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Old 07-19-2006, 05:18 PM   #1
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How to check for propane leaks?

The copper pipe feeding my hot water tank looks pretty rough, I don't smell any propane but how can I check it for leaks. I have used water with soap in it and look for bubbles- what else could I do? Thanks, Don
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Old 07-19-2006, 05:29 PM   #2
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that's plenty good enough. Nose and soap bubbles covers it all.
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Old 07-19-2006, 08:22 PM   #3
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I found leaks at the International with soap and water that the "safety team" with their leak detector missed. Its a good way to check.
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Old 07-19-2006, 09:38 PM   #4
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Try not to beat the ignorance out of me to hard.....


I know this is absolutely frowned upon, just wondering the scientific? reasoning. Why is checking for leaks with a match not a good idea? - (Whoa slow down and let me finish, don't everyone jump to tell me how ignorant I am yet)

After all, you light the pilot on your stove. You light the pilot on the fridge, and you light a pilot on the water heater. Those are all basically a “leak”, albeit a deliberate and very small one. I’m sure there is some kind of “check valve” to prevent the flame from backing up the supply line in those appliances, but the tanks are similarly protected – or not?

Bracing for the backdraft now - o.k. unleash!
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Old 07-19-2006, 10:36 PM   #5
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If there were a small leak the flame would flare-up some and you could tell that there was a problem. If there were a larger leak ( I know you can smell the propane) you could get an uncontrolable fire. Most soap and water will not burn and therefore takes all the fun out of finding a leak, but sometimes you can have too much fun!
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Old 07-19-2006, 10:48 PM   #6
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Thanks guys, This thread was more fun then I thought it would be. I did buy a $ 2.69 bottle of a liquid called "Gas Leak Detector" from the hardware store. It will bubble to show a leak soooo I am sure I just bought some expensive soap! Thanks for now, Don
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Old 07-20-2006, 12:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by GreatPumpkin
Why is checking for leaks with a match not a good idea?
The real reason is that an undetected leak can build up a concentration of LP gas in a confined space over a period of hours, days or months. Even outside on a calm day, an external leak of the heavier-than-air LP gas can form a low cloud over a prolonged period. When mixed with oxygen from the air in the correct proportion, an explosive mixture is created. This link describes why this mixture is more efficient than TNT for explosive effect:
http://ej.iop.org/links/q24/x,PITHgq.../d5_23_017.pdf
About 30 years ago we were sailing off the coast of England in the wooden sailing yacht I had just finished building. My wife was down in the cabin, brewing a pot of tea. She had earlier used the LP gas stove for cooking, and had turned off the gas at the knob, but inadvertently left the knob slightly "on". A gradual build-up of gas had developed. When she lit a match to relight the stove, an explosion occurred. She emerged from the cabin with no eyelashes and singed eyebrows, but fortunately no serious injury. We were very lucky. Since then, sensibly priced 12 volt LP gas detectors have become available, and our yacht is fitted with two sensors and an alarm.
Nick.
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Old 07-20-2006, 12:49 AM   #8
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Good info link...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nickcrowhurst
The real reason is that an undetected leak can build up a concentration of LP gas in a confined space over a period of hours, days or months. Even outside on a calm day, an external leak of the heavier-than-air LP gas can form a low cloud over a prolonged period. When mixed with oxygen from the air in the correct proportion, an explosive mixture is created. This link describes why this mixture is more efficient than TNT for explosive effect:
http://ej.iop.org/links/q24/x,PITHgq.../d5_23_017.pdf
About 30 years ago we were sailing off the coast of England in the wooden sailing yacht I had just finished building. My wife was down in the cabin, brewing a pot of tea. She had earlier used the LP gas stove for cooking, and had turned off the gas at the knob, but inadvertently left the knob slightly "on". A gradual build-up of gas had developed. When she lit a match to relight the stove, an explosion occurred. She emerged from the cabin with no eyelashes and singed eyebrows, but fortunately no serious injury. We were very lucky. Since then, sensibly priced 12 volt LP gas detectors have become available, and our yacht is fitted with two sensors and an alarm.
Nick.

I understand that if there was a buildup there is a potential for explosion, but theoretically you should be able to smell that much propane. You wouldn't need to determine if you have a leak or not.
In removing the pile of rust that used to be a furnace from my AS, I put a shutoff valve on the end of the supply line, and then capped that. I then turned on the propane and waved a lit match over the joints and determined that I do have a infinitely small leak where the supply goes into the shutoff. I got a light smaller than a pilot light, but enought to show a definite leak. Meanwhile my wife happened to wander through and thought I had lost all my marbles . However there was no harm no foul. For now I'll remove the incoming line and cap it off under the trailer. As an added safety precaution when we are camping I simply turn off the gas at the tanks each night. (We haven't replaced the furnace yet, next years project)

I've experienced the explosion effect when lighting my backyard grill one time. I was lighting it with the lid closed (ignoring the instructions to never to never do that ). Well it didn't light right away, so when it finally caught, it had enough buildup that it blew the lid open. It/I made enough noise my neighbors looked over the fence to see if I was still there Lesson learned.
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Old 07-20-2006, 03:07 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreatPumpkin
I understand that if there was a buildup there is a potential for explosion, but theoretically you should be able to smell that much propane. You wouldn't need to determine if you have a leak or not.
Unfortunately this is not my experience. The LP gas is heavier than air, and behaves in some ways like a liquid, rather than a gas. The gas in our yacht pooled in the bilges and up to about my wife's waist level, where she lit the match for the hob, but it did not reach as high as her nose, as she said she smelled no gas. Darwinian theory suggests that sea-going yachtpeople will eventually grow olefactory organs at the end of their toes!
Nick.
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Old 07-20-2006, 07:00 AM   #10
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A couple years ago I thought it prudent to have the pros do a complete check up of our 23's LPG system. The RV dealer's service guy had a meter that he hooked into the LPG system. He explained it was very sensitive to any leaks. Even though we smelled no gas he found 3 or 4 leaks in various locations throughout the trailer. All leaks were at couplings in the LPG lines.

We will spend the $75. for the LPG safety check often.
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Old 07-20-2006, 10:25 AM   #11
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another test you can do is to start with your normally pressurized system, and the gas on at the tanks, all gas valves set to "on", but all gas appliances turned off...light a stove burner, to make sure all is flowing normally. then shut it off. Then go outside and shut off the propane tanks.

then come back to the trailer a half hour or an hour later, and see if you can light the stove. It should light and burn for a few seconds just off the pressure in the lines. If there's a leak anywhere, that pressure will escape, and you won't be able to light a burner.
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Old 07-20-2006, 02:22 PM   #12
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Question about the Fridge.

Glad I came across this thread. We pick up our new AS on Monday from the dealer and I will ask about detection sensors, shutoff valve loations and any other tips where to look for leaks inside the AS.

Our dealer told us to plug the fridge into electric the night before a trip so the fridge is cold and than turn on the LP until we arrive at our desitination. I tend to think it will be better to pack food in coolers until we arrive at the campsite to plug in to electric than travelling with the LP tanks on. Which brings a question to mind. How long on average does it take to get the fridge cold starting from normal room temperature?
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Old 07-20-2006, 11:05 PM   #13
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Chuck, that's a good test I'll do that one this weekend. Thanks, Don
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Old 07-20-2006, 11:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nickcrowhurst
The real reason is that an undetected leak can build up a concentration of LP gas in a confined space over a period of hours, days or months. Even outside on a calm day, an external leak of the heavier-than-air LP gas can form a low cloud over a prolonged period. When mixed with oxygen from the air in the correct proportion, an explosive mixture is created. This link describes why this mixture is more efficient than TNT for explosive effect:
http://ej.iop.org/links/q24/x,PITHgq.../d5_23_017.pdf
About 30 years ago we were sailing off the coast of England in the wooden sailing yacht I had just finished building. My wife was down in the cabin, brewing a pot of tea. She had earlier used the LP gas stove for cooking, and had turned off the gas at the knob, but inadvertently left the knob slightly "on". A gradual build-up of gas had developed. When she lit a match to relight the stove, an explosion occurred. She emerged from the cabin with no eyelashes and singed eyebrows, but fortunately no serious injury. We were very lucky. Since then, sensibly priced 12 volt LP gas detectors have become available, and our yacht is fitted with two sensors and an alarm.
Nick.
All the boats that I've sailed on, all had alcohol stoves for this very reason.
In fact I can't recall ever seeing a LP stove on a sailboat.

Mark
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