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 > Very slow propane leak: how to find it?

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dougrainer

Carrolton, Texas

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Posted: 05/16/19 05:41am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

LadyRVer wrote:

I had a LP leak, could smell it at times... turned out to be the gas valve in the water heater. When I shut the hot water heater off, the flame would not go out.
I was told by a few "just blow the flame out." No way. Just a thought. The intermitten LP smell was very hard to find. In my thoughts, LP problems need a professional to fix them. Costly, but safe.


This is very common on older Atwood DSI Water heaters. BUT, the leak is not going to be more than a few ounces a day. Odds are, it is one of your HI pressure Pigtails at the tank. With both Tanks on, twist and wiggle those hoses where they are crimped. Odds are if you have soapy water on those fittings you will see the leak. 1/4 of a gallon a day usually means a HIGH pressure side leak. If it was low pressure, you would smell it in the RV very easily. If the Pigtail leaks replace BOTH. Doug

Dave H M

IL

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Posted: 05/16/19 07:09am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

i have had that ailment that Doug referenced twice. Make sure you wiggle it like Doug suggested.

jkwilson

Indiana

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Posted: 05/16/19 09:01am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Use the Oatey leak detector solution. Much better than soapy water.


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profdant139

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Posted: 05/16/19 09:13am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Some great tips here -- thanks!! I did not know that a diaphragm leak does not blow bubbles -- so that is a great place to start -- new regulator. She does not smell propane inside the trailer, ever, so that tells us the leak is probably outside.

I had never heard of Oatey mega blue soap -- now I know what to look for!

And Doug, that is a very good point about the high pressure side ("upstream" of the regulator) and the low pressure side.

Phil, I am pretty sure it is not the threads in the tank, because the leak occurs regardless of which tank I am using. It would be odd if all of my tanks were afflicted with the same issue.

I will post an update, if and when I get this figured out.


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TurnThePage

North ID

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Posted: 05/16/19 11:35am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I was about 5 years into ownership of my current trailer, when I started smelling propane periodically. And the tanks would run dry if left long enough. Finally found a crack in the fitting for external bbq hookup. Maybe it was installed too tightly and finally just broke?


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profdant139

Southern California

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Posted: 05/16/19 12:13pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Turn, that is a good idea -- I don't use the external hookup, so I have not checked it. It's always possible that it has developed a leak somehow.

Just by way of full disclosure, we take our trailer into some pretty rough territory -- on some of the seldom-used "two track" forest roads, there are small bushes and saplings growing in the grassy space between the tracks. And some of those little branches can whip the underside of the trailer. So far, we have not detected any damage -- just some scratches -- but maybe a really aggressive sagebrush bush attacked our propane lines?

In my next life, my trailer will have diamond plate underneath!

profdant139

Southern California

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Posted: 05/18/19 08:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

So I got some Oatey Mega Bubble -- crawled around under the trailer and applied it everywhere I could reach. No bubbles. So I suspect (hope!) it's a pinhole leak in the diaphragm of the regulator.

I just bought a new regulator and will install it tomorrow and will weigh the propane tank every morning to see if there was any leakage overnight.

If I still have a leak, I will have to take this to a professional. Major money.

I will keep you posted, so to speak.

time2roll

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Posted: 05/18/19 09:33pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I use a flammable gas detector. Good chance it is the regulator if it is 5+ years old.


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Harvey51

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Posted: 05/18/19 10:40pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

When I couldn’t detect a leak with soapy water spray on our old popup tent trailer I tried the very sensitive flame test using a propane torch. It clearly showed the regulator leaking.


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mtofell1

Oregon

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Posted: 05/18/19 10:51pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Statistically, the most likely place is the regulator area. Like others, I've had leaks there as well. There are just lots of connections and often times one leaks.

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