rvupgradestore.com Composet Products Fridge Defend
RV Life Magazine RV Park Reviews RV Trip Wizard

Author Topic: Propane Smell  (Read 577 times)

8Muddypaws

  • ---
  • Posts: 3101
Propane Smell
« on: February 11, 2020, 09:03:31 PM »
We're in Cottonwood, AZ.  On the way here we stopped and had our propane tank filled.  Once we arrived we went to 'Wild Hog' BBQ for dinner (good place).  When we got back there was a note on our door that there was a strong propane smell coming from our rig. 

I checked the fill and overfill port with soapy water but there was no leak.  I found a few comments online about overpressure valves in the regulator venting and I just wanted to check with the experts here if that's a real thing.  Is that a real thing on motorhomes?
« Last Edit: February 11, 2020, 09:56:49 PM by 8Muddypaws »
Retired computer professional
Musician, songwriter,  mediocre guitar player.
2006 Bounder 34H, 2014 Edge Towed

Lou Schneider

  • Global Moderator
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 10325
Re: Propane Smell
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2020, 11:37:02 PM »
There is an overpressure valve in the tank itself, not in the regulator.  It's designed to vent excess pressure if the liquid propane in the tank expands too much and raises the tank pressure beyond normal limits.

If the valve did vent, you won't find anything with a leak test as it seals tight once the overpressure is relieved. 

Old_Crow

  • ---
  • Posts: 1909
  • Phormer Phantom Phixer
Re: Propane Smell
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2020, 05:54:36 AM »
Some places open the vent valve(yeah, I know it's not really a vent)on the tank, some don't.  I've noticed that when they open the valve during filling a residual smell lingers for a half hour or so, especially if the guy lets quite a bit of liquid gas escape before he shuts the valve).  If it wasn't too far from the propane place to the BBQ place, maybe that's all it was.
Wally Crow
Retired 30+ year ASE Master Auto Tech
Y2K Bounder 36S F53   "Kobayashi Maru"
'03 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
FMCA F494768

"Well, my time of not taking you seriously is coming to a middle."

Gary RV_Wizard

  • Forum Staff
  • ---
  • *
  • Posts: 71177
  • RVer Emeritus
Re: Propane Smell
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2020, 07:17:47 AM »
Two different things have been mentioned here. One is the over-pressure relief valve on the tank which vents to prevent an explosion to to extreme pressure. It's designed to open in extremes, like an external fire causing a huge expansion of the gas in the tank.  Very, very rare for it to vent in any lesser situation, but it may [theoretically, anyway] be possible of the tank was way overfilled.  The other thing is the 80% "spitter" valve, which is supposed to be open as the tank is being filled. When liquid propane reaches the spitter valve, the tank is at the 80% level, which is "full" for propane. Then the 80% spitter valve is closed.  If it wasn't closed tightly, fumes will leak. 


Gary
--------------
Gary Brinck
Summers: Black Mountain, NC
Home: Ocala National Forest, FL

8Muddypaws

  • ---
  • Posts: 3101
Re: Propane Smell
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2020, 07:54:16 AM »
Thanks Gary. 

The first thing I did was to open and close the 'spitter valve' tighter.  By 9PM last night the smell had mostly dissipated.  Then I crawled under the rig to get at the pressure regulator and could smell it there.  I'm going to put some soapy water in a spray bottle and try that area for leaks. 
Retired computer professional
Musician, songwriter,  mediocre guitar player.
2006 Bounder 34H, 2014 Edge Towed

ChasA

  • ---
  • Posts: 1668
Re: Propane Smell
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2020, 08:04:52 AM »
When I had a similar issue the problem was diaphragm in the regulator leaking.
Apex, NC
2010 Winnebago journey Express 34Y
2018 Ford Edge SEL
Air Force One towed brakes
Blue Ox towed setup

8Muddypaws

  • ---
  • Posts: 3101
Re: Propane Smell
« Reply #6 on: February 12, 2020, 09:09:36 AM »
Whatever it was, it isn't now.  No trace of odor anymore.

It's probably time to replace the regulator.  I'll crawl under there to get a picture and try to find a replacement.  But since there doesn't appear to be any immediate problem(s) I'll replace it and the OPV when we get home.

(I just counted on my finger and toes and figured out how old it is, next year we'll have a 'Sweet 16' party)

Retired computer professional
Musician, songwriter,  mediocre guitar player.
2006 Bounder 34H, 2014 Edge Towed

skydivemark

  • ---
  • Posts: 363
Re: Propane Smell
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2020, 12:26:31 PM »
Our previous rig had an odor like that once, it was about 12-13 years old at the time. My wife could smell it but I couldn't until I walked around it to where the breeze was just right. I crawled under it, traced the line from the tank and found it had rubbed the stair housing enough to cause a small hole. After shutting it off I cut out the bad portion and spliced in a new section (with solder).
2015 Thor Four Winds 31L
Clermont, FL

Isaac-1

  • ---
  • Posts: 3678
Re: Propane Smell
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2020, 01:43:21 PM »
I too was going to suggest replacing the regulator if it is still the original based on age, as the rubber diaphragms tend to dry rot over time.  Replacing every 10 years is a good rule of thumb.
2002 Safari Trek 2830

garyb1st

  • ---
  • Posts: 3662
Re: Propane Smell
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2020, 04:14:47 PM »
Both previous owners replaced the regulator on our propane tank and there was still an order which was very apparent when the hatch door was opened.  We also replaced the regulator before finding the leak.  It was leaking at the plug that the sending unit sits on.  Fix requires removing the tank and inserting new plug.  Or as I suspect in our case, just putting on new joint compound.  That $500 repair didn't last and it's leaking again.  The service center is going to do it again.  But I suspect this time they'll just tighten the plug.  The tank needs to be removed to position the sending unit correctly.  It sits inside the tank and will not be accurate if installed when laying on its side.  At least that was the story I got. 
Gary B1st

2005 Pace Arrow 35G
2016 Jeep Wrangler


Poverty exists not because we cannot feed the poor, but because we cannot satisfy the rich.