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Old 04-21-2017, 01:58 AM   #1
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Propane Leak

I went out to the trailer this evening to finish loading it for the weekend. I opened the door and it smelt like propane. I left the door open and turned on the exhaust fans to ventilate the space. At the same time I checked all the valves on the stove to make sure they were off. I then closed everything up and left it for an hour to see if the smell returned. It did.

I checked all the fittings and connections on the stove and furnace to make sure they were tight. I also did a visual inspection of the piping to look for rub spots or cracks but didn't find anything. I ventilated, closed it up and came back another hour later only to smell the gas again. I shut off the tanks and left it for the night.

When we returned from vacation last weekend everything seemed fine. The only difference this week was that we left the fridge on propane for three nights because we knew we were heading out again tomorrow. The fridge is now on 120V. I would be surprised if the fridge was the culprit because the connections are outdoor.

It sounds like I am going to have to haul it in to the local service centre and have a propane system test done. Unfortunately they are booking service appointments 3 weeks out right now. Anyone have any interim suggestions that I could try that might still allow us to go away this weekend?


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Old 04-21-2017, 05:37 AM   #2
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Surprised the propane detector didn't go off, guess they only work when they shouldn't.

If you have time, leave the bottles on and turn off the fridge to see if the smell clears. Probably safer to leave it off altogether though.

If it's just for the weekend, you can use a cooler, just like the old days.

You could go somewhere with power.
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Old 04-21-2017, 05:41 AM   #3
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I went out to the trailer this evening to finish loading it for the weekend. I opened the door and it smelt like propane. I left the door open and turned on the exhaust fans to ventilate the space. At the same time I checked all the valves on the stove to make sure they were off. I then closed everything up and left it for an hour to see if the smell returned. It did.

I checked all the fittings and connections on the stove and furnace to make sure they were tight. I also did a visual inspection of the piping to look for rub spots or cracks but didn't find anything. I ventilated, closed it up and came back another hour later only to smell the gas again. I shut off the tanks and left it for the night.

When we returned from vacation last weekend everything seemed fine. The only difference this week was that we left the fridge on propane for three nights because we knew we were heading out again tomorrow. The fridge is now on 120V. I would be surprised if the fridge was the culprit because the connections are outdoor.

It sounds like I am going to have to haul it in to the local service centre and have a propane system test done. Unfortunately they are booking service appointments 3 weeks out right now. Anyone have any interim suggestions that I could try that might still allow us to go away this weekend?


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You said you checked all the fittings to make sure they were tight. Did you check them with a wrench or with a soapy solution? If you didn't use a solution that would show bubbling, I would test again. I would also check the refrigerator connections even though they are "outside."
Did the propane alarm go off? Are you absolutely sure it is propane? After airing it out and shutting off the tanks, then waiting an hour, was there no smell present?
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Old 04-21-2017, 06:56 AM   #4
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Is the propane bottle nearly empty? It is common for the odor to be stronger at the end of the tank even if there is no problem with the system. Something to do with the odor chemical added to the gas. Just a thought.
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Old 04-21-2017, 07:54 AM   #5
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Is the propane bottle nearly empty? It is common for the odor to be stronger at the end of the tank even if there is no problem with the system. Something to do with the odor chemical added to the gas. Just a thought.


Yes, the bottle was nearly empty. Interesting thought!


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Old 04-21-2017, 08:01 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by C&G in FL View Post
You said you checked all the fittings to make sure they were tight. Did you check them with a wrench or with a soapy solution? If you didn't use a solution that would show bubbling, I would test again. I would also check the refrigerator connections even though they are "outside."

Did the propane alarm go off? Are you absolutely sure it is propane? After airing it out and shutting off the tanks, then waiting an hour, was there no smell present?

I am pretty confident that it is propane because it smelled the same if I just opened a burner briefly. After airing it out the smell was gone so it wasn't sewer gas.

I checked with a wrench not soapy solution so I will try that. Thanks!


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Old 04-21-2017, 08:04 AM   #7
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Surprised the propane detector didn't go off, guess they only work when they shouldn't.

If you have time, leave the bottles on and turn off the fridge to see if the smell clears. Probably safer to leave it off altogether though.

If it's just for the weekend, you can use a cooler, just like the old days.

You could go somewhere with power.

The trailer is nearly ten years old so I think the propane detector should be replaced. I was surprised it didn't go off as well.

There are very few campgrounds with power open right now where we are headed. I have one in mind I just hope they still have space!


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Old 04-21-2017, 08:07 AM   #8
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Our stock Atwood DV20 cooktop had a propane odor. When I took the cover off it seemed to be coming from the integral regulator that looked to have a small vent. We replaced the whole thing with the Dickinson marine cooktop shortly after and this has no regulator and no smell. I'm not certain it was actually the regulator venting but it was definitely coming from that area. It is worth a sniff.

It was outside but we also found leaks were the pigtails attach to the regulator.

This stuff works great:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/8-oz-All-...2092/100151681
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Old 04-21-2017, 08:16 AM   #9
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It might also be "informative" if you turn on the propane and close yourself inside the trailer. Then you can alternate sniffing near the stove, the furnace, and the refrigerator. That may help you isolate the source if you fail to locate it with a soapy solution.

Edit: And yes, propane alarms should be replaced every 5 years.
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Old 04-21-2017, 08:35 AM   #10
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Thanks for posting about this issue. We can all learn something.
I hope you get it resolved. Please keep us posted.
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Old 04-21-2017, 08:46 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by C&G in FL View Post
It might also be "informative" if you turn on the propane and close yourself inside the trailer. Then you can alternate sniffing near the stove, the furnace, and the refrigerator. That may help you isolate the source if you fail to locate it with a soapy solution.
Uuhhmm, not so sure it's a good idea to close yourself inside a camper with a suspected propane leak. Hope your watch band doesn't accidentally spark against a metal hinge. Oh my.... At least make sure your medical insurance is paid up and a friend is standing a block away with 911 on speed dial! I knew a guy who crawled around on the floor of his truck-bed camper looking for a suspected propane leak, and the next thing he knew the roof of his camper was blown off, and he was lying on the floor with singed hair and a ringing in his ears - lucky to be alive. Be careful out there....
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Old 04-21-2017, 08:58 AM   #12
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Might be more helpful to invest in a low cost battery operated propane sniffer. Readily available at RV stores. I carry one for just such trouble shooting. More sensitive than a nose.
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:20 AM   #13
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Our stock Atwood DV20 cooktop had a propane odor. When I took the cover off it seemed to be coming from the integral regulator that looked to have a small vent. We replaced the whole thing with the Dickinson marine cooktop shortly after and this has no regulator and no smell.
When I searched the forum for threads on propane leaks last night I discovered all the Dickinson marine cooktop conversions... off down another rabbit hole... those look nice!

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I'll pick up some of that along with some pipe thread tape on my way home from work.
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:22 AM   #14
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Edit: And yes, propane alarms should be replaced every 5 years.
Thanks, I'll put one on order!
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:26 AM   #15
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Uuhhmm, not so sure it's a good idea to close yourself inside a camper with a suspected propane leak.
I did something similar... I did the sniff test but left the door open. I couldn't detect anything near the stove or furnace. I even removed the top from the stove and checked around all three control valves and burners.

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I knew a guy who crawled around on the floor of his truck-bed camper looking for a suspected propane leak, and the next thing he knew the roof of his camper was blown off, and he was lying on the floor with singed hair and a ringing in his ears - lucky to be alive. Be careful out there....
Ouch, glad he was alright. Thanks for the caution!
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:34 AM   #16
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Might be more helpful to invest in a low cost battery operated propane sniffer. Readily available at RV stores. I carry one for just such trouble shooting. More sensitive than a nose.
Great suggestion!

I found a General Tools PNG-1 detector:
Reviews seem to indicate these would be a one time use device.
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Old 04-21-2017, 09:54 AM   #17
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Great suggestion!

I found a General Tools PNG-1 detector:
Reviews seem to indicate these would be a one time use device.
A buddy picked one of those up, and found it very inconsistent, sometimes not even detecting a purposeful leak, so he returned it. He did not want to spend a lot, but he was one of those totally worried about the danger of a leak (as was his wife), and after a lot of searching decided on this one.

https://www.amazon.ca/Extech-EZ40-Ez...struments+EZ40

I have always just put a bit of soap in water and apply with a spritzer or a small brush.
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Old 04-21-2017, 10:03 AM   #18
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When I searched the forum for threads on propane leaks last night I discovered all the Dickinson marine cooktop conversions... off down another rabbit hole... those look nice!



I'll pick up some of that along with some pipe thread tape on my way home from work.
Just be aware that Teflon tape / pipe dope should not be used with propane flare fittings.
You can also disconnect the propane from your trailer and pressurize the system with compressed air . You can then check for leaks with a soap solution . Using compressed air is much safer than checking for leaks with propane.
Gas piping and plumbing ( water , sewer ) in structures are tested by applying air to the system . They pump the system up to a set value with air , close the system off with a valve and see if the system loses pressure over a 24 hour period using a pressure guage.
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Old 04-21-2017, 10:07 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rubicon327 View Post
Our stock Atwood DV20 cooktop had a propane odor. When I took the cover off it seemed to be coming from the integral regulator that looked to have a small vent. We replaced the whole thing with the Dickinson marine cooktop shortly after and this has no regulator and no smell. I'm not certain it was actually the regulator venting but it was definitely coming from that area. It is worth a sniff.

It was outside but we also found leaks were the pigtails attach to the regulator.

This stuff works great:
8 oz. All-Purpose Leak Detector-302092 - The Home Depot
Had some issue with pigtails from day one . One side was always leaking ,then one tank said it was empty , went to get it filled and it was full . When we got home last summer from long trip , replaced regulator and both pigtails . So far no more gas smells . Pat
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Old 04-21-2017, 10:21 AM   #20
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Just be aware that Teflon tape / pipe dope should not be used with propane flare fittings.
Good to know. I will do some more research before I actually disconnect or reconnect anything. Thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
You can also disconnect the propane from your trailer and pressurize the system with compressed air . You can then check for leaks with a soap solution . Using compressed air is much safer than checking for leaks with propane.
Gas piping and plumbing ( water , sewer ) in structures are tested by applying air to the system . They pump the system up to a set value with air , close the system off with a valve and see if the system loses pressure over a 24 hour period using a pressure guage.
Do you know what pressure the piping, valves, etc in the low pressure side of the propane system should be tested at? I have a compressor that I could use for an air test but don't want to over pressurize the system.
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