Troubleshooting a Propane Detector

A man adjusts a propane tank.

People tend to use a propane detector in an RV, where it can give warning of a leak from the propane tank and avoid the occupants being overcome by gas. If the propane detector isn’t working, however, that can be dangerous. There are several problems that can occur with a propane detector, Knowing how to troubleshoot and fix them can keep you safe.


There are a few basic safety items to consider when troubleshooting a propane detector. They all relate to the propane tank itself. It should always be stored upright. Keep it in an area that’s well-ventilated to avoid any possible build up of gases. Finally, and most important, never store the propane tank near any source of heat; that’s simply asking for trouble.

Propane Detector

If there’s a problem with the propane detector it should make a regular beeping sound. The chances are that you’ll also be able to smell the gas, as it has the odor of rotten eggs; it's not easy to ignore. Unless there is a problem the propane detector won’t beep. You need to be able to distinguish the sound from that of the smoke alarm in the RV. That kind of confusion might seem unlikely, but it has happened before.

False Reading

It’s possible that you might have a false reading from the propane detector, especially if there’s a build up of gases in the RV. Butane, which is in hairspray, can cause this. Vent the RV to allow the gases to disperse and see if the propane detector keeps on beeping. If it doesn’t, then you’ve simply had a false alarm.


Having a low battery in your RV can cause a false reading in your propane detector. If the battery level is really low it can also cause the propane detector to beep. Check the battery to make sure you have sufficient power. If it’s very low, replace the battery and see if the propane detector keeps beeping.

Propane Levels

Check the propane tank to see how much gas is left. Sometimes, when the levels are low, it can cause the propane detector to go off. In this instance, change to a new propane tank and see if the beeping stops.


The problem causing the propane detector to go off could be a propane leak. If there is one it will be in the connections. There’s a simple way to check this. Mix up a solution of soap and water and brush it on all the connections. If any of these begin to bubble, then you have a leak. Clean the connection and tighten it slightly with a wrench.

Test again with the soap and water. If it’s still bubbling, turn off the propane at the tank and take the RV to a professional who can properly repair the connections. Only attempt this repair yourself if you’re very experienced.