RV Propane Not Flowing: What To Check?

When your RV propane stops flowing unexpectedly, it can prove to be really annoying. This is especially true if you have been looking forward to your trip.

Fortunately, this issue is simple to troubleshoot. All you need is some basic understanding of how the system works. 

In this post, we will go step by step through the troubleshooting process. These simplified steps should help you to figure out what the underlying cause could be. 

Here is a quick overview on what to check:

  • Check if the propane tank valve is set to “ON”
  • During winter, older propane tanks freeze up failing to produce enough pressure
  • Confirm the excess flow limiter is not causing cutoff
  • Check the pressure regulator in the mainline
  • Make sure the RV Propane Tank is not Empty

Now, let us delve deeper into each of the above possible reasons for propane not flowing.

1. Check if the Propane Tank Valve is Open Fully

If the valve on your propane tank is not open, there will be no flow to the cooking appliances. This may seem a basic thing to forget, but it happens. 

If you are like me, after the last road trip, you switch off the appliances and the valve on the propane tank to be sure there is no leakage for the time when the RV is parked. 

When you prepare for a road trip, there is so much to do, and some basics like switching on the propane tank valve can be overlooked. In all the fuss, you may have convinced yourself that you turned it on, even though it remains off.

Better still, you could have checked to confirm the propane tank is on before setting out for the road trip. The next stop could be at the propane refilling station. 

Before the attendant refills the propane tank, he or she must switch off the propane tank valve. After refilling the propane tank, the attendant is in a rush to serve the next customer, and easily forgets to switch on the propane tank valve. This may also be the reason. 

Technically, RV propane will not flow to cooking appliances if you have the propane tank valve switched off. 

Therefore, you need to go back to the propane tank storage and switch on the propane tank valve to let the LPG out into the cooking appliances. 

If you are using a recycled propane tank, you may want to request propane tank recertification to guarantee that the propane tank valve is in proper working conditions. Do not forget that propane tanks need to undergo proper inspection 12 years after the date of manufacture. 

During the inspection, a certified propane tank dealer will check the valve and order for replacement in case it seems to malfunction. Don’t overlook the possibility of needing a new tank.

2. Older Propane Tanks Freeze Up Failing to Produce Enough Pressure

During winter, the older propane tanks could freeze up, failing to produce enough pressure to be able to run the system. Your cold passengers will recognize this quickly. 

If you are using older propane tanks, consider replacing them with newer ones. Alternatively, make sure to have a secondary propane tank, to which you can switch over to help in restoring the flow of gas into the system. 

The issue of freezing tanks could cause trouble if you do not have a backup propane tank, or if the two propane tanks are low.  There are simple hacks you can try to keep propane tanks from freezing. Here are some simple tricks to keep the propane tanks from freezing:

Simple Procedure to Prevent Propane Tank from Freezing

Wrapping the propane tank using an electric blanket helps to stop propane tank freezing. However, avoid wrapping around the regulator or the propane tank valve.

Use duct tape to secure the electric blanket to the propane tank. Make sure to cover the entire propane tank, but not the valve. 

Ensure the electric blanket is properly plugged in and set to the medium temperature

Open up the regulator valve to the required level. After use, make sure that the propane valve is switched off. Note that leaving the regulator valve open could result in freezing. Therefore, if you require more gas pressure, connect the secondary tank. This is to ensure an even spread of pressure.

3. Excess Flow Valve

The excess flow valve is also referred to as a flow limiter. As the name suggests, it is a simple device designed to limit propane flow in case of leaks. The safety device is set to stop flow of propane whenever it senses a major leak is occurring. 

The flow limiter will work in two different scenarios. Let us look into some of the scenarios when the propane limiter may be the culprit.

When there is a propane leak

Whenever there is an actual propane leak, the flow limiter will start to work. 

In such a scenario, it is advisable that you switch off the propane tank valve to ensure safety. In addition, switch off all sources of sparks or heat to avoid an explosion. Remember that the RV engine also needs to be switched off. 

The next stage is investigation. Upon finding the leaky part, open the windows to air out the RV. Ensure professional checks and repairs.

Mechanical Failure Causing Propane Leak

Similar to the other man made appliances, the LPG flow limit could bring about mechanical issues. This causes the limiter to engage even when there is no LPG leakage. Therefore, switch it off and back on to see if the issue persists. In case the problem persisting, consider buying a replacement LPG flow limiter immediately.

4. Mainline Pressure Regulator is not Working

RV manufacturers nowadays include a two-stage LPG pressure regulator. The reason for having the two is to regulate the high pressure that comes from the primary propane and distributes it to the internal propane appliances. 

Double check to ascertain that these connections are all open and connected firmly. You can reset the LPG pressure regulator easily. This resets the internal safety features. If the issue persists, consider buying a replacement LPG pressure regulator.

5. Make Sure You Have Propane!

As awkward as this may seem, propane not flowing could mean you need to drive by the propane refill station. Therefore, disconnect the propane tank and check whether you have any contents in there. You may connect the main line to the secondary propane tank.

Key Takeaway

Don’t let your propane issues overwhelm you. Check the above procedures to ascertain why your RV propane is not flowing. Sometimes, it could be a simple reason. In other cases, the reason is a bit technical, requiring you to ask a qualified professional. I believe this troubleshooting guide will help you greatly.