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7 Signs That Your RV Propane Regulator Has Gone Bad

Where Is the Regulator on My RV?

The RV propane regulator is going to be near your propane tank or tanks. The regulator needs to be next to the propane tanks because the first stage of the regulator needs to control the pressure right out of the tank itself in order to properly work.

For more information on how RV propane regulators work check out this post here.

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The RV propane regulator is the heart of any LP gas system and if it isn’t working properly you will start to notice problems with your propane appliances, especially the stove. The stove is a great way to troubleshoot your RV propane regulator and a lot of these signs can be seen from a burner. I recently had to change out a bad propane regulator on my travel trailer. And during the process, I learned a lot about regulators and how they function.

If you need to change out your RV propane regulator check out this post for information on how to install the new one and what you will need.

7 Common Signs of a Bad RV Propane Regulator

1. Yellow Flames

The flame on any of your propane appliances should be a strong blue. It’s easy to see if you have lazy yellow flames by lighting one of the burners on your RV stove. The flames should be blue and almost level with the burner. If they are yellow you don’t have enough pressure in your LP gas system. If they are blue but making a roaring sound and very tall then you have too much pressure.

It’s rare that an RV propane regulator requires adjusting and you either have a leak in your propane system or the regulator needs replacing.

2. Popping Noises

If you hear popping noises when you turn off the flames on your RV stoves burner then your propane regulator may be having issues. This was an issue I was having. All of the burners were popping when I turned them off. After replacing the regulator the popping issue was solved.

Popping noises can also be a sign of a damaged burner. If it’s happening on one burner but not the others examine the problematic burner. It may be dirty or askew.

3. Heavy Soot Deposits

Propane is a fairly clean-burning gas, it doesn’t normally have dark smoke, like wood fires, and a healthy propane flame shouldn’t put off hardly any soot. If you are starting to notice dark black marks forming around your water heater or even in your RV kitchen by the stove you either have something in the burner that is causing soot or you have a weak flame that is not burning cleanly.

You can adjust the flame strength on a water heater and that may be an easy solution to the problem. But if the heavy soot continues you may have a bad RV propane regulator.

4. Venting or Leaking Regulator

If a propane smell is coming from your RV propane regulator it may be damaged and not sealing properly. You can test for leaks by using a dish soap water mixture. Dump or spray it over the regulator and look carefully for bubbles. If you see bubbles starting to form that is where the leak is.

There is a vent located on the bottom of all propane regulators. The vent helps the regulator breathe while it is being used and is also a safety feature in case the propane tank is overfilled and the pressure is getting too high. If you notice propane coming from the vent make sure you don’t have an overfilled propane tank. If the tank isn’t the problem then the regulator has gone bad and needs replacing.

5. No Propane Flow

It may seem obvious but if no propane is flowing through the regulator that’s a problem. A common cause may a safety feature that is inside the regulator. If the regulator detects a high propane flow it will engage the safety valve and shut off this same feature is found on propane tanks. You can reset the propane regulator by turning off the propane tanks and making sure all your propane appliances are shut off. The regulator should reset after a few minutes.

If that doesn’t solve the problem your RV propane regulator isn’t functioning correctly and probably needs replacing.

6. Age

Propane regulators aren’t made to last forever. They have a life of about 10 years and a regulator can give out simply because it’s too old. If the age of your regulator is starting to get to the double digits and it’s having issues it’s time to replace it.

7. The Automatic Changeover Isn’t Functioning

This is only for those who have dual propane tanks and an automatic RV propane regulator.

The old propane regulator on my travel trailer was automatic but after a while, it stopped switching over automatically and had to be changed over manually. The tank level indicator started showing red and wouldn’t reset and soon after the regulator started having issues keeping the correct pressure and the burners on our stove started popping and the flames got weak.

Luckily we were near a store that sold RV propane regulators and we were able to switch it out before the old one stopped working altogether. If your automatic system starts to malfunction it may be an early sign that your regulator is starting to go bad.

Conclusion

Propane regulators are a very important part of any RV propane system and they need to be working properly so your appliances will be working right. It can be a big deal if you are out boondocking and your fridge stops running because the propane regulator gave out. Keeping an eye out for early signs of wear on your regulator and replacing it before it gives out completely is a good idea and can save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

See Also: Can Propane Regulators Or Propane Lines Freeze?

If your RV propane regulator needs replacing check out this review of some of the best regulators on the market today.

If you know of any more ways to tell if an RV propane regulator is going bad or have any questions about them, leave a comment below. 

32 thoughts on “7 Signs That Your RV Propane Regulator Has Gone Bad”

  1. oh my god, my propane regulator has most of the signals you say. I need to fix it right now. Fortunately nothing dangerous has happened at all. Thank you very much

    Reply
  2. I bought a travel trailer and I am getting a gas smell during the day. The tanks are not completely full. Since the the trailer has not been used for years, can the washers in the tank outlet go bad and start leaking? bill

    Reply
    • It is possible for the rubber washers to get old and that could be part of the problem.

      The first thing you need to do is locate where the leak is. Take a bowl or spray bottle and combine about 2 cups of water with around 2 or 3 tablespoons of dish soap. Test every propane connection in your RV by spraying the soapy water on it or applying it with a sponge. If there’s a leak, large bubbles will start to form.

      I would start with the propane regulator then move on to the water heater, the fridge, the furnace, and then the stove.
      Make sure to turn off your main propane line once the leak is found before you undo anything. If the rubber washer inside looks fine it could be that the nut wasn’t tightened enough. If the leak is coming from the propane regulator it is possible that it has been damaged and needs to be replaced.

      I hope this was helpful in some way and you find the source of the propane smell in your trailer.

      Reply
  3. I have a MEC Marshall MEGR-253 auto changeover Reg that I just installed new.

    Its connected on 2 30lb tanks on my trailer. When I stand beside the tanks and listen carefully I can here a pulsing BONG BONG BONG sound coming from the reg during anyone of my appliances are running. It sounds like the valve is pulsing about 2 times per second.
    Is that normal ? My other Marshall did not do that.

    Thanks …
    Indy J.

    Reply
    • Hi Indy,

      One of the things that could be causing this is the propane tank being opened too fast after being connected to the regulator. Sometimes the sudden pressure can mess with the diaphram inside the regulator. To fix this first turn off the propane tank and wait for a few minutes to let the regulator reset. Then slowly open the valve.

      If that didn’t help another issue could be that the propane tanks were overfilled but that issue should go away once the propane levels fall.

      There could also be a leak somewhere near the regulator. Make sure all the connections are airtight including the pigtails that go from the regulator to the propane tanks.

      Hope this helps, good luck with the regulator.

      Reply
  4. I use a single 40 pound propane tank on my Norcold fridge, but it seems like my tank is burning lots of fuel could I have the wrong pressure regulator on the line does it need to be low pressure pretty sure the one I have on it is high pressure but possibly not no indications! According to what I have read I should be able to get 5 to 6 weeks out out of 40 pounder tank I’m no expert in this area area could use the help. Thanks for any info!!

    Reply
    • Hi Keith,

      A two-stage regulator is going to be the best option for a propane fridge. If you are only using a single-stage propane regulator that could be part of the problem. Check out this article to read more about 2-stage RV propane regulators.

      If you are using a 2 stage propane regulator the fridge may be the problem. For instance, an RV fridge will burn more fuel to try and keep cool when it’s hot out. Adding fans like these behind the fridge will help circulate air when it’s hot and help your fridge run more efficiently.

      It also could be that your fridge is trying to cool too much. RV fridges normally have different settings and it might be set too high. Using thermometers like these can help you keep an eye on the temps inside the fridge and freezer so you know what settings it should be at to keep everything at the correct temperatures.

      Unfortunately, propane fridges can be very temperamental. Our Norcold RV fridge is always giving us trouble as well. Hopefully at least one of these suggestions will help. Good luck with the fridge, feel free to ask if you have any more questions.

      Reply
  5. I am trying to replace my 2-stage regulator, it has worked well for the last 11 years. It is a Marshall Gas Controls, Model # R3494 650,000BTU, Max Inlet 250 PSIG P.O.L, Outlet 10-14 in. w.c. 1/2 in. NPT. Would you have any idea where to get one?

    Reply
    • Hi Jeff,

      It’s going to be hard to find an exact replacement for that model of propane regulator. One of the best options will probably be to find a newer model that has close to the same specifications. The safest way to find the correct one will be to have a propane technician replace it and adjust it accordingly.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful in finding an exact replacement.

      Reply
  6. If you mistakenly leave the regulator selector valve aimed straight down instead of fully right or left (like it should be), would that impede the flow of propane to your appliances or would you just loose the automatic switchover capability?

    Reply
    • Normally if left pointed straight down the regulator will pull propane from each tank simultaneously which doesn’t impede the flow of propane so long as both tanks are open. The main problem with doing it that way is you won’t have a reserve tank and they will both empty at the same time. Also, if you only have one propane tank open and the selector is aimed straight down it could potentially limit the propane output since one side isn’t putting out any propane.

      Reply
  7. My LP furnace is not working & I believe my LP regulator is the cause. While the hot water heater, refrigerator and LP stove work as designed the furnace will not ignite. I checked the furnace igniter which has a good strong arc so that appears to work correctly. I checked for & found the 12V spike, sound & movement of the furnace solenoid opening during ignition so that appears to work correctly but what I did noticed was that stove burner flames drops off noticeably when the furnace solenoid opens to ignite the furnace then stove flames jump back to life when the solenoid closes. Is this a sign of a regulator problem?

    Reply
    • Hello Matthew,

      Hard to say based on that, but I would definitely try changing the regulator before getting a new furnace. I assume that the fan turns on when you turn the furnace on?

      Here are two things I would try first, I have had issues with my furnace and this is what fixed it two separate times.

      1. Pull out the furnace and make sure that no cables have fallen out. I had some issues with the fan turning on but the furnace not igniting, and it was a cable that had fallen out. Sounds like your furnace tries but can’t get it going though, but I would still check to be sure.

      2. Remove the exhaust pipe cover on the outside of your camper and try to run the furnace without it. If it gets too hot, or not enough air, it’s not going to ignite and run. Also check the pipe to make sure it’s clear.

      Sorry I couldn’t be of more help, let me know if you have any questions.

      Jesse

      Reply
      • Jesse,
        Thanks for the quick reply. In the area I live, Catskill Mts NY, we always have constant pest problems. My camper is 10 years old and I have already replaced my refrigerator, because field mice got into and destroyed the circuit board, I have to place ant traps in the camper every spring and I have to clear the air/LP balance vent tube on the hot water heater annually because of stink bug infestation. When I pulled the igniter to check for spark a few days back I saw, with the help of a flash light, roasted stink bugs in the fire box. So I pulled out the solenoid along with the LP gas tray to clean that out as well. I can keep the mice out and ants out but is all but impossible to keep the stink bugs out! I forgot to mention in my earlier comment but I often catch a whiff of mercaptan outside the LP locker but yes, I agree with you, I’ll replace the regulator. They are inexpensive enough.

        Reply
  8. Hello,
    I’m having trouble with my Dometic fridge. it works fine on 12v, 240. The fridge will light on gas run for about 10-20mins then automatically shut off. I have had engineers out and they can’t find the problem. The hob is running fine and the water heater is running fine… so confused why it isn’t running? any advice would be great?

    Reply
  9. Hi and thanks for sharing. I have an old 1985 lance cab over camper. The Lp regulator works good when I’m cooking. When I turn in water heater or air heater, after cople of minutes the same lp became covered by freeze propane and the pressure increase a lot.. i turn of the propane tank and still gas come out from the chicken for 30 sec more… il fix this problem just changing the lp regulator, or I need some extra ? Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    • Hi Giona,

      There are a few factors that may be causing your LP regulator to freeze when you turn on high propane use appliances like your water heater or furnace. The first thing is most likely moisture build-up inside your propane tank. It’s a fairly common issue that can be fixed by getting your tanks refilled with a winter propane mix that has anhydrous methanol in it which will absorb the moisture in your tanks, you could also do a propane tank exchange to get new tanks if you prefer that method. I would also replace the propane regulator because old regulators can be the reason so much moisture got into the tanks in the first place.

      Also if your propane tanks are being overfilled that could be another reason the lp regulator is freezing. When a tank is overfilled it can cause liquid propane to go into the regulator which will then freeze it. You can read more about it and what to do if your regulator freezes in this article here.

      As for the last problem, which was gas coming out in the kitchen for 30 seconds after you turned off your tank. This is actually totally normal. The gas that’s coming out after you turn off your propane tank is what’s left in the lines. That’s why whenever you are going to work on any propane appliance in your RV you should light one of the burners on your RV stove, then turn off the tank and let the burner continue to run until it goes out on its own. This will ensure that the propane lines have been drained completely.

      So for a quick recap, to fix your problem I would change the propane regulator because it sounds like it is getting old and it’s probably time to get a new one because it’s letting moisture into your tank, and also refill your propane tanks with a winter propane mix to make sure any moisture in them gets removed.

      Hope this was helpful, good luck with your camper.

      Reply
  10. My son and I were camping last weekend. And we have both propane tanks open. We had propane for heat and hot water. I didn’t know how the auto charge over worked so I switched to a full tank and then nothing would light. When I finally got something to light like the stove it worked. Then I would have the heater click on and light and then when it was satisfied and shut off. Then the heater would try to relight and now it will not light. I am thinking it the Auto Propane switch over since both tanks work just fine when connected to a gas grill at home. Am I thinking of the right thing to replace?

    Reply
    • If the stove is working just fine but your water heater isn’t lighting the problem is the water heater. If none of your propane appliances are working it could be your auto propane regulator but before replacing it I would try and reset it to see if that fixes the problem.

      To reset your propane regulator shut off both the propane tanks and unhook them from the regulator. Wait for about 10 minutes then reattach both or one of the propane tanks. Make sure the regulator switch is turned to the propane tank that is the most full.

      Now slowly turn the valve on the propane tank until it is fully open. The reason you should open the propane tank valve slowly is because sometimes the emergency shut off valve in the regulator can get stuck on if the tank is opened too quickly. If you open it slowly it shouldn’t activate.

      Hopefully, this will solve any issues with your regulator. If it doesn’t fix the problem you may need to replace the propane regulator.

      Reply
  11. Sf 30 suburban heater running thru the (3) cycles. But won’t stay lit. Took it out only drew blood 3 times. Took it to an RV service center. They hooked it up on the bench and it runs like it’s supposed to. They suggested a new thermostat. Brought it back reinstalled it did not hook it up to the thermostat just wired the blue wires together like they had on the bench, hooked up the propane line (tank is 1/2 full) . It lights like before and won’t stay lit. Propane stove all burners on works fine flame looks good, fridge works fine. Do you think it’s the regulator? Two days down and still not fixed!

    Reply
    • We had that exact same problem with our RV furnace not too long ago. If everything else is working the regulator is probably fine. The thing that worked for us is we took off the metal thing covering the exhaust pipe from the furnace on the outside of the RV, also check the exhaust pipe to make sure nothing is inside of it like a wasp nest. Then we made sure all of the floor vents were open and didn’t have anything covering them. RV furnaces have sensors in them that will shut off the furnace if there isn’t enough airflow, it stops the furnace from overheating or something like that.

      For some reason taking off that outer metal cover and keeping the inside floor vents open and unobstructed has fixed the problem. The furnace hasn’t turned off prematurely since. We did change our regulator as well, but I’m not 100% sure if that helped or not. I would try uncovering the vents and the exhaust pipe first and then maybe changing the propane regulator if that doesn’t fix it.

      If removing the metal piece on the outside of the RV works you can get an insect cover like this (click to view on Amazon) to replace the metal cover (we use the same one). It doesn’t restrict the airflow as much and it will stop wasps from getting into your RV.

      Reply
  12. i have replaced my furnace with a new core and its still doing the same thing the 20 year old 1 was.it lights 3 times and then goes into lockout.im thinking its a bad regulator but my other lp appliances work.since the furnace uses more propane than the other appliances could a bad regulator let the other ones work but not the furnace?

    Reply
    • The problem could easily be a bad propane regulator but you may also want to try checking all the vents inside the RV and the exhaust vent on the outside of the RV. If any of these are blocked in any way it could be what’s causing the furnace to shut off. The sensors inside of them can be tricky to not set off and making sure there is plenty of airflow can help. We had the same issue and when we removed the metal cover on the outside furnace exhaust pipe it stopped flipping the sensor, and the furnace now works.

      If checking the vents doesn’t work then you should try replacing the propane regulator.

      Reply
  13. The problem with propane in my RV motor coach is enough flow from the propane tank, which is full, to keep the stove lit after I
    first ignite the pilot light. The flame goes out when I try to increase the stove flame. The same thing happens when I turn the heat on the AC thermostat. It constantly cycles but does not stay on. I have the fan on high but no heat is coming out of the floor vents.
    The coach is a 2020 Thor Four Winds 31W. Could my problem also be the propane regulator?

    Reply
    • Hi Terry,

      The regulator is what’s in charge of propane flow so it does sound like that’s the problem. You could get a new one and replace it to see if that helps or you could take your RV to a dealer and have them test the pressure in the lines to make sure the regulator is adjusted correctly and working as it should.

      Reply

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