Is Your RV Propane System Safe?
An RV propane leak can happen anywhere throughout the RV propane system. Propane leaks often originate in cracked propane lines or cracked or broken fittings.
Age, use, and general wear and tear all wreak havoc on the RV’s propane system, and RV propane leaks can happen, anytime and anywhere. If you smell rotten eggs around or in your RV, you should definitely know how to detect and identify an RV propane leak.
RV Propane Leak Basics for RVers
Propane is such a familiar part of RV camping that sometimes it’s easy to forget that propane is both a toxin and a fire hazard. Liquid propane releases a toxic gas that is colorless, tasteless, and extremely flammable. If it’s inhaled, propane gas molecules displace oxygen molecules in the lungs and make it difficult or impossible to breathe.
Signs of propane poisoning include convulsions, diarrhea, and may include permanent brain damage or death. Obviously, propane is nothing to fool around with.
How companies make RV propane less hazardous
Propane manufacturers add a substance to propane that gives it the rotten egg smell you probably associate with propane. That way it’s easier to tell if there is an RV propane leak.
Because propane gas is heavier than air, RV manufacturers install a propane detector close to the floor of the RV, to hopefully sound the alarm if there is a propane leak so you can evacuate (and turn the propane valve off).
Ways to tell if your propane system leaks
The RV propane system should be checked for leaks annually. Many RV dealers provide this service and have the tools to give your RV’s propane system a thorough inspection. In between inspections, you’ll still need to monitor your propane system for leaks. Here are 3 ways you can do this:
- Use your nose: If you can smell rotten eggs, there is an RV propane leak somewhere. You can try to locate an area where the rotten egg smell is the strongest, and then paint the lines with a basting brush dipped in soapy water.
- Use a Gassaf propane leak detector: The Gassaf propane leak detector provides another layer of RV propane safety. It not only detects a propane leak, but shuts down the flow of propane if it senses a leak. The Gassaf propane leak detector is also a propane tank gauge, so you can monitor propane levels.
- Use a propane dial manometer: A dial manometer is a tool used to perform a pressure drop test in the RV’s propane system. The monometer measures pressure in the propane system and provides measured data about any possible RV propane leak.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE’s RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.
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- Can Your RV Propane System Explode & Kill You On The Road?
Lynne lives, travels, and works full-time in a Forest-River R-Pod 180 with her 2-pointers, Jolene and Annabelle. Lynne has been an enthusiastic RVer for over 35 years. And then one day in 2019, she began full-time RVing as a lifestyle experiment. She quickly fell in love with the convenience, freedom and minimalist lifestyle offered by full-time RV living. Lynne is a professional writer and has been a professional dog trainer since 1995. You can read about her travel adventures on her R-Pod Adventure blog, R-podyssey at: http://www.rpodaventure.com
Dennis Strong says
Do I need a gassoff propane detector for each tank? Or just one on one of the tanks?
Dennis Strong says
Clarification: I have a tank on each side of my 5th wheel.
Dan Warren says
While this article is good for a newbie RVer, containing awesome information, it makes no mention of the fact that the onboard propane detector has a finite life. To be reliable it, usually, needs to be replaced every 5 years. Certainly something to check when buying a used RV that is older than the prescribed 5 years.
A GasStop would be a better recommendation. It stops 100% of the flow in the event of a leak.
Propane never smells like rotten eggs to me. But, I can smell a leak where the propane company (ferrelgas) guys can’t. It took 1/2 hour one time for their testing to show the tank leak that I could smell. The guy said his wife is that way, too. Seems women can smell better than men.
I couldn’t agree more. Women definitely smell better than men.
Brennen Thomas says
Installing it in my RV gives me peace of mind.
These devices are very useful to detect the presence of toxic and flammable gases in my recreational vehicle. I used this MTI Industries RV Propane Alert from the 30 Series Safety Alerts created for harsh RV environments. I’m also very happy with the large mask and small body as these designs cover rough cuts.