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Old 04-26-2010, 05:47 PM   #1
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greenie needs help - slideout, propane?

OK folks here we go, I'm about as green to airstreams as they come. I made the jump to full time in a 03 28' Safari with S/O while I'm doing some work in the lower 48. I bought this unit used from a guy who knew as much about airstream's as I did so he is no help at all. Two problems I've encountered so far.
My waterheater ignites, heats fine and all, the problems come's when I turn it off at the switch in the bathroom, wait say 10-15 minutes, I go out to the unit bin and I can smell propane. Turn the gas off at the tanks wait another 10-15, the smell is gone. I feel like there may be a valve in the regulator at the waterheater that may be stuck.?? So it seems to free flow when there is no flame.
Second
My slideout LEAKS ! Arrg. I even asked the guy if it did when I bought the unit and of course he said no. If i'd know at the time I could have taken it somewhere when I had free time but now i'm stuck in BFE South Carolina with no support. It's a small leak around the front end of the S/O that drips down to the couch and floor, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:32 AM   #2
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Greenie,
Sounds to me like you diagnosis is possible; I.E. a defective water heater control valve, but maybe not. It could also be a leak near there or elsewhere; or too high a pressure, either condition is not safe. My suggestion is you immediately turn off the propane, then have a certified propane technician or certified RV technician diagnosis the whole situation. Unlike natural gas, propane is heavier than air and tends to get trapped and accumulate in voids, underneath the belly wrap, and in compartments. This can easily go boom in a big way given a source of ignition -think any spark from any source, which is present of course in the water heater igniter.

Sorry, I cannot help you on the slide-out; my experience based on other's comments and motorhomes is that every slide-out or pop-out leaks sometime. Try using the search function on the forums; I am sure there are tips somewhere.

Your Airstream manual (the big binder-I hope you have it) has some of the basics for troubleshooting the LPG system.

IF you are a DIY, you MUST invest in a high quality LPG gas leak detector to be 100% sure; they are somewhat spendy (mine was $200 about 10 years ago, they are less now I hear). In the old days, all we had was soapy water; that works but is very slow, not too accurate and you must have ready access and good vision to check all the piping and connections.
WLJ
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Old 05-03-2010, 10:52 AM   #3
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My 2 cents

I watched a tech check for propane leaks by putting a glass jar with water in it into the propane line at the tanks. It was rigged such as to direct any moving propane thru the water in the jar. We shut off all appliances and turned on the propane, any bubbles indicate a leak. So, do this, turn on the water heater-lots of bubbles-turn the heater off-should be no bubbles. Also, get to check the entire system for leaks.

About the water leak, surely there is someone from this forum near you who can help.

Safety first, if in doubt, shut it all down until you can get to it.

Good luck with all this.
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:31 PM   #4
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Thanks folks for the response's, I'm in the middle of a downpour now so maybe I can locate the leak, as far as the propane goes I'll wait till the rain stops ! Ill keep you updated and thanks again for the info.
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:43 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by RoadHungry
Thanks folks for the response's, I'm in the middle of a downpour now so maybe I can locate the leak, as far as the propane goes I'll wait till the rain stops ! Ill keep you updated and thanks again for the info.
Well resealed the entire roof along with the rest of possible leak areas on the seams. No luck. Still leaking at the bottom of the slideout next to the couch. Arrrg. Propane was simple fix.pulled off ends and cleaned them out with wire brush and re-taped the attachment points. Been working great for months. Still need help with the slide-out leak. Suggestions please
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Old 02-05-2011, 03:52 PM   #6
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Where is BFE South Carolina?
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Old 02-05-2011, 04:06 PM   #7
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I don't have a slideout, but one person who did observed that the gasket can fold underneath itself when the slideout is pulled in. Sometimes it doesn't pop back out when you deploy the slideout. You may be able to push it out with a dowel rod or even your awning tool. A ladder is necessary to see how the gasket looks. I think - though I'm not certain - that there is some kind of lubricant you can use on the slide and the gasket so that there will be less friction when opening and closing, but I'd call the factory and ask. You might check your documentation that came with the trailer. Is there anything special about maintaining the slide?

Paula
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Old 02-05-2011, 04:53 PM   #8
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There is a can of stuff used to lube the slide out gasket. It is called, surprisingly, Slide Out Lube.
If you are still in BFE South Carolina, there is an Airstream dealer both in South Carolina, and one in North Carolina. I can tell you the one in North Carolina can probably get your trailer in pretty quick to look it over, if you're close by. It may be as simple as needing an adjustment. They're in Colfax.
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Old 02-05-2011, 05:25 PM   #9
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First thing, get you a sheet of plastic and some Duct Tape. That's how we fix things here in BFE, SC. No one around here will think less of you if you duct tape some plastic on your roof. It is normal down here.
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Old 02-05-2011, 06:01 PM   #10
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First thing, get you a sheet of plastic and some Duct Tape. That's how we fix things here in BFE, SC. No one around here will think less of you if you duct tape some plastic on your roof. It is normal down here.
One of the guys at the shop across the street made a pair of gloves out of duct tape. It worked okay until he tried to remove them. Maybe he should have left the sticky side out...
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Old 02-05-2011, 06:12 PM   #11
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Well ... Propane was simple fix.pulled off ends and cleaned them out with wire brush and re-taped the attachment points. Been working great for months. ..Suggestions please
I'm not 100% sure...but all the joints on Propane should NOT use tape...double flare on metal-to-metal and o-ring on the tank hookup points...

Am I missing something?
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Old 02-05-2011, 07:03 PM   #12
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I'm not 100% sure...but all the joints on Propane should NOT use tape...double flare on metal-to-metal and o-ring on the tank hookup points...

Am I missing something?
Ho Ho you are 100% right. Flared fittings need no tape and threaded fittings get pipe dope never teflon tape ever. Also wire brushing flare fittings should not be done.
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Old 02-05-2011, 09:38 PM   #13
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Road Hungry.....we have a slide out and the few times it has leaked was while we were learning too...this is oour second slide 1st on a SOB but with the stream, I am careful to make sure that the wide gasket around the top and sides is not folded back....do this by stopping a few inches from fully deployed ,standing on the bench and with my hand(spatula if I can't reach) and pushing the edge touching the slide out..push out...also make sure the unit is not tilted forward or toward the door....this way the water that collects will not drain inside...sounds more complecated than it is and we now have no leaks....even in HEAVY down pours...being in alaska might cause some freezing issues with the drainage too.....good luck I know how disappointed you have been....
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Old 02-05-2011, 09:38 PM   #14
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Hello Roadhungry

Welcome to the forums and to the aluminum lifestyle

I myself have done a good deal of propane (and natural gas and air and...) plumbing and find that soapy water is highly effective in finding leaks.

You can use bottles of stuff sold for leak detection at the hardware store or save a few bucks and just get the kiddie bubble stuff at walmart or whatever. That's what I use these days. Dish soap mixed with water will work ok too in a pinch but the bubbles don't last as long so they're harder to see.

You may find that a flare fitting has come loose or you may find a hole in a copper line due to abrasion or a direct hit from a rock or another piece of road debris.

The slide gaskets are prone to leakage and require cleaning, lubrication, and occasional replacement. There are threads on here. Use the google search feature to find them. I do not have a slide myself so I can only point the way.
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