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Old 09-01-2014, 02:28 PM   #1
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Important - Check Your Propane Connections For Leaks

Over the last year or so I've noticed a slight propane smell every time I removed the propane tank cover. I never really worried about it because it was so slight. Yesterday I decided to test the connections with some watered down dish detergent.

I found that both of the propane pigtails (the hoses that connect at one end to the regulator, the other end connects to the tank fitting) were leaking, one more than the other.

The leaks were at the point where the regulator end fitting was clamped onto the hose. Both hoses had become very hard and stiff in the four years since I bought the TT new. They should be flexible.

I ordered a new pigtail, and did what I could today to temporarily repair the leaks. I used a hose clamp on one hose connection, but since the hose has hardened so much it was difficult. I finally stopped that leak. I removed the other hose completely from the regulator fitting and sealed that side completely off.

The original pigtails are only 8 or 10 inches long. I decided to go with a single 20" pigtail that I can move from tank to tank when changing out an empty. I ordered it on the Walmart.com website for ~$11.00, and it will be delivered to the local store in a week or so for pickup - with free shipping.

I don't think the small leaks were any major safety issue, since propane is heavier than air, and would filter down through the bottom of the tank cover, but you never know. The small leaks could become big leaks over time. And I really hated the idea of wasting perfectly good propane.

I figure since BOTH of mine were leaking, there's a good chance that the pigtails on many other RVs are leaking too. It's easy to check. Just dilute dish detergent with an equal amount of water, and dribble it over all the fittings. If it's leaking, you'll see foamy bubbles appear. And check to see if the hoses have hardened up. If so, that means they have degraded over time.

If they need replaced (I would replace both if just one is bad, as a preventative), clean up the female threads on the regulator fitting, and wrap some teflon tape around the male threads before connecting.

It's a nice little project for relieving boredom, at the very least.
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Old 09-01-2014, 02:40 PM   #2
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I`ve noticed a slight propane smell when lifting my cover as well. Will have to check this out as my trailer is approaching 5 years old next month.
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Old 09-01-2014, 02:53 PM   #3
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From the Jayco 2011 Owner Manual-

Quote:
Although both Jayco and your selling dealer
test carefully for leakage, travel vibrations can
loosen fittings. Continued maintenance is
necessary for safe operation. The propane
system should be checked every 30 days of
RV use or 5,000 miles of travel (or at least
once a year) as part of your normal
maintenance. The propane system testing
should only be performed by your dealer or a
qualified propane service technician.
Even though it says testing should be done by dealer or service tech, on the next page the manual tells how to check for leaks -

Quote:
Use an appropriate propane leak detector
solution or create a soapy water solution. The
propane leak detector solution can be
purchased at most dealerships (if soapy water
is used, make sure that the soap used does
not contain ammonia or chlorine). Apply the
propane leak detector solution to all propane
piping connections. If a leak is present, the
solution will bubble at the connections.
I guess I never read that part of the manual- 4 years and 40K miles of use, and today was the first time I tested for leaks. Better late than never.

Now I'm tempted to crawl under the TT and check every connection outside, and every connection inside too. The part about road vibration causing loosening of connections makes sense.
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Old 09-01-2014, 03:08 PM   #4
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I`m so glad they do not recommend using the match/lighter method for leak testing. lol.
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Old 09-01-2014, 03:11 PM   #5
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Good tip, Bill. This is an easy check/easy fix that we all may want to consider doing, smell or not. I will be checking mine this week.
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Old 09-01-2014, 03:59 PM   #6
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It will be interesting to find out just how many minor propane leaks there are out there. Hope a lot of JOF people test for leaks and report their findings here, good or bad.
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Old 09-01-2014, 05:29 PM   #7
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My rig is new and will get under there as well...
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Old 09-01-2014, 05:43 PM   #8
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Timely Bill, ours is 4 years old as well.
Thanks.
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Old 09-01-2014, 05:43 PM   #9
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Just had the tanks off to fill them yesterday and didn't think to check for leaks when I put everything back together. I did find a couple of potential chaffing spots and took care of them...

Thanks for the tip!
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Old 09-01-2014, 05:52 PM   #10
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A leaky pigtail is one of the only warranty claims I've had. I opened up the flap and I could actually hear the leak. I had the one replaced, but I still need to replace the other. It's on the backup tank, and the new pigtail is long enough to reach if it ends up being bad, so it's not the end of the world.

Also note, you should use yellow tape for gas fittings, not the standard white Teflon tape that you would use on water fittings.
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