RV Propane Detector Keeps Going off? Do This!

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Your RV propane detector keeps going off, but you don’t smell propane.

What is causing this alert? And how should you react? More importantly, is it dangerous?

Whenever your propane gas detector goes off, it should be taken very seriously, even if you’re convinced it’s a false alarm.

So, let’s learn what you should do when your RV propane detector keeps going off, the different things that will cause a false alarm, and when it’s time, how to replace your detector.

Why Does My RV Propane Detector Keep Going Off?

If your RV’s propane detector goes off, first of all, don’t panic. You do need to take it seriously, but many reasons could cause the detector to start beeping.

Related: RV Carbon Monoxide Detector Keeps Going Off? Do This!

You’ll want to investigate further and examine the reason behind the problem. After all, detectors are there to alarm you in case of emergencies. And they are reactive enough to identify leaking propane even before you smell it.

So when the propane alarm starts beeping, you’ll want to:

  1. Turn off the propane supply to your RV immediately.
  2. Once that’s done, open all the windows and vacate the RV.
  3. Wait for some time to see if the alarm ceases. If it does, this means there’s likely a propane leak.

If there’s a leak, you have two options – call a professional to come to find the leak and fix it, or find the leak yourself.

A professional will be able to identify the source of the leak using a gas-detecting wand and should be able to repair the leak quickly.

The other option is to find and repair the leak yourself. This option might be more cost-effective, but it can take time, depending on how many propane-powered appliances you have in your RV.

Propane gas can leak from heaters, stoves, refrigerators, or water heaters – basically, from any appliance that runs on propane for energy. It can leak from any connector on the propane system or any break in the lines that feed propane to these appliances.

To find a gas leak in your RV, perform the following steps in order:

  1. If you haven’t already, shut off the main propane supply to your RV immediately.
  2. Then turn off every propane device individually. It’s a good idea to make a list of these devices so you don’t forget one.
  3. Allow your RV to air out. And remember, propane is heavier than air, so it will settle in the low points (along the floor, etc.) of your recreational vehicle.
  4. Once there is no smell of propane (even in the low points), and you are confident that there are no propane pockets, you can start the test. Reminder: Do not light anything or have any open flame sources nearby.
  5. Slowly open the main RV tank valve.
  6. Brush soapy water (water and dish soap mix) on the main propane tank valve and fittings. If you notice bubbles forming, you have found the leak! If not, continue on…
  7. We then need to check the appliances in the RV. Repeat the soapy water test in the last step until all appliances have been tested. If there’s a leak, it will reveal itself.
  8. Once the leak is found and fixed, you can re-light your appliances.

Important: If you have any doubts whatsoever about identifying and fixing the propane leak in your RV, it’s best to call a professional

But what if there is no leak? Apart from propane gas, other things can set off your propane detector.

What Else Can Set Off Propane Detectors?

If there’s no leak in your propane system, there are other reasons your detector may be going off.


Listed below are some chemicals, household supplies, etc., that can set off propane detectors:

  • Febreeze
  • Hair spray
  • Cooking sprays
  • Sunscreen sprays
  • Carpet cleaning chemicals
  • Human and dog farts (seriously)

Not every cooking spray or sunscreen spray may contribute here, but some can set it off. What’s important here is if your propane detector regularly goes off, make a mental note of any chemicals, sprays, and so on that may have been used prior to the alarm sounding.

Dirty Detector

Dirt, dust, and debris can collect in the vents of your propane detector and cause the sensor to not perform optimally. Be sure to regularly clean and maintain your LP detector for the best performance.

How to Maintain the Propane Detector

Similar to keeping your RV furnace and other appliances clean and in good working condition, it is important to carry out routine cleaning of your propane detectors. You should also ensure your carbon monoxide detector is working.

Make sure to follow this care routine at least once a week:

  • Test the detector once a week while camping. Check out our guide on how to test an RV propane detector for the step-by-step process with troubleshooting tips.
  • Clean your detector cover with a vacuum cleaner. Make sure to use the soft brush attachment.
  • Keep an eye on the indicator light. On most models, it should be solid green (refer to your owner’s manual for indicator light information).
  • Use a clean, moist cloth or paper towel to wipe the front part of the detector. Don’t leave it wet. Use a lint-free soft cloth to dry it later.

As mentioned above, other chemicals can contribute to setting off the propane detector, so it is best to avoid using such chemicals or solvents directly on or near the propane detector. This will avoid unnecessary false alarms.

Expired or Malfunctioning Detector

Sometimes, the detector is simply old and/or malfunctioning. Keep in mind propane detectors should be replaced every 5 to 7 years. The expiration date is mentioned on the front of most LP leak detectors. If the detector has expired, there is no expiration date stamped on the unit, or it simply seems to be malfunctioning (continually beeps for no reason, etc.), then it’s time to replace it.

One of the most popular and reliable models of propane gas detectors is the Safe-T-Alert by MTI Industries. I highly recommend the Safe-T-Alert 20-441-P Propane Gas Detector.

Safe-T-Alert 20-441-P Propane Gas Detector

Safe-T-Alert 20-441-P Propane Gas Detector

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Alternatively, you can also consider buying a Dual Detector that has the feature of detecting both propane as well as carbon monoxide.

Safe-T-Alert by MTI Industries 35-742-BR 35 Series Dual LP/CO Alarm

Safe-T-Alert by MTI Industries 35-742-BR 35 Series Dual LP/CO Alarm

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How to Replace the RV Propane Detector

Once you’ve purchased a new RV propane detector, replacing the old unit is quick and easy, and you’ll be able to do it yourself.

Follow these steps to replace your RV propane detector:

1. Turn Off the Circuit Power

Turn off the power to the circuit attached to the detector. This can be done by simply removing the fuse from the power panel.

2. Remove the Old Propane Detector

Now, remove the old detector. To do this, unscrew the faceplate first. Next, cut the two wires that lead to the detector.

3. Strip Detector Wires

Carefully remove some shielding from the end of both these cut wires so we can attach them to the new detector.

4. Re-wire Your New Alarm

It’s time to re-wire. Do this by connecting the cut wires to the leads from the new alarm. Be careful here and match the colors correctly. Now, use the connectors to enable a secure connection.

One recommended connector is nylon crimp connectors, which work best for DC wiring. Keep them handy for your future RV wiring projects.

Nylon Crimp Connector Kit

Nylon Crimp Connector Kit

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5. Attach New Detector to Wall

After re-wiring, screw your new propane detector back in place, just like the old detector.

6. Test the Detector

This is the last step. Once you have replaced the detector, turn on the power to test if the detector is working properly. For this, you don’t need to actually leak the propane by turning on your appliances. You can simply test it by pressing the “test” button on the detector.

1 thought on “RV Propane Detector Keeps Going off? Do This!”

  1. Does anyone have as answer for my issue with lp detector? Camper has been parked for weeks with gas off. Only goes into alarm when not plugged into power. I have replaced the batteries and detector. No new chemicals stored. Thanks.


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