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Old 03-22-2023, 04:40 PM   #1
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Gas Water Heater On = Propane Smell Inside RV

Water heater model: Suburban SW6DE

Obviously, in electric only mode, there's no gas smell.

When the gas switch is turned on, water heats up faster (as expected) but there's a smell of gas / propane inside the RV and it seems to be coming from the furnace ducting... It's quite strong and noticeable (primarily in the bathroom and is made worse when the ceiling fan is on, regardless of whether the windows are open).

Could unburned propane somehow be pulled through the furnace?

The only recent events are that our LP tank was refilled and there was some sub-freezing overnight temps (furnace was turned on and off as needed). Not sure if either of those have anything to do with this issue.
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Old 03-22-2023, 06:08 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by besweeet View Post
Water heater model: Suburban SW6DE

Obviously, in electric only mode, there's no gas smell.

When the gas switch is turned on, water heats up faster (as expected) but there's a smell of gas / propane inside the RV and it seems to be coming from the furnace ducting... It's quite strong and noticeable (primarily in the bathroom and is made worse when the ceiling fan is on, regardless of whether the windows are open).

Could unburned propane somehow be pulled through the furnace?

The only recent events are that our LP tank was refilled and there was some sub-freezing overnight temps (furnace was turned on and off as needed). Not sure if either of those have anything to do with this issue.
The smell of propane in an RV is serious business.
You need to have this looked at immediately.
If itís that obvious, Iím also concerned that your LP detector isnít sounding.
Thatís also a serious concern.

Please get this looked at ASAP.
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Old 03-22-2023, 06:47 PM   #3
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The smell isn't making its way through the whole RV but rather situated in the bathroom (the ceiling fan is likely preventing it from getting everywhere).

Definitely only coming through the furnace vents even if the furnace isn't on.
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Old 03-22-2023, 07:46 PM   #4
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I've used this at home to find a leak.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/HOME-FLE...-001/301876827
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Old 03-23-2023, 02:17 PM   #5
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Location: Raleigh, NC
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It's a motorhome

Quote:
Originally Posted by besweeet View Post
Water heater model: Suburban SW6DE

Obviously, in electric only mode, there's no gas smell.

When the gas switch is turned on, water heats up faster (as expected) but there's a smell of gas / propane inside the RV and it seems to be coming from the furnace ducting... It's quite strong and noticeable (primarily in the bathroom and is made worse when the ceiling fan is on, regardless of whether the windows are open).

Could unburned propane somehow be pulled through the furnace?

The only recent events are that our LP tank was refilled and there was some sub-freezing overnight temps (furnace was turned on and off as needed). Not sure if either of those have anything to do with this issue.
Since the odor only occurs when the water heater is on, the leak must be occurring at the solenoid valve (electromagnetically-controlled valve) that controls gas flow.

This means that the area of leakage is limited to the valve and the short piece of tubing and orifice beyond that. On Page 30 of the attached manual, you will see:
  • 36 Valve
  • 56 1/4" Loxit Nut
  • 37 Outlet Manifold
  • 55 1/4" Loxit Nut
  • 26 Burner assembly with orifice
These items are pretty much in direct view when you open the (outside) door to the heater.

Put about a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid in a coffee cup and fill it mostly with water (proportions aren't critical). Stir it to a healthy froth. Use a small paint brush to paint the solution onto all the areas listed above, looking for bubbles. If you can smell gas, the leak will be very easy to find--lots of bubbles.

Also check that the burner assembly (26) end is properly positioned in horseshoe clip 53.

This is not rocket science and doesn't need an exotic leak tester.
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