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Safety should be of top concern when you are traveling in an RV, but what should you do if a propane detector seems to go off for no reason?

Before you hit the road on any trip in your RV, you have likely checked all of your safety equipment, including your propane leak detector. The first time it goes off, you have done through the checklist and determined there is no actual leak. So what should you do if the beeping persists for seemingly no reason?

If your RV propane detector continues to go off, you should:

  • Go through a propane leak checklist to ensure there is no actual leak.
  • Check the unit's expiration date and look for faulty wiring.
  • Press the “test/reset” button.
  • If all else fails, buy a new unit and have a repair technician install it.

To fully understand why your RV propane detector might be going off for no reason, you should first know its central purpose, how to detect an actual leak, and how to repair it. Then, if you are satisfied that there is no actual leak and the propane detector just likes to interrupt a good night's sleep for no reason, we’ll tell you what other things can cause the alarm to go off and how to reset it.

We’ve consulted with RV owners and repair specialists to give you the ultimate guide to propane detector beeping.



What Should I Do If My RV Propane Detector Won’t Stop Going Off

It’s the midnight wake-up call that keeps happening; a propane detector won’t stop going off. You’ve turned off the propane, your RV windows are open to the breeze, and there is no sign of odor. So what could be causing this?

Why Do I Need an RV Propane Detector

Before we get to why an RV propane detector can go off without reason, we should discuss what you need. The primary reason you need this safety device is to protect you and your RV guests from experiencing gas poisoning.

Propane leaks can cause both asphyxiation and can be potentially explosive.

A faulty propane gas line can lead to gas leaking into the RV interior spaces. When gas comes into an enclosed space, it can displace oxygen in the air and cause symptoms such as:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Clumsiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Collapse
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Potential death

While experiencing a propane leak is infrequent, you don’t want to risk a potentially deadly situation.

How To Know If You Have A Propane Leak In Your RV

While a faulty or sensitive propane detector is annoying, you should know how to detect an authentic leak.

  1. Smell. The easiest way to detect is through your senses. A true leak smells like rotten eggs.
  2. The bubble check. Look for leaks in propane lines by spraying soapy water along the lines and all connections. A leak will cause the solution to bubble.
  3. Use a manometer. A dial manometer is one of the most effective ways to diagnose a potential leak. A leak will show lower than the usual 10 PSI pressure, possibly dropping down to zero.
  4. You’re running out of propane quickly. Keeping an eye on use is also a general way of knowing when you might have a leak. If you are burning through more propane than usual, it is time to do one of the above checks.
  5. The alarm is going off. Not all alarms are faulty, and if the propane detector continues to go off, it’s time to do one of the above checks.

How To Repair a Propane Leak In Your RV

The most common place that people experience propane leaks is with valves that are not properly sealed. In addition, if valve connections become rusty or corroded over time this may cause the seals to be compromised.

If you have determined that you have a leak in your propane lines or connections, you’ll need to fix it as soon as possible before it leads to an explosive or silent but deadly situation. The first rule of fixing a leak is: don’t try to do it yourself. Leave the space and call an experienced technician.

To repair a leak in your RV propane system:

  1. Turn off all propane units.
  2. Turn off all appliances that use propane.
  3. Ventilate interior areas.
  4. Call a qualified repair technician.

Why Does My Propane Detector Keep Beeping

Now that we’ve covered the purpose of the RV propane detector and how to detect a true leak, we can discuss why propane alarms sometimes go off without cause. If you have done all the checks and your propane tank is off, then you might have a beeping detector that needs to be fixed.

What Can Set Off A Propane Detector

There are many other things besides propane that can set off your RV propane detector. This includes everyday household items like:

  • Febreeze
  • Cooking sprays.
  • Hairsprays
  • Sunscreen
  • Carpet cleaning chemicals
  • Human and animal farts (really)

Additionally, simple maintenance might be required. Your detector has sensors that can be set off by dirt, dust, and debris. Regular cleaning of the propane detector vents can prevent this.

Lastly, the detector could be simply old and malfunctioning. A propane detector generally has a lifespan of 5-7 years and should have an expiration date on the unit. If the detector seems to be going off without reason and it is in this timeframe, it might be time to replace it.

How To Reset Your Propane Detector

If your propane detector has gone off and you have confidently determined it is not from a leak you will need to reset it. To reset your sensor:

  1. Check for a “test/reset” button on the unit and press it.
  2. Check for faulty wires.

Faulty wires or loose connections are one of the main causes for your propane detector to chirp at you for no explicable reason.

Prevention Is The Best Protection

The best protection is to regularly inspect all safety items in your RV including generators, CO2 alarms, fire alarms, and of course, your propane leak detector.

Best maintenance practices for propane leak detectors include:

  • Checking for actual leaks regularly and not waiting for the alarm to alert you.
  • Making sure your detectors are not expired.
  • Checking for faulty wiring on a regular basis.
  • Replace backup batteries regularly.
  • Press the “test” button regularly to make sure your unit is in working order.

What Are The Best Propane Detectors For RVs

There are several types of purpose-built detectors for RVs.

The Single Use Wall Mounted

This type of propane detector is mounted on the wall with concealed wiring and is also referred to as a “12V RV Propane detector”.

The Plug & Play

As the name indicates, this unit is easy to simply plug into a power bank, making it versatile and movable.

The Battery Operated Unit

This is the most versatile version of a propane detector as it can be used even when the primary and backup power goes out. You can also carry it along and use it in multiple locations.