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Old 02-20-2018, 11:42 AM   #1
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Can't find source of propane smell...

I think this phenomenon is recent...I get a propane smell at the tanks located on the tongue. This seems to only happen when the flow of propane is stopping. Examples include furnace cycling off, turning off the bbq, hot water heater cycling off, etc. When propane is flowing I get no smell at all. Smell is not overwhelming...you need to be at the tanks to smell it.

I've gone over the tanks, hoses and regulator with soapy water and get nothing. I don't seem to be losing propane.

Any thoughts?
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Old 02-20-2018, 12:06 PM   #2
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Since it happens when flow stops I am guessing it would be the regulator. Only thing that "changes" between "flow" and "no flow".

It doesn't take much of a leak for you to smell the stinky additive.

Have you done the leak test where you turn off all appliances and both tanks. Then wait for the indicator on the regulator that indicates there's pressure in the line to either remain green or change to red after waiting an hour or so.

Ideally you could shut off the tanks and appliances and this indicator would remain green for days. Small leaks will cause it to change.
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Old 02-20-2018, 12:28 PM   #3
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Thanks Mike...

Excellent suggestion. Just went out and charged the system. Regulator to green. Shut off propane and regulator to red within thirty seconds and the associated smell of propane.

Looks like regulators are under $50. Probably not worth trying to dig into this one?? Any brands to stay away from? The current regulator is a Winntec less that 3 years old. Located the leak coming from the bottom of the regulator out of a small screen.

Thanks again!
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Old 02-20-2018, 12:30 PM   #4
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Is your battery located near by?
Years ago I chased a similar smell on my tanks and it turned out to be the battery didn't have any water in it. Smelled just like propane. Just something you might want to check if your battery is in the same area.
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Old 02-20-2018, 01:10 PM   #5
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My regulator went bad in about 18 months. Try to find a replacement that you will not have to change the mounting or hose configuration. Rector seal dope on the threads.
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Old 02-20-2018, 01:14 PM   #6
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Thanks all...

Just called my Good Sam extended warranty plan. Regulator is covered. Just email photos of the leaky (soap bubbles) area and the invoice for the new part. Or take it in for repair...NOT.
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Old 02-20-2018, 01:18 PM   #7
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IF I'm not mistaken from my training when employed years ago: Most, but not all, regulators are designed to "vent" the gas held within the regulator housing when the supply (pressure) to the regulator has been turned off. When you turn your tanks off the regulator will balance itself, there will be a very small amount of LP gas vented out of the vent port, you found it, it has the screen. This also happens when an appliance using LP gas shuts down. The LP gas is no longer flowing so the regulator vents the gas within the pressure chamber to reduce damage. As stated in post #2 the additive they put in LP gas smells for a reason. The venting of the gas within the regulator is also the reason your gauge goes to red in a short amount of time. Personally, if everything that uses LP gas is working well I would not replace the regulator at this time.
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Old 02-20-2018, 02:12 PM   #8
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The name of the substance is...

[QUOTE=Thurman;1736194 the additive they put in LP gas smells for a reason. [/QUOTE]

And the name of that smelly substance is...mercaptan.

The primary use is to add scent to odorless natural gas and propane. A secondary use is to treat diseases of fruits, vegetables, and ornamental plants.

Occasionally someone uses it to treat fungus on his roses. Guaranteed to have all the neighbors calling the gas company.

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Old 02-20-2018, 02:14 PM   #9
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The vent with the screen is there for atmospheric pressure to equalize. If the vent was not there the diaphragm would not flex to allow gas to flow. You have a pin hole in the diaphragm, probably under the spring plate on the diaphragm and it seals the hole when the gas valve is open.
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Old 02-20-2018, 04:37 PM   #10
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I agree with Scrapper,
Normal operation of the regulator should never allow gas at the regulator body vent. Diaphram is kaput! Replace the regulator.
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Old 02-20-2018, 07:56 PM   #11
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That little "red/green" indicator is a leak detector as well as telling you you are empty on propane.

I turned my tanks off back in December when I winterized. Went back out to the trailer to do some work and wanted heat. Before I turned on the tanks, the indicator was still green.

I agree, find a regulator that fits exactly the same without having to make changes. In my experience they all seem to be about the same. Some fail in a couple of years and others will last for decades.

I'd also keep a hose or two on hand as spares.
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Old 02-20-2018, 10:29 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by todtc318 View Post
Excellent suggestion. Just went out and charged the system. Regulator to green. Shut off propane and regulator to red within thirty seconds and the associated smell of propane.

Looks like regulators are under $50. Probably not worth trying to dig into this one?? Any brands to stay away from? The current regulator is a Winntec less that 3 years old. Located the leak coming from the bottom of the regulator out of a small screen.

Thanks again!
Had the same thing on the 5er. Replaced it with;

Cavagna
Cavagna (52-A-890-0006C) Auto Changeover Regulator Kit
3.7 out of 5 stars

Price:
$58.71 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Old 02-20-2018, 10:56 PM   #13
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Cavagna and Camco regulators have had some poor reviews with cold weather operation and high flow operation.

I replaced my 10 year old Fairchild regulator with a Marshall regulator and also replaced the 30 PSI regulator on the other side of my 5th wheel. Since my RV is 10 years old, I also replaced all of the flexible lines so I can have another 10 years of worry free use. Total cost was about $150 but well worth it. I'm glad that my system lost all of its propane while in storage and that it didn't happen in the back-country during our annual vacation.

As a general rule, I never rely on my auto-changer over regulator to switch tanks for me because I don't want my backup 2nd tank to run dry if there is a failure in my propane delivery system. I always leave my backup tank valve closed.
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Old 02-22-2018, 11:53 AM   #14
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When your tank is fully opened or fully closed the valve seats. As you are opening your propane tank your are moving the valve from the closed, fully seated position. When the valve unseats a small amount of gas may pass around the stem, may. Once the valve is fully open the valve seats again. A scent may be noticed. If so get your soap bubbles out and check to see if it is the stem. If so, make sure the bubbles stop once the valve is fully back seated.
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