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Is it normal to smell some propane when you open up the propane door?


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Showing no pressure after a day is normal.

Mix up a soap solution: https://www.hunker.com/13417536/how-to-make-leak-detection-soap and spray it on the cylinder valves where they go in the cylinder, the handle stem where it goes in the valve, the pigtail/hose connectors and hose ends as well as the attachment points of the regulator. Look for bubbles, R&R.

If no leaks then take the propane cylinders in and have them weighed for content. They may be empty.

If the cylinders (tanks) were bought new were they purged?

15 minutes is enough time to detect a leak.

Here's my article on leak testing:

 Checking for propane leaks.

It is easy to test your systems for leaks if you suspect one or smell propane occasionally and want to check your system.

On your regulator, most have a pressure indicator that is green on a tank/cylinder with propane pressure, and turns red when empty. This can be used as an easy way to check for leaks, even small ones, that need attention, according to the good folks at Marshall Gas Controls, the largest RV propane equipment manufacturer at the time in the US.

1. Turn all gas appliances inside the rig off. This especially includes any pilot lights.

2. Open the valve on the cylinder/tank and wait till the regulator indicator shows green.

3. Turn the valve on the cylinder/tank off and wait 15 minutes.

4. If the indicator is still green, you are within limits.

Notes on above:

1. Many think that if 15 min is good, longer is better and that is not true in this case. Propane controls all along the system do have allowable, minute leakage to the outside, which is well below any ignition thresholds or danger. Not enough to smell or to set off alarms. If you leave the system for much longer you may observe the green turning red, and that is normal.

2. This is a screening test only. It should detect even small leaks that need attention. However, if you continually smell propane odorant, and can't find the source, see a service technician immediately."

 

Hope that helps.

 

Edited by RV_
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To add a little to what RV posted, keep in mind that your propane tanks have a regulator pressure relief valve, or reducer that vents to the atmosphere, same as most natural gas meters. Its normal to get just a hint of gas around the regulator when it is enclosed in a compartment. Propane is heavier than air and that is the reason that propane bottle spaces are vented out the bottom. The smell should be quite faint and it should dissipate quickly once you open the access door, but it is normal for there to be just enough to detect it. 

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1 hour ago, Kirk W said:

To add a little to what RV posted, keep in mind that your propane tanks have a regulator pressure relief valve, or reducer that vents to the atmosphere, same as most natural gas meters.......

Last summer, stuck in the Phoenix area when it is over 115, I went out of our park model one afternoon and smell 'gas' (which is actually the odorant added to propane) and was trying to figure out where it was coming from - turns out it was the propane attached to the grill - the heat had gotten so hot that the gas inside had expanded enough to exit through the relief valve.    

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It is not unusual to smell mercaptain odorant that is added to LP products. The human nose is many times more sensitive that the best combustible gas detectors sold to the general public. You can detect "LP" gas odor long before it reaches the LEL = Lower Explosive Limit.

Follow RV's advice and test accordingly.

I will add, when you open an LP valve it should be opened completely to the stop. This picture shows how and why the seals are designed to work: https://www.gasequipment.com/pdfs/P_10_ServiceValvesRepairPoster.pdf

Edited by Ray,IN
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35 minutes ago, Barbaraok said:

- the heat had gotten so hot that the gas inside had expanded enough to exit through the relief valve.    

That reminds me of an incident back in the late 70's or early 80's. That was before the portable bottles had the safety float OPD valve to prevent overfilling. I had stopped for propane while vacationing with our popup trailer and the attendant told me that he was doing me a favor and jamming our bottle so that we would have a little more in it to last longer. (to sell more too?) I was naive at the time so I thanked him, paid the bill and left. That afternoon when we had parked in a national forest campground I kept hearing what sounded like a  phlegmy cough every few minutes. After it happened several times I figured out that it was coming from the front of our RV. Walked over and the propane bottle was in direct sunlight and we were at a high altitude in the WY mountains, so the pop-off was relining pressure every few minutes. The odor of propane was very strong. About all that I could do was to make sure we had no flame anywhere close to the RV. The relief continued for a couple of hours but stopped well before sundown. That was the last time that I ever had a bottle filled that I didn't make darned sure that it was done on a scale in the way that it was supposed to be done. 

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Its been my experience in 50 years of RV ownership, even where you would NOT normally get a whiff of gas (its additive) in certain places, AS THE TANKS GET LOWER THE CONCENTRATION IS GREATER which increases the odor.   Regardless anytime anyplace I smell the gas I INVESTIGATE

 

 John T   

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On 6/16/2021 at 1:31 PM, RV_ said:

Sowing no pressure after a day is normal.

Mix up a soap solution: https://www.hunker.com/13417536/how-to-make-leak-detection-soap and spray it on the cylinder valves where they go in the cylinder, the handle stem where it goes in the valve, the pigtail/hose connectors and hose ends as well as the attachment points of the regulator. Look for bubbles, R&R.

If no leaks then take the propane cylinders in and have them weighed for content. They may be empty.

If the cylinders (tanks) were bought new were they purged?

15 minutes is enough time to detect a leak.

Here's my article on leak testing:

 Checking for propane leaks.

It is easy to test your systems for leaks if you suspect one or smell propane occasionally and want to check your system.

On your regulator, most have a pressure indicator that is green on a tank/cylinder with propane pressure, and turns red when empty. This can be used as an easy way to check for leaks, even small ones, that need attention, according to the good folks at Marshall Gas Controls, the largest RV propane equipment manufacturer at the time in the US.

1. Turn all gas appliances inside the rig off. This especially includes any pilot lights.

2. Open the valve on the cylinder/tank and wait till the regulator indicator shows green.

3. Turn the valve on the cylinder/tank off and wait 15 minutes.

4. If the indicator is still green, you are within limits.

Notes on above:

1. Many think that if 15 min is good, longer is better and that is not true in this case. Propane controls all along the system do have allowable, minute leakage to the outside, which is well below any ignition thresholds or danger. Not enough to smell or to set off alarms. If you leave the system for much longer you may observe the green turning red, and that is normal.

2. This is a screening test only. It should detect even small leaks that need attention. However, if you continually smell propane odorant, and can't find the source, see a service technician immediately."

 

Hope that helps.

 

 

Thanks for all the feedback. I'm wondering if the big plastic connectors to the propane tanks at the valve are leaky?

I will test the 15 minute rule and see.

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13 minutes ago, slackercruster said:

I'm wondering if the big plastic connectors to the propane tanks at the valve are leaky?

As far as I know its the brass (or whatever it is) tank and hose fittings that make the positive seal, the plastic is only the mechanical means/method used to mate the hose and tank together. I guess the hose could have a leak ?? but Im doubting the big threaded plastic 

 

John T  NOT a propane expert this is ONLY a guess NO warranty......... 

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2 hours ago, slackercruster said:

I will test the 15 minute rule and see.

The soapy water test too. 

It's also good to be aware that you may smell a strong odor of propane gas when your tank is nearing empty. This is because the odorant can sometimes settle and collect in the bottom of the tank. When the propane supply runs low, you are left with the concentrated odor.

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Guys here is a great page that tells you all you can know about your propane connectors. The DOT Cylinders are the ones on Travel trailers and Fifth wheel trailers.

The tanks are only on motor-homes (Forklifts too but we are doing RV centric here) and are called ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers)tanks.

Go here and bookmark it. Scroll all the way down first so you see all the images and pics there: https://www.etrailer.com/faq-common-rv-propane-fittings.aspx

Edited by RV_
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