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Old 10-28-2011, 07:05 PM   #1
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Unhappy propane leak, need advice

My family and I have been on the road fulltime for 8 months. We have an '85 Toyota Motorhome, 20 ft long. We've never had problems with the propane til we just bought a new tank. Now every time we turn on the furnace, stove, or water heater, it slowly starts to smell like propane. My husband tightened the fittings and that made the smell take longer to appear, but it still does. Obviously this is a huge problem since this is our one and only home and we have 2 small children.

I noticed just now when we tried the water heater, and it started after a while to smell like it was leaking, I went outside to shut off the propane and there was ice crystal formation all over the valve/fitting where the pipe joins to the tank, and some on the first bit of the pipe as well. I know that can happen normally (it's like 50 degrees and rainy here) but wanted to include it anyway.

Oh and other info, we hadn't used the propane for about a month before we bought this new tank. Again not sure if that matters.

I am wondering:

1) where is the leak most likely located?
2) should we just buy a new propane tank?
3) where could we go to get someone to look at our propane line or tank and
4) how much does something like that cost?

Thank you SO MUCH in advance for your help.


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Old 10-28-2011, 07:39 PM   #2
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Why did you replace the tank?

Did you also replace the pressure regulator?

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Old 10-29-2011, 03:45 AM   #3
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Hello Liberty and . We are glad to have you join us here and we look forward to reading of your adventures and experiences. I am sure you will enjoy the website and forums. Good luck, stay safe and keep us posted.
Please do not turn on the LP gas tank and any appliances until you get the problem repaired. If the right fuel mixture were to form it could burn down the RV in a few minutes. Your most likely point of leak (if you did not have one before tank was replaced) is going to be the POL fitting connection at the tank. This is a left handed thread and so the opposite of most fastener threads. Soapy water can locate a leaking fitting with the gas line pressurized (be sure all appliances are turned off) just spray or drip it on and look for bubbles. If you are unable to correct the problem I would recommend a qualified RV technician or LP gas service company to find and repair the problem immediately.
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Old 10-29-2011, 07:45 AM   #4
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Sorry to hear about your problem. A propane leak can be very dangerous. The gas can accumulate in pockets within the coach and around the tank itself and there are many possible ignition points other than the appliances themselves. You mentioned that the tank had been replaced but not the reason. Was the tank itself leaking? Generally there is a high pressure hose that leads to a steel pipe under the coach and then is routed to the appliances using the gas. I realize that with the temps being in the 50’s and you being a full timer with children the thought of having to shut off the propane is the last thing you want to consider but I think it is the only option. You will have to get the tank, hoses and other connections looked at by a qualified RV tech or an LP service company. You may be able to find a mobile technician.

I would be very suspicious of ANY new connections made to the tank

Good luck and be very careful
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Old 10-29-2011, 08:11 AM   #5
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A good propane dealer would/should be able to do a leak test for you and at least find/identify it so you'll have a clear idea of how ro proceed if nothing else. Shouldn't be very expensive to have this done at all, but you could call around. Many will/should have an electronic sniffer that'll make short work of this.
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Old 10-29-2011, 08:35 AM   #6
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I have had a regulator fail and leak propane. Also if you use a home made "external tank" adapter on a motor home (not needed on a trailer with removable tanks) Some of them scare me big time.

First advice: TURN OFF THE GAS at the tank, Leaks are nothing to mess with (See FIRE thread)

Bubble Solution, Or dishwashing soap, spread it on all fittings. and anywhere you can see where it might be possible for a leak.. On the regulator SNIFF, epcially the screened vent hole (if you can find it) use a piece of paper to check for air current.

One possiblity

Propane is odorless.. So they add an odorant to the mix so you can smell it.

Normally this additive is burned in the flame and becomes odorless.

Sometimes .. however.. It builds up in your tank or they get a little .. Generous,, with it at the refinery and then it's not destroyed by the fire.. or if the burner needs adjustment it might burn too cool but I don't think so on that one.
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Old 10-29-2011, 03:48 PM   #7
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I highly suspect that the leak is located where you found the ice/frost as it happens from cooling that is created with the sudden expansion of the propane gas. As others have said, you need to get that fixed ASAP.

In addition, do you not have a working propane detector inside of your RV? If not you most definitely should. If you have one you can easily test it to see if it works properly by getting a butane cigarette lighter and using it to blow butane into the opening of your propane detector by holding the valve of it open with the flame unlighted. If you do that, a working propane detector will alarm in 10 to 20 seconds. What they detect is hydrocarbons and not actually propane so any similar gas will cause it to alarm.
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:16 AM   #8
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Just thought of something. How full is your LP tank? If you're running on fumes getting ready to run out - you may not have a leak/problem. I've noticed that propane odor frequently as the tank was running dry.
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Old 10-30-2011, 08:27 AM   #9
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Is this a bottle? some mini motorhomes used bottles. I would start with a bubble solution and check all connections.

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leak, propane

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