Author Topic: Propane leak in camper  (Read 872 times)

Offline surfivor

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Propane leak in camper
« on: April 29, 2018, 05:14:12 PM »
 I have a very small truck camper that I bought new last September. When I was camping in it last fall there was no problem, recently however, the propane alarm was going off. I called the guy where I bought it, he thought the RV battery was probably low. He said that could cause the alarm to go off. When it happened again, I called him again and he said I should charge the battery by plugging the RV into my house as it would only charge slow off of the truck battery and I was not driving it a lot. However, it seems it is a propane leak because I was charging it from my house and I had the propane on at the tank. After 20 minutes the alarm went off, sounding every 5 seconds. I went out there and I opened the sky light and ran the fan on the skylight and opened the camper door. This caused the alarm to stop sounding in about 60 seconds. The stove was off, so I am inclined to think there is a leak. If there is a propane odor it is very slight and hard to tell, but apparently the detector is very sensitive. I had left the tank on over the winter and it was empty in March which I thought was odd because I did not use it that much camping but I thought maybe the stove had been on slightly.

Hopefully I still have some sort of warranty, I think I do but I have to drive all the way back over there to the RV place if I have to do that which is an hour away.

How can one go about pinpointing were a leak may be ? I don't see how it could be at the tank because the tank is on an exterior compartment and even looks like it has a vent to the outside. There is a furnace unit so that and a two burner stove are the only things that use propane.

Offline Stwood

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2018, 05:29:48 PM »
Take an old windex or similar squirt bottle and put some dish soap (small amount) and water in it. Shake well and squirt that on all the connections. You may/may not find some bubbles, which if it bubbles at a connection, you have a leak.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2018, 06:12:21 PM »
I find it a good practice to turn off the propane tank valve when not actively camping, keeps bad stuff from happening. So, it is off while driving and off while parked at my house, and turned on when I am at the place I am camping. I believe most people do this as best practice.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2018, 08:29:23 AM »

 I tried to spray soapy water on the stove top burners and the top of the propane tank. I did not see any obvious signs of a leak that way but as I said it seems there is a leak someplace. I did not see how to remove the stove top as the nobs prevent the removal and there must be some trick to remove the nobs but I did not figure out how. I did not try to remove the plate on the side of the camper were the furnace internals are. I will call the RV place tomorrow as they are closed on Mondays

The stove is this model. I tried to google how to take the burner top off, but did not find anything



https://pantherrvproducts.com/dometic-atwood-dv20s-56494-drop-in-2-burner-propane-cooktop-stainless/


Offline Stwood

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2018, 08:33:53 AM »
That type of knob should pull straight up

Offline surfivor

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2018, 08:41:57 AM »
That type of knob should pull straight up

Ok, I will try that tonight, thanks

Offline Redman

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2018, 08:50:36 AM »

The stove is this model. I tried to google how to take the burner top off, but did not find anything



https://pantherrvproducts.com/dometic-atwood-dv20s-56494-drop-in-2-burner-propane-cooktop-stainless/

Appears easy enough. Pull the knobs straight up as Stwood suggested. Lift off the two grates, they should be just sitting there. remove the screws at each side and lift that part off. The piping should be exposed then. Also look under the cooktop for a regulator or other connections that could leak.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2018, 09:08:35 AM »
Appears easy enough. Pull the knobs straight up as Stwood suggested. Lift off the two grates, they should be just sitting there. remove the screws at each side and lift that part off. The piping should be exposed then. Also look under the cooktop for a regulator or other connections that could leak.

 Yes, I took the screws out. I am not sure if I will mess with the furnace just yet. I think I will start with the stove and call the RV place tomorrow

Offline Carl

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2018, 09:44:22 AM »
  The out gassing of plastics within an RV can cause a false alert on some gas detectors also. When alarm sounds...turn off gas at bottle and listen another day or two so you can determine if the bottle gas or synthetics are at fault.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2018, 10:33:15 AM »
  The out gassing of plastics within an RV can cause a false alert on some gas detectors also. When alarm sounds...turn off gas at bottle and listen another day or two so you can determine if the bottle gas or synthetics are at fault.

 It doesn't seem to be that but I will try another test just to double check anyway

Offline Billie D

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2018, 10:36:32 AM »
So... I'm all for doing things on our own, and learning these things so we know how to do them. And, the squirt bottle test would be the first thing I'd try as well.

But -  Gas can be serious.  And, if like you said, this is still new and most likely under warranty- I think I'd get it over to them to have them correct anything that may be wrong to protect you (both your health, and the remainder of your warranty) and them (from any potential issues this could cause).

Offline Stwood

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2018, 11:40:44 AM »
So... I'm all for doing things on our own, and learning these things so we know how to do them. And, the squirt bottle test would be the first thing I'd try as well.

But -  Gas can be serious.  And, if like you said, this is still new and most likely under warranty- I think I'd get it over to them to have them correct anything that may be wrong to protect you (both your health, and the remainder of your warranty) and them (from any potential issues this could cause).

Yes, I tend to agree. I would think the dealer would be right on it after the first call concerning a problem, especially a gas leak.
I've seen the results of a large RV that had a gas leak and explosion inside it. It burnt to the ground. Frame, axles, engine and trans were all that was left.

Offline surfivor

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2018, 04:19:28 PM »
 I am planning on calling the RV place tomorrow, they are not open on Sundays or Mondays. If it is something simple I would like to be able to address it myself and taking the stove top off should not be too hard.

 I have owned 3 campers and my parents owned some campers also. None of those campers ever had propane leak detectors.

 It's good that that leak detector is there and that it works. Figuring out RV stuff is complicated and time consuming. On my old truck camper I was never able to figure out how to wire it to the truck's electrical system even though they told me it would be easy. When I tried it, I think I blew fuses. This time I made sure I paid the RV place to do that work.

 The fridge on my old RV also stopped working, stuff always seems to fall out of the fridge anyway when you're driving. That reminds me the fridge is the other possible source of the leak as I have a 3 way fridge on this thing but I have not used it since last fall, I just brought my yeti cooler with some ice up to the beach for the day of surfing and hanging out this past Saturday. It was warm enough that it didn't matter that I couldn't run the furnace for very long.

 This is the most expensive camper I have owned. People walk up to me at the beach or gas station and compliment me on the camper. That is something I am not used to. Some guy walked up to me at the gas station, I thought maybe it was someone I knew but he just wanted to say "awesome rig you have there !". I would have got a cheaper one, but going this light their are few or none available.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2018, 04:35:46 PM by surfivor »

Offline surfivor

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2018, 06:51:48 PM »

 I am back at my house and managed to get the stove top off. I took the fridge cover off on the outside and realized that the propane connection going into the fridge was loose by about 1/10th of a turn so that I could turn it myself by hand. I tightened it a little going easy with a wrench and am hoping maybe that was it but I have to go out there and turn the propane on and see if the alarm goes off or not and whether or not that fixed it

Offline surfivor

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2018, 08:00:16 PM »
 That could have been the leak, the camper has been out there for 45 minutes with the gas and DC power on and the alarm hasn't gone off yet.

 It's funny that the compartment that has the propane tank is vented at the bottom so any leak would flow to the exterior of the camper. The fridge exterior is right above it. They could have vented it into the top of the tank compartment but it is not vented from the bottom but from the side a little higher up so the propane apparently can leak into the unit if that is what has been going on.

Offline mountainmoma

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2018, 08:59:26 PM »
That could have been the leak, the camper has been out there for 45 minutes with the gas and DC power on and the alarm hasn't gone off yet.

 It's funny that the compartment that has the propane tank is vented at the bottom so any leak would flow to the exterior of the camper. The fridge exterior is right above it. They could have vented it into the top of the tank compartment but it is not vented from the bottom but from the side a little higher up so the propane apparently can leak into the unit if that is what has been going on.

Isnt propane heavy and it sinks ?

Offline surfivor

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Re: Propane leak in camper
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2018, 02:46:14 AM »
Isnt propane heavy and it sinks ?

Yes but the tank compartment is vented on the bottom but the fridge compartment is vented on the side which seems less than ideal