RV Propane Detector False Alarm: What To Do

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A propane tank with gauge

An RV Propane detector is a useful tool that can alert you if there is a dangerous leak inside your camper. Unfortunately, sometimes this detector will go off when there is no propane scent in the air. So, what could be causing the alarm to go off, and should you be concerned about it?

In this article, we will discuss what your steps should be whenever your RV propane detector alarm goes off. What different things could trigger this alarm, and when it is time to replace a faulty detector.

Why Does My RV Propane Detector Keep Going Off When It Shouldn’t?

Propane is a great, clean-burning source of energy that is less expensive than gas and better for the environment. However, because of its unique chemical makeup, propane is highly flammable.

Along with possibly causing an explosion, propane has also been known to cause suffocation or breathing issues.

Whenever your RV propane detector alarm sounds, you should take it very seriously. Even if you think it’s a false alarm. It’s the same as your smoke alarm going off at home. Sometimes it could simply be due to food burning in the kitchen.

However, you should always take it seriously until you determine the root of the problem.

The first thing you should keep in mind when your RV propane detector goes off is, you shouldn’t panic. It’s essential to take it seriously, but even if there is a leak, the best thing to do is to remain calm so you can take care of the situation with a level head.

The good news is there are several reasons why the alarm may be going off, and not all of them are serious. Therefore, if you don’t smell propane gas, you will need to do a little investigating to find the main reason for the problem.

The alarm could be reactive enough to sense leaking propane long before you smell it. Or it could be due to something else.

What You Should Do When Your Propane Detector Alarm Goes Off

When your propane alarm sounds, you will need to turn off the propane supply to your RV. Once you have done that, you should open all the windows and vacate the RV. Wait a while to see if the alarm ceases.

If so, this means there is likely a propane leak. Remember, a leak can be present even if you cannot detect the odor on your own.

If you do have a propane gas leak, there are two things you can do.

Contact a professional to locate the leak for you or attempt to locate the leak on your own. A professional will be able to identify the source of the problem quickly by using a gas detecting wand.

They can also easily repair the leak for you. If you choose to find the leak on your own, it may be less expensive, but it may take you longer to find the source.

It all depends on the amount of propane-dependent appliances you have in your RV.

Propane gas has been known to leak from stoves, refrigerators, heaters, or water heaters. It can leak from any appliance that uses propane for energy and may leak from any connector on your propane system. Another possible issue would include a break in any of the lines that transport propane to your appliances.

How to Find a Gas Leak Inside Your RV

If you plan to locate the propane gas leak on your own, here is a step-by-step process to help you find the source of the problem in the fastest and most efficient manner.

Remember, if you have any doubts about identifying or repairing a propane leak on your own, you should contact a professional for assistance.

  • Shut off the main propane supply to your RV.
  • Turn off all propane devices one by one. It is a good idea to write down a list of all propane-powered appliances you own so that you don’t forget one.
  • Allow your RV to air out by opening the doors and windows. Remember, propane gas is heavier than oxygen; therefore, it will begin to settle in low points, such as on the floor of your RV.
  • Once your RV no longer has a propane odor, and you are sure there are no propane pockets, you can begin the test. Remember, do not have an open flame nearby or light anything at this time.
  • Slowly open your main RV tank valve.
  • Using soapy water, brush the main propane tank valve and the fittings. If you start to see bubbles forming, you have found the source of the leak. If not, continue searching.
  • Check all the appliances on your RV and repeat the test using soapy water until all appliances inside your RV that use propane have been tested. If there is a leak, the test will reveal it.
  • After the leak is found and the issue is repaired, it is safe to re-light your appliances.

What if There is No Leak Detected?

If you have performed all the necessary tasks and cannot find a leak, your propane detector may have gone off for a different reason.

Here are a few additional reasons why your propane detector alarm may be triggered aside from a gas leak.

Chemicals in the Air

There are several chemicals, sprays, and household cleaners that could set off your propane detector. These products can include the following.

  • Carpet cleaners
  • Sunscreen sprays
  • Cooking sprays
  • Hair Spray
  • Febreze

While you may not always get an alarm when you use these products, these are just a few examples of what might set off your propane detector if it turns out you do not have a leak inside your RV.

A Dirty Detector

If your propane detector has not been cleaned recently, there is a good chance that dirt and debris build up in the vents could trigger the alarm. Dirty vents could lead to your detector’s sensor not functioning as it should. Therefore, you should take the time to thoroughly clean and maintain your detector to ensure optimal performance.

How to Maintain an RV Propane Detector

  • It’s essential to keep your RV propane detector clean and in good working order. To ensure there are no issues with false alarms, you should follow these steps to maintain your detector device.
  • Test the detector at least once a week while you are camping.
  • Clean the detector cover using your vacuum cleaner’s soft brush attachment. Doing so will help clear the vents of any dirt or dust.
  • Keep a close eye on the indicator light. It will remain solid green on most detectors, but be sure to refer to your instruction manual for more information on how your indicator light should appear.
  • Using a clean, moist paper towel or cloth, wipe down the front of the detector. Just remember not to leave it wet and use a soft, lint-free cloth to dry it off.

A Malfunctioning or Expired Detector

Sometimes you may get a false alarm simply because your detector is outdated or malfunctioning. You should replace propane detectors every five to seven years. Most models will have the expiration date printed on the front cover. If the detector is out of date or simply seems to malfunction, it is time to replace it.

Steps for Replacing Your Broken or Expired Propane Detector

Follow these steps to successfully replace your old RV propane detector with a newer model.

  • Turn off your circuit power that is attached to the detector. An easy way to do this is by removing the fuse from the power panel.
  • Next, remove the old propane detector. To do this, you will need to unscrew the faceplate, then cut the two wires that lead to the detector.
  • Strip the detector wires by carefully removing the shielding from the end of both wires. That makes it easier to attach the wires to the replacement detector.
  • Re-wire your new RV propane detector alarm. You will need to connect the cut wires to the leads from the new device to do this. Be careful to match the colors correctly. After that, use the connectors to establish a safe and secure connection.
  • Finally, attach the new detector to the wall by screwing it into place. You will want to test the new detector after turning the power on to ensure it is working correctly. To do this, you can simply hold down the test button until the alarm is activated.

The propane detector inside your RV can help save you and your travelling companions from a severe accident or injury.

You should always react to an alarm seriously, but keep in mind there are more things besides a gas leak that will trigger your propane detector. If you take the necessary steps outlined in this article to locate a leak and there is no leak to be found, you may have experienced a false alarm.

You shouldn’t have any issues if your detector is clean and still in date, but if you have any concerns, it would be in your best interest to replace your old detector with a brand-new one.

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