Inspect your propane rubber hoses regularly or risk disaster


By Russ and Tiña De Maris
A walk-around of the RV one day caused a “double take” when passing the LP cylinders on the A-frame. The high pressure rubber pigtail — the one that goes between the LP cylinder and the pressure regulator — was blasted apart at the fitting. The parts for the repair were cheap enough, a couple of bucks, but that freshly filled cylinder belched its contents into the atmosphere. Total cost: about $25. Still, that was cheap when compared to “what could have happened.”

I got to head-scratching. How many of us have rubber gas lines with pressed fittings inside our rigs? They’re a popular aftermarket add-on when it comes to installing a catalytic or blue-flame style heater. Simply find a nearby copper gas line, pop open a fitting, screw on that new rubber line and run it out to the new heater. A quick, cheap fix.
I would have to guess that the likelihood of a gas line blasting apart inside your rig like my pigtail did is probably (and hopefully) fairly remote. After all, those gas lines inside the rig should be on the low-pressure side of your regulator and, hence, a whole lot less internal pressure to work against the security of your fittings. But nonetheless, those fittings are due for their fair share of road vibration and wiggling when you move the hose or the heater around. They wouldn’t necessarily have to blast apart like mine did — only develop a minor leak.
The gent that filled up my empty propane container remarked that he’d had the sad opportunity of watching an RV thrown up in the air like a ragdoll and blasted apart by a propane explosion, leaving two people dead in the aftermath. Some sort of internal LP gas leak had built up and when the unfortunate occupants had tried making breakfast, they unknowingly had already consumed their last meal.
The upshot of this story? Invest in a good LP leak-detecting tool or at least a bottle of soap bubbles. Then, twice a year, maybe when you “change your clocks,” walk through your RV and carefully check each and every gas line fitting, whether on a flexible rubber gas line or on the more solid, factory-equipped stuff. You may not find a leak, but you’ll sleep better knowing you protected yourself and your loved ones.