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Propane Leak


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It's been a heck of a week getting Ollie ready for her maiden voyage -- water pump issues last week, and now a propane leak.

We had a couple of cold nights here since we de-winterized, so I opted to run the furnace overnight to make sure things didn't freeze.  I noticed a distinct odor of propane this morning when I went into the camper to pack some more things.  Oddly, the propane detector under the dinette was not going off, and was a steady "green".  But it was definitely propane.  Headed off to Home Depot to buy a sniffer, and that puppy lit up like a christmas tree as soon as I walked into Ollie with it. Huh?

Checked all the fittings at the tank first, since we had recently switched over to gas stop valves, and all was good there (our leak, though, is clearly not big enough to trigger the gas stop function...).  Next stop, the rear of the camper.  No leak at the HW heater, but as soon I put my nose (and the sniffer) near the furnace vent, PROPANE. 

I called Oliver immediately, and Mike was quite surprised that we a) had a propane leak on a brand new camper, and b) that the propane detector was not sounding the alarm. He had us try tightening up the gas line connection inside the furnace compartment, but that didn't really help.  Next step will be to schedule warranty service somewhere.  He's also shipping us a new detector.

Alas, service won't happen before our trip on Sunday, so propane will remain off at the tank. Also, fortunately, this isn't a dry camping trip, so we'll have access to electrical for HW and the fridge.  We haven't converted our campchef stove to quick connects yet, so we'll be able to cook on that outside with a regular tank connection.  We also ordered a Vornado ceramic heater for the chilly mornings we are expecting.  Am I missing anything?

New camper pains....

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MaryBeth
Boulder, CO

2022 Elite II #953
TV: 2021 Ford Expedition Max Platinum, Max Tow Package

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I'm guessing that Mike in Service covered this with you - but - were you still getting heat out of the furnace when you smelled the propane?

2017 Ford F150 Lariat 3.5EB FX4 Max Towing 2016 Oliver Elite II - Hull #117 "Twist"

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Propane is heavier than air, so might still linger if you "fixed" it with tightening the fitting. 

Do take it in for service. It's new. You're covered. And let us know what is found.

 

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

 

 

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1 hour ago, VBistro said:

stop, the rear of the camper.  No leak at the HW heater, but as soon I put my nose (and the sniffer) near the furnace vent, PROPANE.

Inside, or outside?

2008 Ram 1500 4 × 4

2008 Oliver Elite, Hull #12

 

 

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We will absolutely have it serviced. I worked with various hazardous gases as a grad student and have a healthy respect for their lethality/toxicity. 
 

I'm pretty sure that at most we reduced the leak. We aired the cabin out thoroughly. Re-tested with the tanks open, leak detected. Aired out again, then retested with the tanks closed. No leak. I guess it is possible we were detecting residual gas trapped low under the bed. I can do the experiment again, in reverse,  when I get home. 
 

thanks!

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MaryBeth
Boulder, CO

2022 Elite II #953
TV: 2021 Ford Expedition Max Platinum, Max Tow Package

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48 minutes ago, topgun2 said:

I'm guessing that Mike in Service covered this with you - but - were you still getting heat out of the furnace when you smelled the propane?

We were. Nice and toasty

MaryBeth
Boulder, CO

2022 Elite II #953
TV: 2021 Ford Expedition Max Platinum, Max Tow Package

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One other clue that we have a leak: our 30lb tank dropped about a quarter overnight. Seems like a lot for having only run the heater at 45 degrees on a 30 degree night. 

MaryBeth
Boulder, CO

2022 Elite II #953
TV: 2021 Ford Expedition Max Platinum, Max Tow Package

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6 minutes ago, SeaDawg said:

Inside, or outside?

Really, both. My nose and the sniffer picked up propane outside at the furnace vent (without the furnace running) and as soon as I walked Inside the camper. 

MaryBeth
Boulder, CO

2022 Elite II #953
TV: 2021 Ford Expedition Max Platinum, Max Tow Package

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Did you verify the rear quick connect inside the rear bumper is closed and not leaking?  If you don’t have a rear quick connect, there should be a plug in the the last fitting of the gas line running down the curb side of the trailer into the rear bumper area that is worth testing.  Either of those items are very close to your the furnace.

Mossey

 

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Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL   LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

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Wow... Propane leaks are scary.  Last year we had the alarm going off but I wasn't concerned because we had the propane off at the tank and were using a  ceramic cube heater.  Did some checking and after reading the manual for the alarm found that they have a "life" span of about 5 years.   Got that replaced so we should be good for this summer.  

Your cube heater should be fine whenever you are plugged in.  The thing you'll have to be careful of is getting too warm.  I cranked it up one night and woke up at 2 am and it was 85 degrees inside.   Good Luck and thanks for letting us know.  

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Gregg & Donna Scott and Piper the Westie  -    The Flying Sea Turtle - Hull # 145     Western NC


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12 hours ago, VBistro said:

One other clue that we have a leak: our 30lb tank dropped about a quarter overnight. Seems like a lot for having only run the heater at 45 degrees on a 30 degree night. 

I do run our furnace when temps are going to drop below 28-30 degrees here in Texas. Normally our temps do not stay below freezing during the day, so the trailer is not subject to long freezing spells. I do set the thermostat at around 45 degrees and the 20 gal. bottle will last around 3-4 days if left on.  We normally just plug in a small electric heater, but ours quit working and I just haven't got around to getting another one yet, but it's next on the list.  Our trailer at home is plugged in all the time, so using the extra heater makes the most sense.

trainman

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Elite II, Twin Bed, Hull #489, 2019 RAM 1500, 5.7 Hemi, 4X4, Crew Cab, 5'7" bed, Towing Package, 3.92 Gears.

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16 hours ago, VBistro said:

Really, both. My nose and the sniffer picked up propane outside at the furnace vent (without the furnace running) and as soon as I walked Inside the camper. 

Are you using any type of propane leak fluid or just the sniffer and your nose?  I test with a mix of dish soap and water and there are commercial products available.  These options will allow you to pinpoint the leak, where as either of your sniffers will just get you in the neighborhood.

Mossey

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Mike and Krunch   Lutz, FL   LEII #193 “the dog house”

 

 

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19 minutes ago, mossemi said:

Are you using any type of propane leak fluid or just the sniffer and your nose?  I test with a mix of dish soap and water and there are commercial products available.  These options will allow you to pinpoint the leak, where as either of your sniffers will just get you in the neighborhood.

Mossey

True.  I have not tried to pinpoint mostly because when I get in the general area, there are really only a couple of points/joints where the leak is most likely to be coming from, well at least the points that I can see.  More detailed investigation would likley mean pulling things apart, and I would rather an authorized repair person do that since everything is still under warranty.  

But I do have a little squeeze bottle I can use for leak detection -- used it when we installed the gas stop valves before I bought the sniffer.  I'll throw that in the toolbox. Can't hurt to have on the road.

Thanks!

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MaryBeth
Boulder, CO

2022 Elite II #953
TV: 2021 Ford Expedition Max Platinum, Max Tow Package

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4 hours ago, Trainman said:

I do run our furnace when temps are going to drop below 28-30 degrees here in Texas. Normally our temps do not stay below freezing during the day, so the trailer is not subject to long freezing spells. I do set the thermostat at around 45 degrees and the 20 gal. bottle will last around 3-4 days if left on.  We normally just plug in a small electric heater, but ours quit working and I just haven't got around to getting another one yet, but it's next on the list.  Our trailer at home is plugged in all the time, so using the extra heater makes the most sense.

trainman

That's good to know.  We were running the heater only overnight too.  Maybe the quantity we used over the one night wasn't that off.  Still experimenting....

MaryBeth
Boulder, CO

2022 Elite II #953
TV: 2021 Ford Expedition Max Platinum, Max Tow Package

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4 hours ago, VBistro said:

True.  I have not tried to pinpoint mostly because when I get in the general area, there are really only a couple of points/joints where the leak is most likely to be coming from, well at least the points that I can see. 

If you can see the point and can reach it with something like a small disposable paintbrush you can paint some of the dish soap plus water on the area and if there's a leak you'll almost certainly see bubbles appearing fairly quickly there, and they will keep appearing even if you brush them away so long as the area stays wet. 

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Jim and  Yanna, Woodinville WA

2004 Ford E250 camper conversion

Oliver Elite II hull #709

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  • 1 month later...

Hi,

     New here too.  Just picked up Hull #1081, an E2.  Ran furnace a few nights when we first got home.  The following afternoon I was outside near the back of the tailer and my nose detected a whiff of propane.  It was there and then gone, but then I noted same thing a few days later.  I sniffed around, opened the furnace area, and did not notice a thing.  I do have a rear quick connect and from posts above I wonder now if that might have been the source.  I have not noted any propane the last few days...... maybe I should check the levels in my bottles...... a sniffer is a good idea too.

Thanks

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TV 2020 Audi Q7, no weight distribution hitch.  Ollie E2, Hull #1081, born April 2022.

 

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UPDATE:  I performed an LP Drop test on the gas line this week, after tightening up the suspected connection at the furnace, and we have no more leaks.

For those wondering, the best place to do the drop test for us turned out to be the outdoor propane quick-connect.  My local hardware store had a quick connect fitting with a hose barb on the other end that fit our manometer tube perfectly.  SO happy that we can head out for our 10 day boondocking trip and not worry about the propane.  (After we install the replacement propane/CO detector Oliver sent under warranty, of course.)

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MaryBeth
Boulder, CO

2022 Elite II #953
TV: 2021 Ford Expedition Max Platinum, Max Tow Package

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