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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.

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. 

22 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

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