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Old 02-12-2016, 06:57 PM   #1
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Red Smelly Liquid in Propane Lines

I am bringing up a new (to us) trailer. Several projects are in the works. On the propane side, the water heater is weird (see post in plumbing). I am adding a quick disconnect for a grill. In the process I disconnected the rubber feed hose from the main copper line and an ounce or so of really smelly red liquid came out. My working theory is it is compressor oil from a propane fill station that absorbed whatever the stinky stuff is that they put in propane. It had the appearance and feel of hydraulic fluid but smelled really bad.

Anything I should be concerned about?

Thanks,

Al
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Old 02-12-2016, 07:17 PM   #2
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I have seen this on a camper before. I suspect you are correct and it is a concentrated form of the chemical added for smell. Not sure what to do except drain it out. Let us know what you find out.
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Old 02-12-2016, 07:22 PM   #3
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There are oils which precipitate out of propane and over time will accumulate in low spots in the lines. I am not sure if it is part of the petroleum or the odorizor, but it is common in older units.
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Old 02-12-2016, 07:47 PM   #4
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I've read it described as in post #2 & #3 above. Also heard that those liquids can leach out compounds from the flex hose below the tanks. In the worst case, they can block the flow enough to reduce the gas pressure at your appliances. Good to drain it.
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Old 02-13-2016, 03:22 PM   #5
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RVGeeks did a YouTube video re: winter camping. I was not aware that at winter temperatures, particularly when using an extension hose, oil can "settle" out from the gaseous propane. It would be wise for you to consult a propane specialist.
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Old 02-23-2016, 04:57 PM   #6
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Our 2016 23FB was on its first trip last week and the propane quit flowing to the appliances. Had a LPG vendor check the system. Oil of some kind was in either the propane or the tanks and it fouled the regulators. The dealer who filled the tanks when the rig was bought said his propane was OK, so the tanks must have come from A/S with the oil in them. Had to purge the tanks of LPG, fill up with fresh propane and install new regulators. A/S customer service said send them the bill. They did not seem surprised by the oil in the LPG bottles.
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Old 02-23-2016, 05:05 PM   #7
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Post #6 above makes one wonder what if any QC (quality control) tests were done at the factory or if the dealer even did the PDI (pre-delivery inspection) hands on instead of sitting at a desk.
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Old 02-23-2016, 06:05 PM   #8
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That gooey stuff sometimes gets into a filler's supply tank. It is a by-product of the refining process that usually doesn't wind up in great quantity in the filler's tank and, from there, unintentionally pumped in harmful quantity into a customer's cylinder. Airstream's fault? Nope. Filler's fault? No, not really. Refiner's fault? Probably.
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Old 03-03-2016, 02:42 PM   #9
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I'm also looking at replacing the LP tank regulator and rubber lines on my Excella 1000 and expect to see some liquid deposits draining from the hard line under the trailer, can this line be cleaned/flushed to get all the residue out? My other options include to either replace the copper line as well as the rubber lines or just drain out what I can and reconnect the original copper line to new rubber lines. Any suggestions would be appreciated... Thanks...
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Old 03-03-2016, 03:11 PM   #10
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In retrospect I probably only got a tablespoon or two out of my 2002. It seemed to be in the rubber hose between the tanks and the hard line. That may have been the low point in the system; it is also a very low pressure line so I wouldn't think it would migrate very far, except for gravity flow. When I disconnected the union from the hard line, nothing came out.

You could maybe just disconnect the appliance lines at the other end and blow it out with compressed air if you are concerned. I don't have a clue as to an appropriate solvent to flush with. Mine had the consistency of hydraulic fluid.

Al
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Old 03-03-2016, 05:36 PM   #11
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The oil is an added odorant. It is added by law. It contains mercaptain , the smelly part
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Old 03-03-2016, 07:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtomicNo13 View Post
The oil is an added odorant. It is added by law. It contains mercaptain , the smelly part
This is partially correct.

Mercaptan is the odorant that is required to be added to consumer grade propane. Propane itself is odorless, so the odorant is added to ensure a leak can be detected by smell (as a precaution). Mercaptan itself is a colorless gas, not a liquid.

Although it is entirely possible that a liquid may have absorbed some of the smell, the liquid itself would not be mercaptan, nor would it be propane in a normal temperature and at normal atmospheric pressure.

This sounds like some sort of contaminant has found it's way into your system; likely from a fill station with quality control or supply issues. I would recommend having the system purged (with nitrogen) and refilled. Hope you get it all sorted out without much expense!
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Old 03-04-2016, 09:34 AM   #13
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At the consumer level, oil, containing the odorant is added to the odorless log gas.
The accumulated oil in the low part of the lines is that accumulated oil, we all have it depending on the amount of gas sent through the lines.
I drain mine once a year.
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Old 03-08-2017, 03:09 PM   #14
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Liquified Petroleum Gas.... it's made from petroleum. A mist of oil is sometimes precipitated out inside storage tanks and supply lines.
Blow it out with compressed air or flood the lines with alcohol and then blow it out.
It's rare that sufficient quantities accumulate to actually cause trouble and most users never know it.
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