Handling Problems on the Road: Our Propane Leak

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No matter what kind of rig you own, there is always something wrong. Something is broken, leaking, or in need of a mechanic. I learned this fact within about five minutes of purchasing our RV. I suppose the same goes for home ownership.

propane problems

Sometimes, easy problems come up like needing a quick oil change or needing to mop the floor after the cap breaks on a gallon of toilet deodorant and dark blue liquid stains all of your white cabinets while you’re driving. (When we get back to Texas, the first thing we will need to do is replace our baseboards, which are all stained a slight shade of blue now.)

But then there are life-threatening problems. A couple weeks ago, our brakes suddenly made a horrendous sound as we left a job late one night. We drove a mechanic the next morning who found that our brake pad shattered and jammed in various places under our hood. Yikes!

A few days ago, I breathed in our next problem. I couldn’t smell anything inside the RV. I had just stepped out for no more than two minutes talking to someone out in the fresh air. When I stepped up to climb in the RV, the odor was pungent. Propane.

Our carbon monoxide detector works, as we learned from once leaving a window open while running our generator. If we had a major gas leak, it would let us know. When I walked into the RV, the smell disappeared. I checked our stove, double checking to make sure no knobs were turned on and no gas was leaking. Nothing.

I shrugged off what was probably me being insane and went back outside into the fresh air. An hour later, as I walked back into the RV, I could smell the odor again. Unmistakeable.

I mentioned recently that we purchased a new fridge, but in the process our gas line broke. We properly plugged the leak and checked to ensure there was no leak. After a few weeks of jostling around in the RV, it would seem that our plug came a little loose.

Fortunately, we had tried multiple times to find a place to fill our propane tank in the past two weeks. We were below 1/4 of a tank, and hadn’t filled up since July in Wyoming. But every RV park we visited couldn’t fill our tank or didn’t have the proper person on staff. We were nearly on empty.

Upon finding the leak, we instantly turned off our propane, lucky that our tank wasn’t full. It was past five on a friday night, so we couldn’t call any mechanics until the next morning.

We opened every window in the RV to let it air out and setup a fan to blow any remaining gas out of the air. The next day, we were late to our job in Massachusetts, but we had our gas line fixed and our propane tank filled.

There are some RV problems that you can let simmer. I can ignore our broken jacks and our stained blue baseboards, and pretend as if everything in the RV is fine and dandy.

But I can’t ignore a propane leak. This is the kind of problem that causes Hollywood-sized explosions.

I’ve found that same rules apply in marriage and in life. There are some problems, like tripping over Heath’s boots or my habit of playing Christmas music 24/7, that can be overlooked. They are the minor inconveniences, like how yesterday half of our lights suddenly stopped working.

Then there are the gas leak sized problems. These are the we-have-no-place-to-sleep-tonight freak outs or what I call the GPS-induced shouts. These problems need to be tackled head on.

For me, this is the hardest part of marriage. In an RV, you cannot run or drive away from your problems. They ride along with you, like our leaking roof.

I’ve never been a wonderful problem solver, unless it was algebra or calculus. Problems in life don’t always have such clear, right answers. You can’t just plug the leak and move on. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, open your heart, and let your pride suffer when you’re wrong. We have to confront our problems every day, before they (quite literally) kill us.