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Old 10-11-2016, 10:03 AM   #1
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Propane smell when running furnace

I have a new Wildwood Lodge 4092BFL (purchased Oct. 2015).

Over the past week we've fired up the heater for the first time this season and I noticed that when I first walk into the camper and the furnace has been running there is a faint odor of propane.

When the furnace isn't running there is no odor. I've sprayed soap solution around the fitting on the top of the furnace and it's not leaking, so I'm curious where this faint odor may be coming from.

I'm not familiar with using propane to heat so a couple questions came to mind:

When burning propane for heat, is there usually a very faint smell that comes through the vents?

If not, where would this smell be coming from? Furnace running rich?

Is there any chance that the intake on the outside of the trailer is pulling some unburnt gas back in from the outlet? Those 2 vents are side by side so seems plausible.

I'd appreciate any thoughts on this one so I can try and resolve the issue. It doesn't seem like there is a propane leak that I need to be concerned about, but it would be nice to not have that faint odor when the furnace runs.

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Old 10-11-2016, 10:53 AM   #2
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What you may be smelling may not be propane. New units will burn off for a little while...kind of an oily stuff. My last trailer was so bad it set the smoke detector off. The one I have now wasn't so bad, but it smelled for a little bit. Run it with the windows open and let it air out and see what happens.

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Old 10-11-2016, 11:08 AM   #3
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Propane smell when running furnace

New units definitely smell for a short while the first time they are used.

First run of the season, after not using for a while, can also stink a little for a short period.

It is just oils and junk.
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Old 10-11-2016, 12:21 PM   #4
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I had an odor when running the heater. Turned out to be feces and urine infested nests in my ductwork and heater. Hope that isn't your case.

If odor does not go away I'd consider possibility of a cracked heater exchange manifold. A CO detector designed to test for CO leaks should be used to determine if combustion gasses are being vented into your ductwork.
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Old 10-11-2016, 03:27 PM   #5
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The two vents you mention on the outside of the RV which are close together are both for the combustion chamber of the furnace, as it draws combustion air from outside, rather than from inside the living space. No worries there.
If you're running rich, you will generally see black staining around the exhaust vent. The most likely cause of this would be debris in the combustion air intake, such as mud dauber nests, etc.

You should already have a permanently installed carbon monoxide detector in the living quarters, generally very close to the furnace. THe ones I've seen in FR products display a green light normally, and red on activation, along with a VERY loud beep.

The other answers dealing with "first time fire up" smells are very probably correct. Since the furnaces typically do not have air filters, dust does gather on the heat exchanger, and when the furnace is manufactured, there's a lot of oily residue on the surfaces too, from lubricant used in the metal forming process. This is normal.
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Old 10-11-2016, 06:50 PM   #6
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I do have a CO detector in the kitchen at floor level. The green light you mentioned is on and it did not alarm so I think we're good there.

Hopefully with more use the smell goes away.
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Old 10-11-2016, 07:42 PM   #7
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furnace and propane smell

I had a problem with my furnace when it shut down, could smell propane. I found a wire loose on the time delay relay on furnace. When you turn your furnace on, the fan should begin to blow and continue for 30 seconds or so before the burner kicks in. When the furnace kicks off or fire goes out, the fan should continue for around a minute to blow all of unburnt propane out of burner. In my case, the fan was shutting off when the burner shut off and I could smell the unburned propane. I tighten the loose wire connection and never had any more propane smell. This may or may not be your problem, but I would check all the wiring for security.
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Old 10-20-2016, 10:47 AM   #8
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Definitely burn that furnace smell off before you have to use it while camping. You may need to open windows and doors and run vent fans and unfortunately waste some propane but it's worth it so you don't choke on the fumes in actual use.

That said, the artificial "smell" of propane is very distinctive. If you smell that, don't use the furnace until it's checked by a qualified technician. It's not something one can risk the RV and your lives over.

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furnace, propane

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