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Propane Maintenance

3 May 2018

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Propane, or Liquid Petroleum (LP) is an essential part of your RV as it can supply the energy needed for everything from heating, A/C, grilling, cooking, hot showers to running the refrigerator. All RVs on the market today have a hookup for LP gas, but some older models may not and in these cases it's possible to convert a generator to use propane.

If RV hookups are available at your camping destination, you'll want to use propane sparingly to save money on costs. If you're boondocking or camping somewhere without hookups, propane will allow you to have full use of your amenities and it's usually easy to find a store or station that will replace empty canisters for new ones. 

Quick tip: Always close and secure propane tanks to the outside of your trailer while driving. Never leave canisters inside the RV where they could become mobile.

 Propane for the most part is a clean, safe energy source, but two of the most common issues with it are leakage and broken regulators. Let's start with the latter.

regulators

Your regulator is the device that 'regulates' (would you believe that?) the amount of gas released from the tank. There are a few big indicators that your propane regulator needs to be replaced. 

- Your burners stop working. Appliances require the regulator to maintain constant pressure, so if this stops working, the appliance can stop working as well.

- The flame on your grill jumps or changes colour. This is a sign of incomplete combustion or improper burning of the propane.

- You can smell propane. If you smell gas from the regulator, this is a sure sign something is wrong. 

- Your regulator has been submerged under water. Debris or chemicals from the water may wreak havoc with your regulator. You should replace the regulator, even if it seems to still be working or looks undamaged. This is a great reason to make sure you have a propane cover in good condition. If you don't, you can pick one up at our parts department.

There is no repairing a broken regulator and once it fails, it must be replaced. Luckily this is not an expensive fix, and if you're comfortable with replacing the regulator yourself you may want to travel with a spare one in storage on long trips, just in case of a failure. After all, if you don't have hookups, camping without the use of propane might not be as fun as say... being able to use your fridge, stove and shower ;)

leak test copy

 

 

DSC00007A propane leak can be a dangerous thing, and you can't always detect a leak by smell alone. That's why it's very important to maintain your trailer's CO2 detector and replace it every 5 years. We sell a wide variety of CO2 detectors in our Parts department, and right now you can receive a $10-$20 mail-in rebate on all Safe-T Alarm Carbon Monoxide/LP Gas Alarms purchased in-store only. 

If you ever suspect a leak that you can't detect, leave the RV and call authorities. Don't try to find the source of the leak or open windows as even a static spark could ignite a propane leak. 

The Soap Test

A simple way to test for propane leaks is the soap test. Run soapy water along your propane connections. If you see new bubbles forming, you know there's a leak. 

The 'Psst' Test

Another simply way to test for leaks is the 'psst' test.

Step 1: Turn off all appliances

Step 2: Open the valve on the propane supply cylinder. This pressurizes the system. Close the valve again.

Step 3: Return in a couple of hours and open the valve. If you hear a "Pssst" sound, you've got a leak.

Neither of these tests are definitive however, so you want to be sure you're using a CO2 and LP gas alarm to keep you and your family camping smart and safe.

We also stock an easy-to-install Camco Propane Gauge and Leak Detectors, which is a great way to check propane levels at a glance. The gauge also reads pressure and is a good indicator of a leak. 

Drop by our Sydney or New Glasgow Parts Stores today to pick up any of the products mentioned above or call us at 902-752-3164 if you have questions about your propane system.

 

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What our customers are saying

“Jonathan I wanted to let you know how pleased I am with the service I have gotten from you both during the last 6 years. First when my wife was terminally ill and wanted us to buy a trailer and couldn't make the trip to New Glasgow, You arranged to have one brought down to my home. That shows how much the customer means to Stones RV!” ~ Gerry Boudreau