propane smell

Discussion in 'Heating / Cooling Systems' started by jsc1648, May 4, 2014.

  1. jsc1648

    jsc1648 Member

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    I have a 2005 Fleetwood Sequoia that I recently purchased lightly used. There is a noticeable propane smell inside that I'm 99% sure is coming from the furnace. It's an Atwood 7916-II model furnace. The furnace works fine, but I've only tested it for functionality. The popup will smell like propane inside and it's strongest right by the output of the furnace. You can smell it from the outside exhaust of the furnace as well. Again, this is a propane smell without using the unit. I sprayed a soapy solution all over the copper line as it goes into the unit and didn't see any bubbles. I also tightened the fittings and that didn't help. Any ideas?

    Thanks
     
  2. Popup Paul

    Popup Paul Member

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    after reading today's headlines about the Pa family, you better have that checked by a professional. Also, you should have a propane detector in the camper. Is it working? You don't want to rely on the detector only, especially if your nose is telling you something is up. Please proceed with caution.
     
  3. Jimbow

    Jimbow Active Member

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    First off shut off the propane from the tank and allow the PUP to air out. When you think it is 100% aired out, wait a couple more hours to do anything.

    What may be happening is the propane is flowing but the furnace is not lighting. Check the owners manual for your furnace and troubleshoot from there. If you are at all uncomfortable about trouble shoot this issue by all mean take it to a dealer. Any RV dealer should have a qualified technician that can work on your furnace, the basics are not PUP specific.
     
  4. jsc1648

    jsc1648 Member

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    Thanks guys. I don't think it's an issue with it lighting. I ran it and let it get hot for about 10 minutes just to see if that would help the issue, but it did not. The heater seems to work fine.

    I should note that when the heater is running, there is NOT a strong propane odor.
     
  5. Jimbow

    Jimbow Active Member

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    Did you check the stove? A burner may be left on.
     
  6. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

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    Does the oven have a pilot?
     
  7. abbadackerygirl

    abbadackerygirl Alabama...yeah it's better than you think.

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    Hey guys, when I was growing up, my dad was a plumber. To check for gas leaks, he filled a squirt bottle with soapy water and would spray the pipes...any bubbles=leaks. I've done the same thing on a blow up kayak. Helped a lot, found out the leak wasn't from the vinyl, but the caps. Easy to replace; saved me a kayak. Worth a try?
     
  8. Jimbow

    Jimbow Active Member

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    The OP already did that. It may be a good idea to try again.
     
  9. tenttrailer

    tenttrailer Art & Joyce - Columbus, O

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    Get it to a shop. They have a sensor and will find it in no time. Most likely it just a lose fitting.
     
  10. jsc1648

    jsc1648 Member

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    As mentioned in the first post, I've already tried the soap solution to look for a leak. I couldn't see any bubbling anywhere. I even pulled the whole unit out about 4 inches so that I could look around to the backside of the fittings.

    The fact that I can smell propane from the exhaust of the heater and right at the fan output of the heater leads me to believe the leak is at the heater.
    Thanks
     
  11. abbadackerygirl

    abbadackerygirl Alabama...yeah it's better than you think.

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    Op, sorry, didn't see that, lol. [:D]
     
  12. jsc1648

    jsc1648 Member

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    Any ideas, folks? I'm considering purchasing a new gas valve for the heater and installing that to see if the leak goes away. It should be an easy swap and I can get one for $50. My thoughts are that the solenoid inside the valve isn't closing completely, allowing a tiny bit of propane to flow into the burner area. This burner or exhaust area is not completely sealed and is letting some propane inside the unit and outside to the exhaust. That's the only way I can explain the smell inside the outside. When I turn the heater on, it behaves as expected and does not smell of propane.
     
  13. JT2

    JT2 Member

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    Yes! Hold that thought and get the camper to somebody who can use a handheld propane detector to wand all your lines. (Contact a local propane supply depot; if they don't have one, ask 'em who does. Failing that, try a dealer or camper repair facility.)

    Your suspicion may be correct, but "may" also implies "may not"...why throw a $50 part at an undiagnosed problem? Your leak may be elsewhere, and the leaking gas may be getting sucked in through the air intake to the heater combustion chamber, thus burning off the extra when the heater runs and eliminating the odor.

    A propane leak is not to be ignored; use definitive measures to find and fix it. Please don't guess.

    PS/ [*waves*] Hi Abbadackerygirl! Glad you're back.
     
  14. BIGTOM

    BIGTOM Member

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    You can get a propane smell when tank is low on fuel. Also was informed that if a tank is topped off instead of running out and then refilled you will get a stronger smell. My propane dealer always would open valve and let tank sit and air out every now and then. But to be safe, get it checked out by a tech.
     
  15. Nandy

    Nandy Active Member

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    You have to be careful when looking for a gas leak, after all, it is a leak, it is gas and all it takes is a bit of static charge to generate the spark and whooffff!!! Been there, done that, no desire to try again... If you insist on testing with the actual LP then open the valve at the tank, give it a min to pressurize then shut it off again that way if there is a accidental fire due to a spark the gas will only feed it for so long...
    I doubt it is your valve, why? because they are actually 2 valves that work in series to avoid leaks, so for you to have a leak out of your valves both valves have to be bad. My guess is that the furnace is not getting the lp burning in the first try. I can recall if this furnace has the "3 try" board like the Suburban does. However, if you want to check the valves that can be done if you remove the valves from the furnace.

    However, How many chances are you willing to take? That is the question. I know I have taken a few.... Will it be worth it to have a person that knows these systems to look at your pup and find the leak? It is your decision of course...

    I know I can remove the valves in both my suburban and Atwood and keep the pipe connection to them. So if you want to check the valves try this:

    You will need:
    Fire extinguisher.
    Fire extinguisher operator (not to be you).
    Spray with soapy water (i think you have that already)
    Lp grill replacement hose with regulator from walmart ($19.00, you might be able to return it if you dont abuse it).
    [​IMG]

    I think you can remove the valve from the furnace without removing the furnace from where it is but I am not 100 percent sure. If you have to remove your furnace disconnect the gas and power lines (note where everything goes or take plenty of pictures),

    [​IMG]

    The yellow cables going to your valves 2 and 3 are you grounds for the valves.
    The red cables going to your valves are your +12vdc to open the valves.
    You obviously need all those cables out.

    Now, this is the part I have not done in Atwood but have in suburban, remove the valve with the burner assembly or better, remove just the valve and not the burner assembly as you dont need it for testing.

    Now hook your valve gas connection to the grill hose, make sure it is secure then hook it to the gas tank and open it up. Smell for lp and use your soapy water to check for leaks. Depending on how your burner is you might have to get creative plugging all the holes but one with tape to test with soapy water. If you find your valves leaks then you know to replace them and are half way into it already. If you dont have leaks then either it was your old connection to the furnace of the leak is from another appliance or somewhere else.

    In that case is better to pressure test your line. There are many ways to do this and the best is that you can use air instead of gas. You have to be careful, most gas lines are test at 15 psi but lots of valves will not take that much pressure over 5 psi. I believe the pressure after your lp gas regulator is not quite 1 psi (The actual measurement is 11wc but this is not useful for checking leaks). So, this will cost you money depending on what hardware you have and how handy you are but you can find your leak in the lines if there is one.
    Get the gauge with the proper fittings, disconnect all gas appliances and plug the gas lines with the proper size plugs, pressurize your line to 15 psi with an air compressor then use soapy water for obvious leaks, wait about 6 hours and check for pressure again. That will tell you if the problem is in the lines. If your pressure still the same then your lines are fine, move on to the other gas appliances. Keep in mind that your leaks are not only in your connections but they can be anywhere in the line where there is a metal to metal rub or in the undercarriage of the pup where a rock could have hit the line.

    Good luck.

    PS - Im sure a respectable shop will just wand over all of your connections and appliances and would be surprise if they will charge you over an hour for just finding the leak. Now, fixing the leak is something you can do depending of where the leak is.
     
  16. abbadackerygirl

    abbadackerygirl Alabama...yeah it's better than you think.

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    *waves back enthusiastically!* "Hiiiiiiiiii!" [:D] Thanks, missed all'y'all!
     
  17. jsc1648

    jsc1648 Member

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    I just wanted to follow up on my fix for this. It was the valve/solenoid unit. I figured it out by removing the set screw type plug on the elbow fitting just before the burner and after the valve. I left the furnace off and turned on the propane. I then held a match up to this hole and it lit like a small pilot light. Just as I suspected, a solenoid wasn't closing and was leaking a small amount of propane into the burner. I swapped out the valve and no more leak.

    Jeff
     
  18. Ryanincc

    Ryanincc Truth is poetry. Most Americans do not like poetry

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    Holy Crap dude! That was not wise. Im glad you're ok.
     
  19. jsc1648

    jsc1648 Member

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    It was a super slow leak. You could hardly see the flame. The match was more dangerous.
     
  20. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

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    Next time have a cameraman standing by just in case. A redneck propane detector, I love it!
     

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