A little bit of something to think about on a Saturday afternoon...
If one seriously ponders the worst case scenario of a failed propane system, it kinds of shakes a person up. Least of ones problems is loss of propane, a highly flammable fuel.
The propane system is out of sight and therefore out of mind - yet all propane-burning appliances need periodic maintenance, as does the gas system.
We can choose to limit our spending by waiting until a component fails, thought it is apt to be more costly in the long run, or we can opt for putting into practice a little preventive maintenance.
The heart of the system is the propane pressure regulator.
The propane regulator is mostly likely the hardest working single component found on the RV. It must keep up with constantly fluctuating internal propane container pressures, then regulate and deliver a nice smooth, even flow of gas to each of the appliances. And it must do this continually whenever the main service valve is open. It is a relatively inexpensive component and RVers can easily carry a spare regulator whenever and wherever they travel. In the event of regulator failure, in most cases, replacement is mandatory.
It is worthwhile to learn how it works and why it is therefore probably a good idea to shut it down when it is not needed...it is constantly at work to regulate the changes in pressure, due to fluctuations in temperature.
At a minimum once a year or before and at the end of each trip your regulator should be tested to be sure it will lock-up at the appropriate pressure. No, you can't adjust it, it either locks up properly or is defective and unrepairable....and also check for propane leakage.
The regulator must be able to “breathe” as the diaphragm expands and contracts inside the regulator body, so it can flex. The vent openings for each stage must be kept clean and free from moisture, dirt, mud, snow or any other type of muck that may plug or block them. This is equally crucial for both the first and second stages.
The single-most effective method of protecting the regulator is to replace broken or missing covers.
Only a certified or master certified RV service technician is permitted to adjust the propane pressure regulator! It mandates the use of special measuring devices. Pro technicians are trained to conduct a few other tests to the propane system as well, to be sure it is not leaking and responding properly...this include a regulator lock-up test and a timed drop pressure leak test.
I also use a propane sniffer at specific points in the system to verify or discover leaks.
Like electricity, propane must be respected. In order to be respected, it must be understood. In order to be understood it must be studied. Unfortunately, many owners just aren't aware of how serious these two issues are in an RV and neglect to take the time to deeply understand them.
You should check or have your propane and electrical systems checked at the beginning and end of each road trip, or at least annually.
It is my way of thinking that an RV is less a dream and lifestyle, and more a hobby and constant efforts to keep on the road.