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-   -   What is this obnoxious sulphur smell inside our trailer? (http://www.airforums.com/forums/f44/what-is-this-obnoxious-sulphur-smell-inside-our-trailer-140346.html)

Ntex 08-26-2015 09:41 PM

What is this obnoxious sulphur smell inside our trailer?
 
We are traveling in Colorado and Wyoming. Last night, after setting up our 2004 Classic 28, and going out for awhile, we returned to a distinct sulphur or rotten egg smell in the trailer. It wasn't the water or our tanks or the trailer park sewer system.....we checked that out. It was most evident in the living area and in the front half of the trailer, but during the night with the windows closed it permeated everywhere. This morning my husband saw liquid dripping from the battery compartment. He left that open and we thoroughly aired out the trailer today and the smell seems to be gone. Tonight, we have closed the windows again and there is so far no smell. My husband thinks maybe it was battery acid that had expanded and leaked out as we gained altitude going into the Rockies. I would like to confirm that and do anything else that we need to do to in light of the incident. Any ideas? Thoughts?


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cameront120 08-26-2015 09:43 PM

That's your propane. Something is leaking. Is the oven or range on and unlit? Shut everything down and find the source of the leak.

Ntex 08-26-2015 09:59 PM

Ok. Do they add that bad smell to propane like they do to natural gas?


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dayner 08-26-2015 10:04 PM

Yes, pure propane is essentially odorless as is natural gas. A tiny amount of methyl or ethyl mercaptan is added as a safety warning precaution.

Farmer Dan 08-26-2015 10:15 PM

I would check the batteries. We had that sulphur smell once and it was a battery going bad or being overcharged / overheated. It was quite strong!!!

Dan

Someday'59 08-26-2015 10:27 PM

I second the battery theory!

You might need to replace a battery (or two.)

nrgtrakr 08-26-2015 10:53 PM

Propane and over cooked batteries have very different smells. Either way, not good to breathe. Shut off the gas and unplug the electricity. Check the battery.

Ntex 08-26-2015 11:24 PM

We have not had the propane on since starting the trip. However, I failed to turn the refrigerator off that morning before we started out. It is the type that automatically switches to gas if there is no electricity. I wonder if that had something to do with it.


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Protagonist 08-26-2015 11:40 PM

Important question, do you have an LPG detector in your Airstream? And if you do, is it working?

I ask this because if you had propane leaking to the point that you could smell it, then the LPG detector should have gone off as well. NFPA 58— and by extension the fire codes of 49 of the 50 states that have adopted some edition of NFPA as the basis for their own propane gas codes— requires that the odorant added to propane be detectable by smell when the propane concentration reaches 20% of the lower explosive limit. Of course, not everyone's nose is the same, and smokers in particular might not be able to smell propane until the concentration is much higher.

Anyway, your LPG detector is supposed to sound an alarm when the concentration of propane in the air reaches 10% of the lower explosive limit. In other words, unless you've got the sensitive nose of a perfume maker, the LPG detector should sound an alarm long before you could smell the propane.

Which is is pretty fair indication that the smell you smelled was not a propane leak.

The sulfuric acid smell of leaking battery electrolyte has nothing to do with the electrolyte expanding with altitude. Otherwise airplanes never could have used wet-cell batteries before other types of batteries were invented. Airplanes reach higher altitudes and stay there longer, and if they lost acid due to electrolyte expansion at high altitudes every plane would have landed with ruined batteries and acid-etched wings or fuselages at the battery location.

However, it is possible that a battery leaked because it overcharged. When a 12v wet-cell battery reaches 13.8 volts or higher and stays that way, it will boil, and there will be a distinctive acid smell given off. This normally happens when there is one or more bad cells in the battery, and the battery will typically show signs of bulging or other damage to the battery case.

Ntex 08-26-2015 11:59 PM

Yes. We have a detector, it is working, and it did not sound an alarm.


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Ntex 08-27-2015 12:01 AM

We do not see any bulging or other visual indication of a problem with the batteries, but it sounds like we should get them checked out.


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overlander63 08-27-2015 04:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ntex (Post 1675450)
Yes. We have a detector, it is working, and it did not sound an alarm.


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Don't rely on that! I just checked a brand-new Airstream that had a leaking LP connection at the stove. The LP detector never went off, but the whole inside of the trailer had that "LP smell".

xrvr 08-27-2015 05:53 AM

If the propane is turned off at the tank it must be the battery.

Protagonist 08-27-2015 06:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by overlander63 (Post 1675469)
Don't rely on that! I just checked a brand-new Airstream that had a leaking LP connection at the stove. The LP detector never went off, but the whole inside of the trailer had that "LP smell".

That tells me the detector is defective and needs to be checked and/or replaced. Seriously. If you can smell propane, the concentration is at least twice as high as the detector should warn you about, and probably more. While you're standing, your breathing zone is five feet off the floor, and the LPG detector is less than a foot off the floor. So if the concentration is 20% of the lower explosive limit five feet off the floor, how high is it at floor level?

Also, long before propane becomes an explosion hazard, it's toxic to breathe and can cause permanent nervous system damage. The level at which it becomes dangerous to breathe is about 10% of the lower explosive limit— the same level at which the alarm is supposed to go off— so if you can smell it, it's already hurting you.

AtomicNo13 08-27-2015 06:52 AM

Seems to me that if your battery box is leaking, that's the place to suspect!
Your trailer most likely has a really crappy single stage converter (battery charger) and it has boiled your battery dry..... Thus ruining it!
When overcharged the battery will produce the putrid sulphur smell!
You need to replace the converter with a more modern smart or 4 stage converter. And replace your battery.
Makes no spence to do the latter without curing the problem first!
The battery acid is very dangerous stuff, you'll have to neutralize and remove all traces for the obvious reasons!
In future you'll want to physically inspect the electrolyte level weekly, more in hot weather!
That battery as it is can be a bomb if you continue to use it as is!
Best of luck!

jdalrymple 08-27-2015 07:10 AM

t is not propane. It is an overcharge and probably boiled dry battery.

Pry the battery caps off and see.

If your trailer is equipped, use the "USE-STORE" battery disconnect switch to isolate the batteries from the converter.

IF you have no such switch, disconnect the positive battery lead, but wrap tape around it to keep if from shorting against the battery box.

The appliances will still function from the converter and the vehicle charge source.

You will probably need new batteries.


Regards,

JD

mandolindave 08-27-2015 08:35 AM

Lesson learned….thanks Protag…..again
 
If not for the leakage in the batt compartment, I would have suspected water being the cause of the sulfur smell. Then I would have suspected an altitude caused problem. I would not have guessed propane because I know what propane smells like.

BUT…I am surprised that no one asked how the batts were performing.

AtomicNo13 08-27-2015 08:43 AM

A dry battery will still yield power, just not very long, well!

tjdonahoe 08-27-2015 08:45 AM

If your battery was leaking, you better get the garden hose and wash everything down, the battery might have shorted out internally, but get the checked out and check for propane leaks....:cool:

mimiandrews 08-27-2015 08:51 AM

Respectfully disagree
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by jdalrymple (Post 1675498)
IF you have no such switch, disconnect the positive battery lead, but wrap tape around it to keep if from shorting against the battery box.
JD

Always remove the negative battery cable first. If your wrench hits the metal structure of the trailer when doing this, nothing happens. Once the negative cable is disconnected, the same is true for the positive terminal.

If you just need to isolate the battery from the system, disconnecting the negative cable will do the job.


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