How to Test an RV Propane Detector (Important)

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Your RV propane detector is one of the most important pieces of equipment in your vehicle. It can mean a difference between life and death.

So, you must regularly test it to ensure it’s in working order.

Below we show you how to test an RV propane detector, how to properly care for it, how to troubleshoot any issues that arise, and much more!

Important: This is meant to be a general guide to propane detector testing and care. Keep in mind every RV propane detector is different. We can’t stress enough how important it is to read the owner’s manual for your specific detector.

How to Test RV Propane Detector Step-by-Step

  1. First, check the date on the alarm. Most propane detectors will have an expiration date stamped on the alarm itself. If the date has expired, then replace your detector.
  2. Turn the detector on. The detector should signal that the power is on and it’s functioning. This will vary by brand. For example, the MTI Industries Safe-T-Alert propane detector may display a flashing green light for up to 2 minutes after turning it on.
  3. Test the electronics of the detector. Most propane detector models have a “Test” button that you can press to ensure the unit is functioning correctly. This is typically located on the front of the alarm. Press and hold the “test” button for 1 second and look for an indicator light or sound that signifies the unit is working properly. Again, this will vary by model. The MTI Safe-T-Alert detector, for example, is working properly if the green indicator light changes to RED.
  4. Test the Propane Gas sensor (if applicable). On some propane detector models, you may have to use Propane or Butane Gas to test the gas sensor. For other models, you may not have to, as the “Test” feature in step 3 will check the full operation of the detector. Check the owner’s manual to see if this step is necessary.

Important: If the detector does not test properly, replace it immediately.

How Often Should I Test My RV Propane Detector?

You should test your RV propane detector after the vehicle has been in storage for an extended time, before each camping trip, and I recommend at least once every week while using your RV.

When Should I Replace My RV Propane Detector?

In general, propane gas detectors should be replaced every 5-7 years. That said, your LP detector should have an expiration date stamped somewhere on the unit. When in doubt, check the date. If there is no date or it’s hard to read, I recommend replacing the unit.

How to Care for Your RV Propane Detector

To keep your propane detector in good working order, follow these tips:

  • Test the detector once a week.
  • Visually check the detector regularly to ensure the indicator light is the correct color.
  • Clean and vacuum the detector cover weekly. Use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum to remove any dust, and hand wash using a damp cloth or paper towel.
  • Do NOT clean with any detergents, solvents, or waxes. These chemicals may permanently damage the sensor.
  • Do not paint your propane detector, as the paint can seal off the vents and interfere with the sensor.
  • Do not spray any aerosols near the detector.

How Do You Reset an RV Propane Alarm?

Depending on the model of the detector, you would press the Test/Reset or the Test/Mute button, for example. Typically, what this does is silence the audible alarm. If there’s still gas present, then the indicator LED, typically red, will remain on until the gas clears. Once the gas has cleared, the light should turn green.

Your detector model may operate differently, so it’s important to check the owner’s manual for reset instructions.

Why Does My RV Propane Detector Keep Going Off?

First and most importantly, be absolutely sure there are no leaks in the propane system! Ignoring the alarm because you think it’s a false positive can be a deadly mistake.

With that said, if your system checks out and there are no propane leaks, then there are a few other reasons it could be going off.

Other Chemicals Setting It off

There are other common chemicals and household supplies that can set your propane detector off, including:

  • Aerosol sprays, including hairspray, cooking sprays, etc.
  • Febreze
  • Farts (both human and dog farts have been known to set off a propane detector)
  • Certain carpet cleaning chemicals

Expired Detector

An expired detector can start acting wonky and go off when it shouldn’t. Be sure the date stamped on the detector hasn’t expired. If it’s expired or there is no date, replace the unit immediately. And remember, the average RV propane detector lifespan is 5-7 years.

Dirty Detector

Dirt and dust can get in the vents and block or cause damage to the sensors. Be sure to properly clean and test your LP gas leak detector at least once a week.

Check out our guide titled RV Propane Detector Keeps Going Off? Do This! for more tips to troubleshoot why your detector keeps beeping.

Can a Fart Set off a Propane Detector?

Yes, some farts may contain enough methane to set off a propane detector. If you need more proof, you can watch this video putting it to the test (at your own peril)!

RV Propane Gas Detector Troubleshooting

If you’re having an issue with your propane detector, check out the chart below for some general problems and solutions. You may have to refer to your propane detector’s owner’s manual for model-specific troubleshooting.

Indicator light offBad electrical power connection, a bad fuse, or a dead battery in the unit.
No light or sound when testingDefective unit. Replace immediately.
Alarm sounds after warm-up (no gas present)A possibly contaminated sensor. Clean the unit and press the “Test” button.

Alarm continually goes off (and reset doesn’t work)
Defective unit. Replace immediately.
Alarm is continually beeping (typically every 20 to 30 seconds)Alarm has reached the end of life. Replace immediately.

2 thoughts on “How to Test an RV Propane Detector (Important)”

  1. Thank you for the info.
    My new propane leak detector test works properly.
    My question is … so the test works fine. But how do I know it will actually detect a leak in the middle of the night?

    • As long as you test it regularly, properly maintain it, and replace it when needed, it *should* work as intended and alert you if there’s a leak in the middle of the night. Nothings a 100% guarantee but it’s pretty close. Depending on your model, you could test it with gas to make sure it’s actually detecting it, but my MTI gas alarm says specifically not to do that.


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