While the RV industry has done a lot to ensure high standards regarding propane safety, propane can cause disaster if mishandled or used improperly. When propane leaks from one of the lines inside an RV, it can build up until a source of ignition (match, cigarette, spark, pilot light, etc.) causes it to explode.
Handling Propane Safely On Your RV
“Better safe than sorry.”
“You should have your motor home, travel trailer or fifth-wheel propane system inspected each year by an RV dealer or by a Railroad Commission-licensed propane gas supplier. A technician will check the system for leaks and for proper regulator settings, inspect the valves and fittings and certify that tanks are free from rust and dents. Any damaged equipment should be replaced immediately.
You should also inspect the various propane-operated appliances in your RV, including your refrigerator, stove, furnace, lanterns and other devices. Be sure that the supply lines connecting these appliances to propane tanks are the correct length and properly installed, with no supply lines rubbing against sharp edges or corners.
Properly install a Propane Leak Detector based on manufacturer instructions and check it each time you use of your RV. If you suspect your RV’s propane detector isn’t working properly, replace it with a new one immediately.
When Full Is Too Full
One of the most common hazards with propane is overfilled tanks. Fortunately, all small propane cylinders (up to 40-lb. capacity) manufactured after September 1998 are equipped with an overfilling protection device (OPD).
Propane tanks equipped with an OPD are designed to be filled only to a certain level, which allows the fuel to expand into the vapor space as the temperature rises. Tanks filled beyond this level may leak excess pressure through the tank’s relief valve and into the surrounding air. Or, propane liquid could enter the piping system, resulting in higher than normal pressure to appliances. Both scenarios present a hazard.
If you have an old cylinder, an OPD must be installed. Cylinders without OPDs can no longer be refilled.
When refilling on-board propane cylinders, turn off the RV engine, all appliances, and electronic re-igniters. Make sure no one is in the RV during refueling.
What to Do If You Suspect A Leak
If you smell gas, exit your RV immediately. Don’t use electric switches or appliances. Leave the door open to air out the rig. Close the supply valve on the propane tank, and call a propane gas supplier or the fire department.
Proper Identification and Installation
Propane tanks installed in hard-to-see places must be identified by the letters “LPG” in one-inch high or larger letters. The letters must be placed in a visible spot as near the tank as possible.
Propane used with RVs is stored in one of two types of containers: DOT cylinders or ASME tanks. DOT cylinders are typically used on trailers and truck campers and must be installed vertically, while ASME tanks are used on motor homes and must be installed horizontally.
Always have your tanks refilled instead of trading in empty tanks. This ensures you know where your tank has been and how it’s been treated.
This article was contributed by the Foremost Insurance Group of Companies, based in Grand Rapids, MI. Foremost has been a national leader in specialty insurance products for more than 50 years. Recreational vehicle insurance is a Foremost specialty.
More RV Safety Articles
Is your RV overloaded?
Did you know that driving or towing an overloaded rig is a leading cause of RV accidents? Even a slight overload or unequal weight distribution can seriously restrict braking and steering, dramatically increase fuel consumption, and cause sudden blowouts or breakdowns. An overweight RV also creates the danger of early failure in your rig’s tires, brakes, wheels, drive train and other components. Learn more about proper RV loading.
RV generator safety precautions
Please read your generator Operator’s Manual carefully so you understand all the precautions for safe, efficient operation. Most accidents occur from failing to follow fundamental safety rules. Read about generator safety.
A safe campground for everyone.
Camping is a fun time for the whole family. It is a time to leave all of your troubles behind and reconnect with family and friends. Campfires, roasting marshmallows and sing-a-longs are the memories you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. That’s why it is essential to make your campsite a safe place for everyone. Learn more about campground safety.
RV travel safety tips
Traveling safely is important to everyone who takes to the road with an motor home. Before you set out on your next trip, take a few minutes to review our tips for a safe, trouble-free journey. Review our checklist for RV safety.