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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.


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. 

6 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

  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

    • 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.


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