How to Tell If Propane Regulator Is Bad Before It’s Too Late

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So it’s been a while since you’ve checked up on the propane system of your grill. Propane or gas grills are a blessing as they require little maintenance and are pretty easy to use. This means that propane tank regulator problems can creep up on you and take you by surprise.

A faulty propane stove regulator or gas fireplace regulator or any other appliance can spell disaster when left unchecked. This also applies to grills, your house propane regulator, and even forklift propane regulator troubleshooting.

Not sure how to tell if propane regulator is bad? If you’ve been side-eyeing your propane regulator because something seems (but you can’t figure out what), this article will save you lots of guesswork. 

We’ve compiled 10 symptoms of a bad propane regulator so that you can arrange a replacement in advance.

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10 Signs That Your Propane Regulator Needs Replacing

how to tell if propane regulator is bad

If you think your propane regulator is acting up, check your system for the following signs. These faulty gas regulator symptoms will let you know that it’s time to get a new one.

01. Yellow Flames:

Any kind of appliance that is fueled by propane should have strong blue flames, which is an indication that it is working as it should. If you light your stove or turn on your grill and see lazy yellow flames instead of blue, it is a sign that your regulator needs replacing.

This is also a sign that the gas grill regulator pressure is low. A propane pressure regulator that is working will create blue flames that are level with the burner. On the other hand, if the flames are blue, noisy, and very tall it means that the LP gas regulator has high pressure.

Either way, the flames are the biggest indicator that natural gas regulator problems are on the rise. As a result, it may be time for an RV propane regulator troubleshooting.

02. Sooty Residue:

Deposits of soot on your burner are another common symptom that your propane gas regulator needs fixing or changing. When propane burns, it burns with a rather clean flame and doesn’t give off dark smoke.

If you notice dark spots and blackened residue around your heater, stove, or fireplace, something is wrong with your burner which is preventing the fire from burning cleanly. If adjusting the heat doesn’t help, it may be time to change your propane tank, pressure regulator.

03. Popping Sounds:

As mentioned above, propane burns cleanly and quietly. Do you hear popping noises when you turn off your burners? If yes, it is a sign that you need to change either the burners or the gas valve regulator. Once the changes are made, the popping noises will go away.

04. No Propane Flow:

Of course, if there is no propane flowing through the system, your burners will not light up. This can happen because the propane grill regulator pressure is extremely low. Or it can be caused by the safety feature within the regulator.

When the regulator detects a high propane flow it engages the safety valve and shuts off the same feature that is found on propane tanks. The propane regulator can be reset by switching off the propane tanks and ensuring all the propane appliances are shut off.

05. Faulty Vents and Leaking:

If you can smell propane when using your appliances, it is a clear sign that the regulator is leaking. If you want to confirm any leaks, spray or pour some soapy dishwater over the regulator. If bubbles start forming, that’s the location of your leak.

Also, there are vents situated at the bottom of the regulator. These help the regulator breathe and prevent it from overheating. 

It also acts as a safety feature that prevents the pressure from getting too high when the tank is overfilled. If you check and find that your tank isn’t overfilled, it may be time to switch to a different regulator.

06. Automatic Changeover is Malfunctioning:

This is meant for appliances with dual propane tanks and an automatic RV propane regulator. A new regulator will allow the appliance to switch to the second tank automatically, so you don’t have to do anything.

The tank level indicator might start showing red and won’t reset. Together with weak and yellow flames, it is an indication that something is seriously wrong with your regulator. If your automatic system is malfunctioning out of the blue, it may be an early sign that your regulator is going bad.

07. It’s Been Frozen:

This can happen in very cold climates, and if you haven’t been maintaining your appliances over the winter. If you find a buildup of frost around the regulator for your fireplace or water heater, there’s a good chance that it will need replacing.

Propane tank regulator freezing is fairly common and isn’t difficult to fix. The problem lies within the condensation that happens when the frost melts. The water can damage the regulator and result in serious malfunctioning.

08. It’s Been Dunked in Water:

If your propane tank regulator has been submerged in water, it will have to be replaced as soon as possible. The water enables chemicals and debris to get into the regulator spring area, which then leads to corrosion, rusting, and failure.

Drying it off isn’t a solution either. Although it may seem undamaged at first, the appliance will diffuse the gas unevenly through the system and lower its overall efficiency. This will result in a low-pressure propane regulator which is more trouble than what it’s worth.

09. It Smells of Propane:

If you can smell the natural gas when using your grill or stove, the safety system in your regulator may be busted. Gas leaks tend to happen in the diaphragm, a flexible disc that regulates the gas flow to an appropriate flow rate. 

It works together with the regulator vent, which moves the diaphragm up and down. If the vent isn’t leaking, it may be that the diaphragm is broken, so you need a new regulator anyways.

10. Your Regulator is over a Decade Old:

Propane regulators aren’t designed to work forever without hiccups. They have a shelf life of around 10 years, which means that after this time frame, you will notice significant malfunctions. There may be nothing wrong with it, just that it needs to retire ASAP.

If you’ve been using the same old propane regulator for the past 12 years, getting a new one should be a priority.

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Finding Your Propane Regulator

propane grill regulator pressure

Regulators are generally found under the tank dome or when installed outside the dome, they will have the vent pointed downwards. The vent is pointed this way to prevent rain, ice, and dust from entering the regulator. 

In short, the regulator will always be found somewhere near the tank.

The vent generally has a screen that keeps insects out, as certain insects will make a nest in a regulator without a protective vent screen. Regulators also have internal moving parts that are subject to wear and tear and after some time, resulting in their frequent alteration.

Propane companies can tell customers when the regulator needs to be changed due to either age or malfunction and the consumer needs to replace the regulator quickly. 

The industry norm is 10 years before a regulator needs replacement, although some may have to be replaced even sooner.

If your regulator has ever been underwater, it needs to be thrown out immediately. There is a difference between adjusting the gas valve regulator and replacing it. While licensed mechanics can make adjustments, a malfunctioning propane regulator has to be replaced.

Still Have Questions?

Below you will find answers to queries people tend to have about replacing their propane regulators.

01. How Does a Propane Regulator Work?

In most cases, propane regulators produce a working gas pressure in the area of less than a pound of pressure that can be measured on a gauge. 

This is done by a rubber diaphragm that is attached to the inside of the aluminum saucer. The pressure spring moves against this diaphragm and helps to control the dispersed gas.

02. What Does a Propane Regulator Do?

The purpose of a propane regulator is to control the flow of gas vapor from the tank to the burner tip. The regulator ensures safety by delivering over-pressure protection, usually by using a pressure relief device. This prevents leaks and high pressure, which can lead to fires and explosions.

03. What Kind of Propane Regulator Do I Need?

This depends on the kind of appliance you need the regulator for. For instance, you will need a different regulator for grills, fireplaces, stoves, and water heaters. Also, the kind of regulator will depend on the number of BTU/hr.

04. What Does Propane Look Like?

Propane is a colorless gas with a light but distinct smell. Most commercial propane is stored under pressure in tanks, in liquid form. Liquid propane looks like water; it is colorless and odorless.


Regulators are an important part of any propane-fueled system. A working regulator will allow you to use your appliances safely and properly. Knowing how to tell if propane regulator is bad will help get a replacement before it is too late. 

As a result, it is important to keep a lookout for the different symptoms that indicate malfunction. With all that being said, have you noticed any of these signs on your propane regulator?

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