How to Tell if Propane Regulator is Bad?

If you wish to know whether or not your propane regulator is bad, you have come to the right place. When left unchecked, a malfunctioning propane stove regulator, gas fireplace regulator, or any other appliance, might cause catastrophe. This also holds for troubleshooting propane regulators for grills, and your home. Regulators for propane aren’t built to last forever. A regulator’s lifespan is around ten years; if it is too old, it may fail. It’s time to replace your regulator if it’s starting to reach the double digits in age and isn’t working correctly.

Propane Regulator

What is Exactly Propane Regulator?

Your propane tank’s regulator regulates how much gas is sent from the tank to the propane-using equipment. The regulator, in the simplest sense, lowers the high gas pressure from the propane cylinder to the significantly lower gas pressure that the propane device requires. While certain appliances need a more substantial propane flow, some need less. The regulator on a propane tank controls the gas as it is used up because when propane is burned, it turns into a material that is lighter than air. A propane regulator aids in ensuring the safety of propane usage by bottlenecking the propane down to a safe and usable pressure.

Types of Propane Regulators

Since the purpose of a propane regulator is the same for all types, the propane regulator tank types vary due to different sizes and styles of systems. Some LPG systems are designed to need multiple regulators, while others need single ones.

The type of propane regulator you need is determined by the style and design of your system, which includes:

First Stage Regulators

For larger grills with numerous burners, first-stage regulators are made. With this kind of regulator, a sizable capacity of 200,000 BTUs as possible, and it controls the tank’s pressure and lowers it to a more usable level.

Second Stage Regulator

The second stage regulator has a 17500 BTU capacity. It is intended to be fitted after the first stage regulator to reduce gas flow. It controls the gas flow from the tank and maintains the appropriate pressure for the appliance.

High-Pressure Regulator

Instead of barbecues, this propane regulator is typically used for fryers. High-pressure regulators regulate the gas pressure between the gas tank and the appliance. High-pressure regulators are made to be easily identifiable by their “Red” color design.

Adjustable High-Pressure Regulators

These are made to control high-pressure regulators. Adjustable high-pressure regulators enhance the gas flow while taking all necessary safety measures.

Integral Two-Stage Regulator

The most popular propane regulator is an integral two-stage regulator used to secure and maintain several regulators. However, appliances positioned far from the gas system are not the most extraordinary candidates for this sort of regulator.

Automatic Changeover Regulator

In situations where an empty cylinder is employed, automatic changeover regulators are used to guaranteeing the flow of gas. Gas flow is automatically reversed, allowing the appliance to regulate.

How to Tell if Propane Regulator is Bad?

There are several telltale signs of a faulty propane regulator. In the following, we’ll discuss some of the most common signs that indicate that your propane regulator is malfunctioning:

Yellow or Orange Flames Instead of Blue

Low propane pressure or incomplete combustion may cause yellow or orange flames to appear on your gas burner. On the other hand, blue flames represent complete combustion and intense gas pressure. Yellow flames or orange can occur for various causes, one of which is a bad regulator.

Blue flames indicate two thousand degrees Celsius. On the other hand, yellow, orange, or red flames indicate a temperature of a thousand degrees celsius. The gas should always flame blue if the regulator allows the proper flow of propane. Yellow flames or orange indicate low propane pressure, which could be an issue with the propane regulator.

Soot on Burners

If you see soot, a black powder made of amorphous carbon, your propane regulator may malfunction. The presence of soot on burners results from the incomplete combustion of hydrocarbons and is not always related to the regulator. Burners producing soot show a problem with the regulator, a clogged hose, or the burners themselves. The burners and hoses can be cleaned to solve this problem. If the problem continues, the regulator and not the burners are to blame.

Unusual Sounds

  • Popping noises when you turn on the burners,
  • Roaring sounds when you set burners to high heat, and
  • Hissing sounds after you turn off the burners.

In ordinary conditions, burners shouldn’t make audible noises. If the burner noise is too high and causes discomfort, it’s a sure sign that the regulator is malfunctioning.

However, before replacing the regulator, make sure that all burners on your grill, stove, or fireplace make such sounds. Remember, if one of the two burners makes unusual sounds, you must understand that the problem is with the burner and not the regulator.

It’s normal for burners to hiss when on, but it’s a slight hiss instead of a roaring sound. The reason for this slight hiss is the gas flowing through the hose and burners. High burner sounds indicate high gas pressure. If a regulator fails to mediate the high gas pressure from the propane tank, it causes the burner to roar and the flame to become inconsistent.

Reduced or No Gas Flow

Even if you replace the propane tank, the problem could be with the regulator if your grill’s burners still won’t light. The “bypass mode” safety function of the regulator is typically to blame in these circumstances. You’ll need to reset your gas grill regulator to fix this problem. This issue arises when the regulator believes there is a leak in the system.

You can turn off all of the burners, detach the regulator from the tank, and then screw it back on after at least 30 seconds have passed. After doing this, pause for a short while to allow the hose’s pressure to increase. Then gradually start the burners. Your propane regulator has now been successfully reset. A valve makes up the regulator’s safety mechanism.

The safety valve trips, and the regulator switches to bypass mode if there is low gas pressure inside the hose due to a leak. In this scenario, the regulator shuts down or lowers the gas flow from the propane gas tank to the burners.

The Smell of a Gas Leak

Gas firms add mercaptan (methanethiol), an unpleasant-smelling gas, to propane because it is colorless and odorless to give it its distinctive fragrance. It is an odorant and has an unpleasant odor of rotting eggs, cabbage, or garlic. The addition of this chemical is intended to facilitate leak detection. Change the propane regulator if you notice this odor.

The gas leak smell doesn’t always indicate that the regulator is malfunctioning, just like the other warning indicators on the list. Leaks occasionally appear in the hose that joins the regulator and the grill. You can spray soapy water on the area where bubbles form to pinpoint the location of the gas leak. Wash the regulator with soapy water to confirm the issue with the regulator, not the hose.

The Automatic Changeover isn’t Working

Dual propane tank regulators, also known as two-switch regulators, are the only ones with this issue. When one of the two propane tanks in the two-switch propane regulator is empty, it automatically switches to the other tank. The automatic switchover of your two-switch regulator isn’t working if none of the tanks supply propane to your RV or outdoor gas grill. You will typically need to replace your two-switch propane regulator in this situation.

How to Test Propane Regulator? (Testing Method)

Propane Regulator

It’s critical to diagnose the issue before attempting to resolve it correctly. Here are a few of the most important checks you may run on a propane regulator.

Water and Soap Leak Test

As previously said, spray the regulator with a dish soap-water solution to clean it, especially the connection terminals. Now start the burners and gas. If bubbles appear, that’s where the issue is. This examination will also reveal how well or poorly your regulator is functioning.

Simple Leak Test through Blowing Air

Blowing air into a balloon, like you would while filling one, is one of the simplest tests. It’s not too difficult to do. You must unplug the gas regulator and use a hose to blow air through it. You place a candle or mud lamp on the open end to test whether air enters the hose to alter the burning flame. There is a simple way to determine whether the propane regulator is blocked or not. But unlike a pressure gauge, it might not provide an accurate reading.

Flow-Pressure Test

To perform this test, you’ll need a water column manometer and a pressure gauge.

  1. Install the measuring device, say a water column manometer, in the test tap of the gas appliance’s shutoff valve.
  2. Set all the burners on the appliance under test to their highest settings.
  3. Note the flowing gas pressure on the manometer or pressure gauge.
  4. Compare that pressure to the appliance’s required pressure specified on the attached data tag.

If the pressure-flow readings don’t correspond to those specified by the device’s manufacturer, there can be two reasons. First, it may be that the regulator’s output capacity is inadequate. In this case, you’ll need a regulator with adequate output capacity. Second, the regulator may be outdated, malfunctioning, or wholly or partially blocked.

Lock-Up (Static) Test

The following is the procedure to read the static gas pressure:

  1. Turn all propane appliances off, and turn off the gas supply at each propane appliance’s gas shutoff valve.
  2. Now turn the propane tank valve open to allow pressure to build up in the gas delivery system.
  3. Note the gas pressure on the pressure gauge. Remember that the static gas pressure shouldn’t be more than 30% of the flowing gas pressure.

How does a Propane Regulator Work?

Propane regulators typically produce less than a pound of operating gas pressure of gauge-measurable pressure. A rubber diaphragm fastened to the interior of the aluminum saucer accomplishes this, and the pressure spring controls the scattered gas as it moves against this diaphragm.

A propane regulator regulates how much gas vapor travels from the tank to the burner tip. The regulator provides over-pressure protection, typically a pressure relief device, to assure safety. Leaks and high pressure, which can cause fires and explosions, are thus avoided.


A colorless gas, propane has a mild yet unmistakable fragrance. The majority of commercial propane is kept in tanks under pressure in liquid form. Liquid propane is odorless, colorless, and similar to water. Any camper propane system needs functioning propane regulators for your appliances to operate as intended. It can be a significant concern when boondocking and your refrigerator stops working because the propane regulator fails. It is a good idea to keep a look out for early indications of wear on your regulator and replace it before it fails because it will save you a lot of grief in the long run.