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Old 06-13-2015, 03:00 PM   #1
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san francisco , California
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Slight Propane Smell Right by Shutoff

i was snooping around under the coach and i noticed that if i turned on the propane cutoff switch and then stuck my nose under the coach almost all the way up to where the actual shutoff valve is I could smell a whiff of propane. i spayed some soapy water and didn't see any bubbles or anything. would it be normal to have a slight smell right in that area or is there likely a small leak somewhere?
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Old 06-13-2015, 04:10 PM   #2
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If you smell gas you have a leak. Nothing to mess around with. Have the system leak tested ASAP.
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Old 06-13-2015, 04:17 PM   #3
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thanks. i think i have this one resolved. there were two connections, on on either side of this device (part of the shutoff?) with the foil tape. neither was really loose, but i could turn tighten each connection a bit with my crescent wrench. then i turned on the valve, didn't smell anything. then i ran the generator for a bit. got under there, still nothing. i'll continue to monitor it though. any other odors and off to the shop it goes.
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Old 06-13-2015, 04:19 PM   #4
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I would recommend taking it to any HVAC repair and have them use a "sniffer". It's a handheld device with a small gooseneck and sensor at the end. It can find leaks that wont necessarily bubble up with soapy water. That smell is a compound called Oronite that is added to Nat and Propane gasses.
You probably have a miniscule intermittent leak at the valve. Easy fix.
Clayton
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Old 06-14-2015, 07:12 AM   #5
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After buying my new to me Safari I stopped off at Jackson Center to have a couple of immediate safety problems looked at. While there I had them do a complete inspection of all systems. I mentioned there was occasionally a gas smell. The tech used a leak detector at the gas joints and valves. He found a cracked fitting behind the frig. Due to low pressure it was causing a slow start when operating the frig on gas.
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Old 06-14-2015, 11:56 AM   #6
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2 propane leaks

I had 2 propane leaks. 1 was the regulator. Solved on recall. The 2 nd was the purge valve.
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Old 06-14-2015, 11:59 AM   #7
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Watkinsville , Georgia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwcmick View Post
i was snooping around under the coach and i noticed that if i turned on the propane cutoff switch and then stuck my nose under the coach almost all the way up to where the actual shutoff valve is I could smell a whiff of propane. i spayed some soapy water and didn't see any bubbles or anything. would it be normal to have a slight smell right in that area or is there likely a small leak somewhere?
Put a good flashlight by the valve, then go to the kitchen & put a drop of dish soap in a half a Dixie-cup of water. Stir, then drip the mix all over your shut-off valve. Especially soak the shaft of the shut-off knob and the tubing connections. Turn on your flashlight and study the soaked valve, looking for bubbling especially at the base of the valve stem and where the tubing joins the valve. If you see any bubbling, shut the gas off at the bottle & take it to your dealer.
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Old 06-14-2015, 12:07 PM   #8
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I finally "bit the bullet" last autumn and bought a propane sniffer myself. I went with the CD100A Combustible Gas Detector, which can be ordered from Amazon for about $151 these days, I think. This thing is pretty much perfect for troubleshooting propane leaks- you can literally dial down the sensitivity to where you can quickly zoom in on minute gas leaks at a specific fitting, even with a very slow leak. It's got a long extendible probe, so you can poke it into small spaces where you wouldn't easily be able to use the soapy water test, and it's much much faster and easier than soapy water - perfect for my own impatient troubleshooting style. In the time I've had it, I've used it to trace a natural gas leak in my house at the dryer, find a loose fitting on my truck camper propane supply, find a troublesome long-time very slow seep on my Airstream (which was slow enough that it would have been hard to detect with soapy water), and test countless other fittings on my Airstream to make sure they *weren't* leaking. A valuable little tool which has paid for itself multiple times over for me. Something to think about for the toolbox.

aJ
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Old 06-14-2015, 02:07 PM   #9
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1977 31' Sovereign
Lynnwood , Washington
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A slight propane smell could be several things:

1) Propane tank is low. Correction, pressure in the tank i not adequate to sustain operation of an appliance. Pilot light goes out, but propane is still flowing thru pilot light orifice, albeit at very low pressure.

2) You have a loose fitting. Check fitting tightness. If a fitting won't tighten, it could be cracked.

Note - Under low-low propane pressure, the soap bubble test doesn't always work. Indeed, propane pressure beyond the regulator is pretty low anyway, about 7 psi.

3) Propane sniffers can be pricey, but a good investment nevertheless.

The rule here is this: If you think you smell propane, it's because you do - even it's for a fleeting moment. Never doubt olfactory sensor reception, especially that of your better half. LOL

Tom
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Old 06-14-2015, 03:47 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by NavyCorpsman View Post
I would recommend taking it to any HVAC repair and have them use a "sniffer". It's a handheld device with a small gooseneck and sensor at the end. It can find leaks that wont necessarily bubble up with soapy water. That smell is a compound called Oronite that is added to Nat and Propane gasses.
You probably have a miniscule intermittent leak at the valve. Easy fix.
Clayton
rwcmick -- this is a very good recommendation. You have had a few issues with this 2011 rig. It might be time to get it to a good knowledgeable Airstream Dealer that knows Interstates and have it checked over. I recall you recently bought it used from a private party. Unfortunately all RV dealers are very busy this time of year.

NavyCorpsman -- best I can tell Oronite is a business division of Chevron.
https://www.oronite.com/about/
I think the smelly chemical compound in LP and Natural Gas is Ethanethiol.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanethiol
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Old 06-14-2015, 06:15 PM   #11
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boxster1971 View Post
rwcmick -- this is a very good recommendation. You have had a few issues with this 2011 rig. It might be time to get it to a good knowledgeable Airstream Dealer that knows Interstates and have it checked over. I recall you recently bought it used from a private party. Unfortunately all RV dealers are very busy this time of year.

NavyCorpsman -- best I can tell Oronite is a business division of Chevron.
https://www.oronite.com/about/
I think the smelly chemical compound in LP and Natural Gas is Ethanethiol.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanethiol
How 'bout "Mercaptan" for a smell????
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Old 06-14-2015, 06:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyCorpsman View Post
I would recommend taking it to any HVAC repair and have them use a "sniffer". It's a handheld device with a small gooseneck and sensor at the end. It can find leaks that wont necessarily bubble up with soapy water. That smell is a compound called Oronite that is added to Nat and Propane gasses.
You probably have a miniscule intermittent leak at the valve. Easy fix.
Clayton
Natural gas ad propane have different smells. If oronite is added to propane, ok, I have never heard what it is called. After 40 years of working for a natural gas company I know that the odorant used in natural gas is called mercapton.
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Old 06-14-2015, 06:53 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MelGoddard View Post
How 'bout "Mercaptan" for a smell????
Bingo.

I'm not too familiar with the Interstates - my recent B-van was a Sprinter Westfalia, imported by Airstream in 2005. JC had to convert 250 of these vans to meet US DOT and RVIA specs. My LP tank, right below the curb side slider, had a pressure gauge. Do the Interstates have pressure gauges?

If there's a pressure gauge in the system, you have a leak detector built in. It's easy to use: Make sure all LPG appliances are off, with their individual valves closed. Note the reading on the pressure gauge. Stick a piece of tape on the face of the gauge that lines up with the edge of the indicator in the gauge so you'll know exactly where the indicator is. Open the valve to the stove and light a burner. Turn the burner off at the stove and wait a while. 5 minutes should do it, but it could take longer if the leak is really tiny or the tank is low. (Best to do this leakdown test with a full tank.) Have another look at the gauge. If the needle has moved at all, you've got a leak. If all is good, you have proven that the main feeder from the tank to all the shutoff valves, and the line to the stove, are OK. Now proceed to the next appliance and open the valve. Don't start it - just open the valve. Wait a while and check the gauge. As soon as you see a drop, you have identified the portion of the system - appliance or piping - that needs fixing.
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Old 06-14-2015, 11:14 PM   #14
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san francisco , California
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Originally Posted by Boxster1971 View Post
rwcmick -- this is a very good recommendation. You have had a few issues with this 2011 rig. It might be time to get it to a good knowledgeable Airstream Dealer that knows Interstates and have it checked over. I recall you recently bought it used from a private party. Unfortunately all RV dealers are very busy this time of year.

NavyCorpsman -- best I can tell Oronite is a business division of Chevron.


https://www.oronite.com/about/
I think the smelly chemical compound in LP and Natural Gas is Ethanethiol.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanethiol

Thanks but I actually bought it from an Airstream dealer and I've seen what they are capable of. :-(
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