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Old 12-30-2015, 11:55 AM   #1
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Furnace leak or normal?

Hi all,

I recently installed a Suburban NT- 30-SP. it seems to work flawlessly, the issue i have is after a cycle there is a faint propane smell. I have been over all connections several times and can not find a leak. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:21 PM   #2
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If you are close to being out of gas in the tank you are using now, it is not uncommon for there to be a propane smell in almost empty tanks. Yes, I know that sounds strange, but the odorant in the gas builds up in a liquid form in the bottom of old tanks and does not seem to burn off with the propane.

So, if you can find no other leak, check with a full tank and see if the smell is still there.

There are also internal connections within the furnace itself, like to the gas valve, and the valve itself which you may not have checked and are causing the odor.
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Old 12-30-2015, 12:45 PM   #3
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Is the smell inside or outside? I have whatever original furnace is in my airstream. I sometimes have a faint smell outside but never inside. I think it may also be related to being towards the end of a tank, but never really paid that close attention, thinking it was the same as the stove, a bit of propane coming out when starting up.
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Old 12-30-2015, 02:56 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by dwr223 View Post
I recently installed a Suburban NT- 30-SP. it seems to work flawlessly, the issue i have is after a cycle there is a faint propane smell. I have been over all connections several times and can not find a leak. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
You should not be able to smell propane from a properly-working furnace; the propane burns and exhausts to the outside, not inside.

Propane with odorants added is detectable by smell at 20,000 parts per million. The lower explosive limit (LEL) of propane is 21,000 parts per million. Your trailer's LPG detector should give an alarm at 10% of the LEL, or about 2,100 parts per million.

Which means that your alarm should go off long before there's enough propane in the air to smell it.

Which leads to the reasonable supposition that what you're smelling isn't propane. If your furnace is still new, you could be smelling oils and/or dust being burned off of the heating elements.

But just to be sure, try this experiment. Assuming you have a pressure gauge on your propane connection (built into the pressure regulator? Since I have an Interstate with a built-in tank, there's no gauge on mine to check), you can shut off all of your propane-using appliances. Measure the pressure in the lines, then shut off the valve at the propane cylinder. Wait a couple of hours, then check the pressure again. If the pressure has dropped, you have a leak, somewhere. This won't tell you where the leak is, but it will at least tell you if there is a leak that needs to be found.
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Old 12-30-2015, 11:32 PM   #5
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Thank you for all the help. This was my first post, wish I'd found this site earlier. Turns out the stove pilot valve was on, not lit. Which leads to another question, shouldn't the lp detector have alarmed?
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Old 12-31-2015, 12:01 AM   #6
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Thank you for all the help. This was my first post, wish I'd found this site earlier. Turns out the stove pilot valve was on, not lit. Which leads to another question, shouldn't the lp detector have alarmed?
It should have if concentrations were high enough to detect by nose. But your Airstream is a 1987, and there's no telling how old the LPG detector is. They don't last forever.
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Old 12-31-2015, 09:26 AM   #7
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Ah, glad you found the source of the smell. As Protagonist says LP gas detectors (and CO detectors and smoke detectors) have a finite life, and don't work forever.
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Old 12-31-2015, 11:03 AM   #8
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If I have the pilot light lit when the tank goes empty, the light will go out, but the smell starts. It may be an extremely low flow as the tanks warm up with the sun. Then maybe the alarm will sound, but when I catch a whiff, I know to check the oven.
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Old 01-01-2016, 10:53 AM   #9
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I've forgotten to shut off the stove burner pilot several times and it never produces enough gas to trigger the detector. The pilot gas volume is so small it disperses long before the concentration gets to danger levels. Same thing for your Oven pilot. Some of these run continuously (Not the burner pilot which comes on when you twist the oven control), but the flame is smaller than a BB so there is not much gas build up.
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