate the hydrogen or "back it up" into the trailer.

Rich
It becomes apparent that it is a false alarm when it goes off in the middle of the night so you shut off the propane tank valves and burn of all the gas in the line by lighting the stove. And then the alarm goes off the next two nights in a row. So you really tighten down on the wing nuts holding the top of the battery box in place, and you purchase a block of conduit sealant at Lowe's and seal the entire perimeter of the battery box's lid, and the propane alarm doesn't go off anymore. It doesn't help that the propane alarm is installed less than three feet from the battery box. Furthermore, hydrogen is lighter than air so it rises toward the lid, but the vent tube for the battery box is attached near the bottom of the box. IMO, no need to vacuum the box, especially if it does contain (explosive) hydrogen. It could potentially result in an undesirable situation. At this point, it would seem somewhat obvious that there is no propane leak. Yup, you haven't lived until you have been rattled out of bed at 2 or 3 am by a shrieking propane alarm 3 nights in a row! Oh, did I mention that the manufacturer confirmed hydrogen would cause the alarm to sound?
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Old 05-26-2017, 03:55 PM   #13
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It becomes apparent that it is a false alarm when it goes off in the middle of the night so you shut off the propane tank valves and burn of all the gas in the line by lighting the stove. And then the alarm goes off the next two nights in a row. So you really tighten down on the wing nuts holding the top of the battery box in place, and you purchase a block of conduit sealant at Lowe's and seal the entire perimeter of the battery box's lid, and the propane alarm doesn't go off anymore. It doesn't help that the propane alarm is installed less than three feet from the battery box. Furthermore, hydrogen is lighter than air so it rises toward the lid, but the vent tube for the battery box is attached near the bottom of the box. IMO, no need to vacuum the box, especially if it does contain (explosive) hydrogen. It could potentially result in an undesirable situation. At this point, it would seem somewhat obvious that there is no propane leak. Yup, you haven't lived until you have been rattled out of bed at 2 or 3 am by a shrieking propane alarm 3 nights in a row! Oh, did I mention that the manufacturer confirmed hydrogen would cause the alarm to sound?
When I worked at the oil refinery , my area was the hydrogen unit.
It was considered the most dangerous area in the refinery .
The NEC code requirements for hydrogen are far higher than for gasoline or other petroleum distillates.
I would not try and vacuum hydrogen because
as C&G stated you might be unpleasantly surprised.
A vacuum can create static electricity and the standard household vacuum hose is plastic where the vacuum hoses we used had a copper braid so the hose was grounded and did not build up static electricity .
One problem is that the hydrogen molecules are so small that they are almost impossible to contain.
We used junction boxes with screw covers and machined faces and still hydrogen leaked past the seals.
I would try and find a better way to seal the battery area off from the trailer and a better means of ventillating the battery area.
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Old 05-26-2017, 06:04 PM   #14
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My husband has now disconnected the wires to shut it off...
And there is still a problem? ? ? ?
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Old 05-26-2017, 06:15 PM   #15
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When I worked at the oil refinery , my area was the hydrogen unit.
It was considered the most dangerous area in the refinery .
The NEC code requirements for hydrogen are far higher than for gasoline or other petroleum distillates.
I would not try and vacuum hydrogen because
as C&G stated you might be unpleasantly surprised.
A vacuum can create static electricity and the standard household vacuum hose is plastic where the vacuum hoses we used had a copper braid so the hose was grounded and did not build up static electricity .
One problem is that the hydrogen molecules are so small that they are almost impossible to contain.
We used junction boxes with screw covers and machined faces and still hydrogen leaked past the seals.
I would try and find a better way to seal the battery area off from the trailer and a better means of ventillating the battery area.
That's true about Hydrogen. Very hard to keep it from leaking. The key is better venting. I've always thought a small inline exhaust fan on the battery box vent would be a good idea - something that draws very little power and runs at low speed.

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Old 05-26-2017, 07:26 PM   #16
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Switching to AGM batteries may well be the long term fix. Unfortunately it means tossing out $300 worth of nearly new lead acid batteries to buy $500 worth of new AGM's.
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Old 05-26-2017, 10:41 PM   #17
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Switching to AGM batteries may well be the long term fix. Unfortunately it means tossing out $300 worth of nearly new lead acid batteries to buy $500 worth of new AGM's.
Been there, done that, wearing the T-shirt now, but items more like $600 rather than $500.
And no false alarms since biting that bullet.
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Old 05-26-2017, 11:51 PM   #18
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Been there, done that, wearing the T-shirt now, but items more like $600 rather than $500.
And no false alarms since biting that bullet.
Probably be worth the peace of mind to know the batteries aren't leaking inside the trailer. If it were me, I'd swap out for the AGM's.
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Old 05-27-2017, 07:50 AM   #19
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No alarm now, but no detector to protect us either!
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Old 05-27-2017, 07:59 AM   #20
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Detector, not regulator

Very helpful discussion, thanks so very much for the great advice.

I have learned that it is the detector that has the alarm, and since a dealer checked for propane leaks, it is probably the batteries stored nearby that are leaking.

The alarm is loud enough to wake the dead, and the thought of it going off while camping, or worse in the middle of the night, is one of the reasons my husband and I are asking for help. We were not going anywhere in this camper until we figure this out. We can hear it going off (camper is parked in our driveway) from inside our house!!!

We know nothing about these different types of batteries, but something tells me we are going to eventually have find out. For now we are going to follow Carl's advice to seal the batteries as best we can and see if that does the trick.

A toggle switch sounds like a really good idea to install as well...especially for the middle of the night alarm!
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