Don’t Let This Happen To Your RV! Check Your Propane Detector!

TheRVgeeks Maintenance, Propane 26 Comments

Mismanaging propane can be an explosive mistake. Don’t let this crucial, but often-overlooked, maintenance item cause your RV trip to go up in flames!

We’re doing something a little different this week. By necessity, our videos are usually edited to a reasonable length. If they weren’t, you’d be hanging around with us for hours on some of our more involved projects. Today, we’re taking advantage of both the importance of the topic, and the speed and ease with which it can be completed, to bring you our first real-time DIY video.

In the actual time it takes to do the job of replacing our outdated propane detector (did you know that they MUST be replaced at certain time intervals?!) we shoot an entire video, almost completely unedited. This will show how quickly and easily this important job can be done.

If your propane detector has been “out of sight, out of mind” let this be a reminder to check it, so you don’t end up like the RV in the video! 😉


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Comments 26

  1. Do you Geeks have a process for checking the propane rubber tubing? Do you check for cracks and splits? Do you check for swelling? I know it’s low pressure propane, but chemicals, ozone, age can make some real problems. Appreciate your work and recommend your Youtube channel to other newbies.

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      Hi Jay. You’re right, the problems caused by leaking propane can, indeed, be serious. We don’t have a “process” for this, but do indeed regularly inspect our propane hoses, looking for aging, cracking, swelling, etc. We also use a mixture of water & dish soap that we pour onto all of the fittings to look for leaks (active bubbling). Also, as a precaution, whenever we’re away from the RV for any extended time, we turn the propane off at the tank to avoid there being a leak that we weren’t around to detect.

  2. As usual a very informational video. I vaguely remember a LP gas detector behind the passenger seat on our 2001 Dutch Star coach. After watching your video and the ease to replace the detector, I went out and checked our coach. Unscrewed the detector and lo and behold the mfg. date is 2000 (really, that old!!). I believe it’s time to R&R the unit. Also checked for 12vdc and no voltage! Do you happen to know where the fuse for the detector is located? I checked the DC panel in the bedroom and there is no mention of an LP detector. Just ordered one from your link to amazon. One other question I have is if the new unit alarm is as loud as the old detector?

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      Hi Rodney, thanks! We’re glad that this video spurred you to check your propane detector! A 2000-era unit clearly needs to be replaced. There are two places that you can look to see what’s causing the trouble with the lack of voltage at the detector. First is in your control panel… where the water pump, water heater, and other switches are. Look for one labelled “LP” (ours is right next to our step switch). With that switch turned on (up on our panel, and there’s some red showing on that part of the switch that’s exposed), you should have 12V at the detector. Try toggling it to both positions and test for power each time. If that doesn’t do it, our fuse is in a small panel of fuses in our electrical bay. At the back of the bay you may have a small plastic panel that’s velcroed in place that hides them. It’s where the large solenoid is for our coach battery disconnect and “boost” switch are. There’s a small block of fuses… ours is #F5 for the “Carbon/LP Detector”. Here’s the page from our year’s schematics that might give you a hint where to look on yours: 2005 Diesel Pusher Rear Electrical Schematic

      1. Boy you guys are good! Found the switch up on the control panel next to TV booster switch. Thanks for the info and diagram. Tried switch and we have lift off, err power. Below the switch is a label that says to turn off switch only when unit is in storage. Thinking back over many years I don’t remember ever using the LP switch after removing the TV booster and front TV. I installed a TV lift cabinet just to the right of the detector. Thanks again for the helpful information and jogging the memory to turn the detector on when traveling.

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  3. Thanks for another great video demonstration. Anytime I have time sensitive equipment I write the date installed somewhere on the equipment AND in the RV binder that has all the equipment listed. I also put a reminder in my phone calendar.

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      Thanks for the kind words, Joel. And for the good tip! Excellent idea to write the pertinent information on the equipment itself, as well as keep track of it in your maintenance records!

  4. Thanks for the video. We have had our 03 Dutch Star for 7 years and I don’t think the previous owners changed the propane detector. The video has given me the confidence to think I can do it myself. I will be ordering one straight away.

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      We’re sure you can handle it, Terry! If you want to be sure about the age of your propane detector (before you order a replacement), you can remove it and check the back of it… it likely has a label on it that tells you the date of manufacture. And since you have a similar era Newmar to ours, check your control panel up front (where the water pump switch, etc are) and see if you have an “LP Detector” switch… if you do, turn it off while replacing your detector so you don’t have to worry about shorting the wires (we didn’t mention it in the video because most RVs don’t have a switch like that). If your DSDP doesn’t have that switch, just be sure when cutting the wires to do them one at a time (doing them both simultaneously can short them, which could blow the fuse) and make sure you don’t touch them together (again, that will short them and will likely blow the fuse).

  5. Quality tools!! Vice Grip!!! Do not try to skimp and rely on Harbor Freight tools all the time.

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  6. Thanks for the info. Our’s is a ’14 DutchStar 4360 probably manufactured in ’13. Heading out right now to see if there is a replacement date on the back of the detector. Depending on the cost difference, I may follow Jerry’s suggestion and get a combo unit.

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      Sure thing, Sam. We would have considered upgrading ours to a combo LPG/CO detector, too… but we already have combo Smoke/Carbon Monoxide detectors in the bedroom and right aboe the propane detector in the living room, so it wasn’t necessary. If the price difference on the LPG/CO unit is high enough, you may want to look at replacing your smoke detector with a combo. Particularly in the bedroom, since carbon monoxide poisoning makes you sleepy… and if you’re already asleep, you’d want to be alerted!!

      And, as there’s some confusion about this: propane is heavier than air, which is why the detectors are mounted low. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is NOT heavier than air. It distributes evenly in a room, so a carbon monoxide detector can be placed anywhere… which is why you see both LPG/CO combos AND smoke detector/CO units.

    2. Hi again,
      My LPG detector was made June, 2013, so think I will ride with it for another season. Find I have a combo Smoke/CO detector over the bed with another five years on it, and will replace the simple Smoke detector up front with a matching combo KIDDE P3010CU Smoke/CO detector.
      Unrelated rabbit trail: Want to replace all interior and basement lights with LEDs, and there are a bunch out there. Do you have any recommendations for a reputable supplier and a reliable product. I bought a bunch for our previous coach, and not a one of them lasted a full year.
      Again, thanks for a wonderful insightful site,
      Sam

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        Hi Sam! This is the easiest question we could ever answer! Many years ago we found M4 Products, makers of the best LED bulbs on the market. You can check out our extensive playlist of videos we’ve done about LEDs over the years, including replacing our basement lights, here. M4 offers a 5% discount to our viewers on your entire order. Just use coupon code RVGEEKS5 when you order from their website.

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  7. Does your propane detection system have the ability to shut the propane off at the propane tank when the sensor detects a propane leak? I understand that some systems have this safety feature and I’m wondering if those systems are as easy to upgrade as what your video shows. Thanks!

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  8. Terrific safety tip. Here’s just a little tip…When cutting off the screw connectors, be sure not to cut both at the same time…it will short the circuit and trip the fuse! You’ll probably not realize it and wonder why your new device fails to power up.

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  9. I actually changed mine out not because it was too old, but because I wanted to upgrade from the standard propane detector to a combo propane and CO detector. Both gasses can be deadly and should be monitored in an RV. The combo unit was more expensive than the propane only version, but I felt it well worth the cost. In my case I did have to enlarge the wall opening slightly for the new unit to fit.

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      Thanks for the additional info, Jerry! Because the detectors on our ceiling are combination smoke/CO, I always think of CO as being lighter than air. But it’s actually so close to air (just SLIGHTLY lighter) that it distributes itself evenly enough in a space that a CO detector can be mounted almost anywhere from 6″ above the floor all the way up to the ceiling. Since it’s such an insidious gas, it sounds like a perfectly good idea to have it included in both the propane and smoke detectors. Thanks again.

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