By Russ and Tiña De Maris
With LP gas such a major supplier of energy in our rigs, sooner or later you’ll probably have to deal with a gas leak. Left “unfixed,” as quick as you can say “Hindenburg!” your dream rig can go up in smoke, taking you with it.
For years the industry standard for leak detection was a bath of soapy water. Paint or pour a stiff solution of dish soap and water on a suspect fitting and if it bubbles, you found it. Well, technology has its “one-upmanship.” How about an electronic gas leak detector? A whole lot less mess, but certainly sensitive, we’ve found “Pocket Air Check” beats the old soap bubble mix, and is a lot easier to carry in the tool box.
When we first met up with our leak detector, we had an older truck camper with “lay on the side” mounted LP cylinders. At the time, there were no fancy OPD valves with the easy, hand-twist-on hose fittings. We were still using the old style “POL” fittings, ones you had to tighten with a wrench. Refilling those babies, you had to be extremely careful about firmly tightening the fittings – the least bit of looseness could lead to a leak. Since that time, we’ve gone over to POL valves with the hand-tighten fittings, but still have found you can mess those up and have a leak. So checking for a secure valve-to-fitting connection is easy with the Air Check. How’s it work?
Just press and hold a button to turn it on, then run it along any gas line or fitting, holding it a quarter inch away. If a bit of gas is found, both an audible alarm and an LED light warn you of the danger. We’ve used ours to check out new propane installations and to chase down leaks in existing work. While it costs more than soap bubbles, the peace of mind and ease of use make it worth it for us.
You can find a Pocket Air Check here, or Amazon sells something similar. The latter we’ve never used, but looks to be much like ours, and has the advantage of being shipping-free if you’re a Prime member.