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westysplace 10-10-2011 10:19 AM

Almost an RV Streaker
Some of our most relaxing vacation time has been spent in our RV. However, one recent morning's events got the ticker going a little too fast for my liking!
My wife and I had just finished our first cup of coffee after taking the chill off the RV space with our Suburban furnace. I decided to take a quick shower to allow my wife to do the complete makeover later on. I had just lathered up with the shampoo when a shrill alarm sound pierced the morning quiet. It was like a clap of thunder on a partly sunny day. It just seemed altogether out of place! I immediately lept out of the shower in my "starkers" shouting "What the heck is that?". Of course, my glasses were somewhere and I couldn't see a thing. It certainly didn't sound like a standard smoke alarm. My wife shouted back "Its the LP gas detector." She could smell the gas, but I couldn't smell a thing.
I immediately thought of the furnace. Somehow the gas valve hadn't shut off completely. I shouted to her, "Go shut off the LPG tanks outside and I will start venting the trailer. Those dreaded words in response are still echoing in my head, "Well, how do you do that?". I thought "towel wrap or briefs, which one?". About thtat time my wife noticed that a range knob was turned to the ignite position. Evidently, while I was in the shower my wife had leaned up against the range to clean the microwave above after frying bacon. She had inadvertently leaned in far enough to turn the knob. I tested this later and it easily turned with little push and turn effort. She immediately turned the burner off. After finding my glasses and then pants, in that order, I opened the front door, since this represents the biggest opening for venting at floor level. I then turned on the Super Fan to the "IN/HI" position and hoped for the best. The alarm cleared in about a minute and we breathed a sigh of relief.
Well, I thought I could: install a spacer bar behind the knobs to prevent operation when not in use, pull the knobs off altogether until use, replace the springs in the burner valves, or shut off the LPG tanks outside when not in use for cooking. Conceivably if the fridge and water heater can be operated on power and an electric space heater used for chilly mornings, then the LPG tanks aren't needed much. I'm still mulling this over. A 30A system is pretty well taxed with a hair dryer and coffee maker.
Well there you have it! Our RV neighbors almost got a show and we had some life's lessons!!

LJAZ 10-10-2011 12:32 PM

On the plus side that LP detector alarm sure came in handy! It let you know there was a problem BEFORE anything bad happened. Glad to hear your adventure turned out OK.

westysplace 10-12-2011 10:27 PM

Yes the detector did its job. Thank you!
I hope everyone understands how dangerous this could have been. If the furnace had been running and an open range valve left undetected, buildup of propane could have eventually made its way to the open flame through penetrations in the cabinet. This might happen despite the positive blower pressure through the furnace vent.
An even more risky and dangerous scenario could include us both rushing out the door to the days activities after giving a final clean of the micro. The furnace is either left running or on thermostat control. If the furnace igniter was sparked on thermostat control and sufficient buidup had accurred that little spark would be a sure bet!
Based on this "life lessons" experience, I vowed the following:
*My Better Half will know how to open the LPG bottle storage and shut off the LPG supply. She also will find and operate all critical electrical breakers and shutoff switches and know the importance of each.
*I will never have the LPG in service unless one of us is present occupying the trailer or the furnace shutoff rocker switch is in the "OFF" position. The latter may suffice since the other LPG ignition sources are on the outside of the trailer.
*I will use power as the priority energy source for all my needs. The LPG bottles could be shut down most of the time. In a lot of cases power costs are included in the rates, so this is the cheaper way to go anyway.

LJAZ 10-13-2011 08:08 AM

+1 on that. I'd also add - push the test button on that alarm periodically to make sure it works. The manual for mine recommends testing weekly.

guybmoto 10-31-2011 10:57 AM

Westy, you may have been lucky that you didn't provide the spark by turning on your vent fan, or via the water heater for your shower.

Glad things turned out okay.

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