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Old 01-30-2015, 04:47 PM   #1
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Propane leak??

In the past 10 days I have learned a great deal about my new little TT, thanks mostly to you all.
I have been successful in siliconing the windows, getting the hot water heater to work, purchasing and hooking up (correctly) two batteries, found the fuse box and replaced fuses which resulted in a working water pump And I am almost road ready! Just need to treat the roof, that happens before the game on Sunday!
Bigger issue has come to my attention and that is the smell of propane in the trailer when I open up the tanks. :face palm:
Yes, I know exposure can kill you, and I know that it is flammable. I realize this is very serious.
I have priced out propane leak detector alarm things that wire into your rig. $100 a pop. I thought I could use a carbon monoxide alarm thing but online "experts" differ in opinion whether or not they detect propane gas. Can anyone give me some direction on how to 1) locate the leak 2) Most cost effectively arm my trailer with some sort of alarm or testing device?

Thank you VERY MUCH in advance.

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Old 01-30-2015, 05:09 PM   #2
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Propane is heavier than air, so you really need a propane detector mounted close to the floor.
Don't go cheap on this, your life is at stake here.
As far the propane smell you are experiencing, you don't say whether it's a gradual whiff of propane or if you smell it immediately.
I bought an inexpensive (~$40) handheld gas leak detector to track down a leak.
It turned out to be from the regulator in the stovetop; the gasket had dried out and it was weeping propane. It would take a while to smell it in the closed up motorhome. I replaced the regulator and problem was solved.
If your TT is old or has been sitting a while, I would check the stove pressure regulator.

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Old 01-30-2015, 05:15 PM   #3
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You can buy a propane detector at any home improvement store much cheaper . They work off of 110 or batteries your choice where as the factory trailer version is wired into 12 volt making them more costly !
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Old 01-30-2015, 05:20 PM   #4
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Do you have a gas stove? Does it have a pilot light that needs to be lit?
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Old 01-30-2015, 05:23 PM   #5
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CarteBlanche, use your nose first of all to locate the source of the leak. It's gotta smell pretty bad to be flammable.

Is the pilot light in your stove turned on but not lit?

Once to find the right area you can use an indicating fluid to localize the leak. Soapy water is one way to get the job done, your grand kid's bubble blowing fluid another.
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Old 01-30-2015, 08:10 PM   #6
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About 3 decades in the fire service, and I'd say don't trust your nose to find a leak, unless your nose is on your ankle. In a closed space with little to no air movement, the heavier than air aspect of LPG causes it to pool in low spots.

We lost a five bay VFD fire house to a propane leak. Whole place filled with gas until it got to the pilot light on a water heater mounted above the meeting room. Fortunately, this happened at 2AM...KABLOOEY!

But then, I'm paranoid. Only significant burns I got during my career was during a training (ie, controlled scenario) exercise!

Be careful out there...make sure the space is well ventilated before searching for a source.
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:17 AM   #7
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thank you...

Thank you for replies. To answer the questions, I have a propane stove and that is generally where I smell the propane. I have a heightened sense of smell, no one else smells it. I have sprayed all fittings in TT with soapy water, didn't reveal a leak.
It is a 1980 trailer and the advice about the regulator may be the answer I'm looking for. It seems strongest in the stove itself.

My plan, based on all advice here, is to buy the leak finder off Amazon, install a battery operated alarm (unless I get objections from you guys) and keep propane off until I get the alarm installed (near the floor) and hunt down the leak.
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Old 01-31-2015, 09:25 AM   #8
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With the regulator being 30+ years old you may just choose to replace it. Cheap peace of mind even if you have a leak elsewhere. Same may be said for any other gas regulating equipment you may have.
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Old 01-31-2015, 10:16 AM   #9
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Just before Christmas I headed out to camp. I went one day early to setup before the peeps came. After getting the outside setup, slides out etc, I started to load the cooled off fridge. (normally we do this at home but I was in a hurry so I just threw stuff in a cooler). It was in the 30's so I had the furnace running. After 10 min or so I was sipping on a cold beverage and I smelled something like faint natural gas.

Obviously there was no natural gas around so I thought perhaps something wasn't correct with the furnace. Not convinced I had a problem yet, I made a mental note that if I started to get sleepy in the next 5 min there was a carbon monoxide problem. Less than a minute later an alarm went off. I immediately shut the furnace off, opened doors and windows.

When I knelt down to look at the alarm to see which one it was (CO or propane) IT WAS the PROPANE ALARM. OK, so I looked around real quick and noticed I had accidently opened the stove burner knob when loading the fridge. Propane had been running full on for about 10 min. I shut the knob off and got out of the camper and let it air out.

Considering the height of the furnace off the floor, it wouldn't have been long before I was toast.

Moral of the story-
1)make sure all your detectors are operating (propane, smoke, carbon monoxide), if it wasn't for the propane detector six weeks ago I would not be sitting here writing this.

2)if you smell something unusual don't ignore it. In this case, the smell of the propane was diluted by the flowing air from the furnace and it never occurred to me it was propane. We have had this trailer for 5 yrs, camp in all 4 seasons frequently. I noticed something odd, but ignored it. Big mistake.
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Old 01-31-2015, 01:44 PM   #10
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I bought an inexpensive (~$40) handheld gas leak detector to track down a leak.

Thanks for the tip on the tool.
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Old 01-31-2015, 01:55 PM   #11
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If you suspect a propane leak, your first step is to turn off all sources of ignition. There is a propane leak timed pressure test you can run to confirm the leak, but I will let you research that. You will also need a manometer for that test and to pressure test your system. The electronic and bubble tests will help you find the leak and then you need to re pressure test. You probably should use a mechanic if you haven't studied the foundational knowledge as to propane and safety.

If you bought a used TT, then you should used the funds you budgeted for repairs and maintenance to get the TT ready for the road to identify and solve the problem. There could be multiple leaks.

As stated the propane detector should be mounted near the floor as propane is 1.5 heavier than air and pools at the lowest level. The electronic leak finders are very good devices.

Actually, what you smell is not the propane as propane is odorless. What you are smelling is the ethyl mercaptan that is added to help you become aware of the problem. It has a strong, unpleasant smell like rotten eggs, a skunk’s spray, or a dead animal.

If you are in NorCal, send me a pm and I can help you test your system.
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Old 01-31-2015, 06:32 PM   #12
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Wow, scary stuff, Brian! Glad all turned out well!!

Today I went to home depot and purchased the Kidde CO and Explosive Gas Alarm for about $60. To make sure it worked, I opened the propane tanks, turned on the stove, held the alarm up to it. After the expected delay, the alarm went off as hoped. Ok, great, I thought. It works. So I left the propane tanks open, turned off stove, (no pilot lights are ignited), and I put the alarm on the floor near the stove (which is wear the scent is the strongest), and I left.
An hour later I came back, the smell of propane was very strong, yet the alarm didn't sound at all. NOOOOOOOO!!!!!
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Old 01-31-2015, 06:57 PM   #13
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[QUOTE=CarteBlanche;2406026]..................So I left the propane tanks open, turned off stove, (no pilot lights are ignited), and I put the alarm on the floor near the stove (which is wear the scent is the strongest), and I left.

If your stove has pilot lights and they are not ignited:

Have you shut the propane supply to the pilot lights off? If propane tanks are on and standing pilots (if equipped) are not lit then the propane is still flowing to the pilot burner(s). To shut off pilot fuel there is a screw in the pilot propane line that must be closed.
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Old 01-31-2015, 08:39 PM   #14
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So more than just the stovetop and oven knobs need to be turned to off? What, what, what the??

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leak, propane

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