Has your RV propane stopped flowing, rendering your RV stove, hot water heater, refrigerator, and other appliances useless?
Before you go into panic mode, we’ll show you exactly how to troubleshoot this common issue and get your propane-powered appliances up and running in no time.
Let’s get right to it.
RV Propane Not Flowing: Troubleshooting Guide
When your RV propane stops flowing, it really boils down to 5 common causes that are easy to troubleshoot and fix.
Each of these common causes is directly related to a certain point in your RV propane system, including the:
- Propane tank valve
- Excess flow valve
- Propane pressure regulator
- Propane system hoses
- Propane detector
This diagram of an example RV propane system will help you understand where each point is within your propane system (denoted in red), which you can use as a guide to help resolve your issue.
RV Propane System Diagram
So, if your RV propane tank is full, but there’s no gas flowing, we can simply go down the following list of causes until we identify and resolve the issue.
Cause 1: RV Propane Valve
The first cause is the most obvious but needs to be mentioned. So, let’s check this one off the list.
Did you turn on the propane tank valve?
The stress of getting ready for a trip can make you do, and forget the craziest things.
Even if you’re pretty sure you turned the gas valve on, go double-check. If it is indeed on and your propane is still not flowing, continue on to the next cause.
Tip: If it is in the off position, be sure to slowly turn it on. You’ll learn why this is important in the next section.
Cause 2: RV Propane Excess Flow Valve
One of the safety features of propane tanks is the excess flow valve which will stop or slow the flow of gas in case of a leak.
In a propane tank, this is either a spring-loaded valve or ball which detects whether the gas inside is coming out too quickly. If it senses that this is happening, then it engages and stops the flow of gas.
So, what can set off the excess flow valve?
Opening the RV propane tank valve too quickly can cause it to sense a leak. In other words, it will register a higher volume of propane flowing from the tank than would normally be expected and engage in “emergency mode” as a result.
To troubleshoot the excess flow valve:
- Shut off the propane tank valve.
- Turn off all propane-powered appliances (RV fridge, stove, water heater, etc.).
- Wait a few minutes and turn the propane valve on very slowly.
What this does is slowly pressurize the RV propane system allowing a full flow of propane without engaging the excess flow valve.
Check out this quick video on how to properly open the LP valve on an RV propane tank.
Important: The excess flow valve could be engaged because of a leak. Ensure that there are no leaks in your RV propane system. If you don’t feel comfortable checking for and repairing propane leaks yourself, take your motorhome to a repair shop.
If you followed the above steps and the propane is still not flowing (and you’re sure there are no leaks), we can move on to the propane regulator.
Cause 3: RV Propane Regulator
An RV propane regulator regulates the pressure of the propane gas coming from the propane tank. In other words, high-pressure gas flowing from your tank will go through your regulator, which lowers it to the proper level to be used by your propane-powered appliances.
As you can see in the diagram above, the regulator sits between the RV’s propane tank and the rest of the system. This is the same whether you have two propane tanks, or just one.
Your RV’s propane regulator will have two stages:
- Stage one lowers the gas pressure from as high as 250 psi down to 10 to 15 psi.
- Stage two lowers the pressure to roughly 11 water column inches, perfect for your RV’s propane appliances.
When this two-stage regulator starts to go bad, you may notice:
- A yellow or orange flame instead of blue on your stovetop.
- An audible popping sound when you turn your propane stove burner on or off
- Soot accumulating around your burners.
- A hissing sound coming from your regulator.
A bad regulator can, and eventually will prevent propane from flowing through your RV’s propane system.
RV Propane regulators have a 10-15 year lifespan. So, if your pressure regulator is reaching that point, it’s time to swap it out for a new one. They are extremely easy to install and inexpensive. Check out our RV propane regulator guide to find the best option for your RV.
Tip: You could also try to reset your propane regulator, which technically you already did if you followed the troubleshooting steps for the excess flow valve. Shut off the propane tank valve, turn off any propane-powered appliances, wait a few minutes, then slowly turn the propane tank valve back on.
Once you’re certain the regulator is in good working order, let’s move onto the propane system’s hoses.
Cause 4: RV Propane System Hoses
The hose from the propane tank to the regulator can also cause the propane to stop flowing. In some cases, this hose will have a back check valve that can get stuck, thus restricting the propane flow.
If this is the case, simply replacing this propane hose is easy and fairly inexpensive.
Cause 5: RV Propane Detector
Some campers come equipped with a propane detector that will automatically shut off the propane supply if it detects a leak.
This is a great feature to have. But if power is cut to the propane detector (or the solenoid that controls the propane supply), the propane will not be able to flow.
This is usually due to a dead battery or faulty wiring. So, check your battery and check to make sure power is going to the detector and solenoid. You should frequently test your RV propane detector to ensure it’s in good working condition.
Tip: Once your propane has started flowing again, you may need to purge your RV propane lines to get your appliances to work correctly.
RV Propane Flow: Quick Troubleshooting Chart
This chart will help you quickly and easily understand the most common issues regarding your RV’s propane system with the recommended solution. Feel free to pin and share this image!