Ins and Outs of Propane and your RV
Propane is a crucial component of any RV. It’s responsible for heating the water you bathe in or keeping you warm when the temperature outside is not, especially with how cold it can get in Colorado! RV Four Seasons in Loveland and Wheat Ridge near Denver has some important tips for you about this innocuous gas.
Some Basic Propane Info
Propane as we know it, is a clean burning flammable gas. Well, kind of. The propane in your tank is actually a liquid that’s stored at high pressures. The reason that you can’t just fill up a jug of liquid propane, is that propane is made up of exceedingly light molecules, and liquid propane has a boiling point of -44° F, so unless you’re in Antarctica, your fuel wouldn’t stay liquid for long. This boiling point is actually the reason that propane is such a great substance for camping and travel, as the liquid will evaporate into a burnable gas in seconds, without the need for a carburetor or any other process to aerosolize the liquid. So, what does all of this mean to you? Read on and find out.
So propane needs to be stored at high pressures, which means that it requires specially designed tanks. If you’re using propane in your RV, it comes in one of two types of container: ASME Tanks, and DOT Cylinders. DOT Cylinders are the easiest to spot, as these are the white tanks that you’ll see riding on the front of a travel trailer. These containers are designed to be removed for filling, so you can pull them off and head to the fuel station freely. ASME tanks are found in most motorhomes, and they’re typically built into the structure of your RV, meaning you’ll have to bring your rig around to the fuel station to top off, or have a service bring fuel around to you.
No matter which type of tank you have it’s important that your tank remains in good condition so it can keep you safe. The biggest things to look out for are dents, cracks, and signs of corrosion like rust. You should also keep an eye out for signs of wear and decay in your propane hoses and fittings. You can take a page out of the tire care playbook and check for leaks in your hoses using a light mix of soap and water in a spray bottle to find areas where you may have a less than perfect seal. If you notice issues or leaking, see your propane dealer for help in getting your tank replaced.
One final note, especially for travel trailer RVers who use DOT Cylinders, your white propane tanks should stay that color. The paint on the tank is actually chosen to help reflect heat and reduce pressure in the tanks, so don’t go painting your propane cylinders black because you think they’d look cooler.
Safe Travels with Propane
So what can you do to stay safe when you travel with propane? Propane actually travels pretty well, but the appliances that use your propane need to be serviced regularly to ensure safe operation. Your water heater is a great example of this, and you can actually see when your heater is due for a checkup. The flame of your water heater should be a clean blue color. Orange or yellow flame, and flickering, is a sign of a dirty system which our service department can help you clean up. Your furnace is trickier, as these closed systems don’t have many obvious warning signs. Your best bet is to keep your ears open and listen for your furnace fan kicking on at random, an audible *whoosh* when you the furnace turns on, or a fan blowing without any actual heat. Again, our service department would be happy to help you keep these systems running smoothly.
So other than keeping your appliances running smooth, is there anything you should do when you travel? We recommend that when you hit the road, you shut off your propane and propane appliances. The reason is that the pilot lights for these appliances are often only concealed by a vented panel, which qualifies as an ‘Exposed ignition source’ in a gas station. Out of an abundance of caution, shut down your propane on the road. If you’re worried about food in the fridge spoiling, a bag of ice and an affordable cooler will keep your meat and dairy from going bad until you get your destination.
If you have any doubts as to the setup of your propane tank or any of the gas connections, come see us at our service department. RV Four Seasons is just a short drive from Colorado Springs and Cheyenne, Wyoming.