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Old 03-21-2016, 06:41 PM   #1
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Empty the propane tank?

I have a 1986 class A rv with onboard propane tank. I would like to empty the propane, fill it with air, and remove the tank. It has had a faint smell of propane since august. The gas meter still reads full 6 months later. I called all the rv service places and dealers in nearby areas as well as Ferrell gas and other propane places, no one will touch this thing. Does anyone know how I can do this myself safely or where else I can call to have it done? I tried twisting the main valve knob open but no sound or smell was there. Does that mean it's empty and I'm smelling residual? Or is there something else I must do to purge out remaining gas? I'd like to finally use this camper but don't want to blow up. Thanks

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1986 Allegro 7.4 Chevy 26ft Land Cruiser Fixer Upper
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Old 03-21-2016, 06:56 PM   #2
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Propane tanks can have a smell even when empty. The shut off valve on the tank is a needle style valve, if tightened too hard it scores the seat and they will no longer shut the flow off completely.
Have you opened the overflow valve (to the left of the fill valve) and see if you get any gas out?

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Old 03-21-2016, 07:01 PM   #3
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See if your stove will lit. Fire up the WH. Tap on the tank with a screwdriver handle. Does it ring or go thud?
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Old 03-21-2016, 07:08 PM   #4
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Try turning the vent valve which is to the left of the fill fitting to check for pressure. If you still have pressure not sure how to dump it in such a way that doesn't make you nervous. Burning with the coach appliances could take a month if the tank is full. Bleeding to the air might be your only choice.

You might not like my idea but maybe someone has something better. As long as the shut off valve is holding pressure disconnect the regulator and remove the tank. Wait for a windy day and find someplace away from anything, like an open field, and crack the vent valve. Propane needs to both mix with oxygen AND be a high enough percentage AND have a heat source before it will ignite. Wind will disperse the gas enough to keep the concentration below that required for ignition and being in an open field is away from possible heat sources.
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Old 03-22-2016, 06:38 AM   #5
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Okay great, thank you very much you guys. so if I open the vent valve (same as overfill valve?) and no pressure, smell, or sound comes out of it then is that indication that the tank is empty?

Also, the knob that says "vapor", when I turn that knob open, should gas come out?

I'll try your suggestions this afternoon and report back. You guys are life savers
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Old 03-22-2016, 07:00 AM   #6
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The little knob with the red tag is a vent. Open it a bit and let the gas out. Best place is a open field on a windy day. When nothing come out it is empty.

The thing to the left with the red wire is a gauge. See if you can clean the face enough to see the needle.

If the system works, run the heat on high. That will run the gas down in a day or so.
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Old 03-22-2016, 07:20 AM   #7
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I'd be getting some soap bubbles on it while it's still got something in it. Though you're smelling propane in the area of the tank, it pretty unlikely it's the tank itself that's leaking in my experience. If the tank is involved at all, it's nearly always leaking at one of the fittings that are screwed into it. You may be facing a repair that's much less difficult than you think! Pulling the tank is rarely required.

The regulator, whatever that thing is next to it, and the rusty pipe fittings all look suspect to me. To help isolate the source of the leak, maybe you could turn the main valve off, let it sit for a day or so, then see if it passes the smell test?

Another thought. That main valve doesn't always seal real well around the valve stem when partially open. It's designed to seal fully open, or fully closed. Some soap suds dripped on that might tell you for sure.

Last, I'd track down a cap for that filler in your travels. Running it down the road without it is a bad plan.
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Old 03-22-2016, 10:04 AM   #8
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FYI an empty propane tank can smell for years even after it's been emptied and open to the atmosphere. They put a chemical in the tanks called ethyl of mercaptain so you can detect leaks with your sniffer - propane itself has no odor... and the stuff never seems to go away...

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Old 03-25-2016, 07:16 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the advice you guys, I opened the vent valve and no gas comes out. I'm assuming it must be empty. The electric meter inside the camper reads full so I guess the meter is broken. A new problem has arisen. I'll post it in a new post, thanks again everyone. IRV2 for the win!
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Old 03-29-2016, 04:55 AM   #10
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Buy a new gauge for about $75 dollars. Here is the installation link.


Agree with most members your leak is somewhere else. Not the tank. Your system probably has auto shut down anyway. On my 25 year old rig, the pilot on the stove went out. The system alarm came on and shut off the propane tank.

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