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A gas grill with a propane tank

Sizzling meat, tangy marinades, fresh-cut grass, a freshly-cracked beer. All of these are the smells of a fantastic day of cooking outside.

But what if you smell gas?

Even when you’re using a propane grill, smelling gas is not a normal part of grilling. Typically, this smell means that the gas is somehow escaping during its journey from your propane tank to your grill’s burners.

While leaking gas is a serious concern, the causes are typically easy to determine and straightforward to solve.

In this article, we’ll walk you through all of the reasons why you may smell gas while grilling, how to troubleshoot the cause, and, in a few cases, how you can solve those issues on your own.

Whether you’re reading this guide for future reference or you’re actively dealing with the smell of gas while grilling (if this is the case, go turn your grill and propane tank off before proceeding!), we’ll arm you with all of the information you need to nip this problem in the bud.

Key Takeaways

  • Safety First: Immediately turn off the gas supply to prevent potential accidents. This is the first and most crucial step when detecting a gas smell.

  • Investigate and Address: Use a soapy water solution to identify leaks, tighten connections, or replace damaged parts as necessary to resolve the issue.

  • Regular Maintenance and Professional Help: Perform regular checks and maintenance on your grill to prevent future leaks, and don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance for complex issues.

Should You Smell Propane While Grilling?

Alright, let’s get one thing straight: smelling propane when you’re in the middle of your grilling masterpiece is not part of the recipe.

You should not smell propane while you’re grilling.

You may smell a bit of the artificial odor manufacturers add to the naturally scent-free propane as you fire up your grill, but that smell should go away pretty quickly.

If you do smell gas while you’re grilling, we’ve got a little situation brewing. That lingering scent isn’t just crashing your barbecue; it’s waving a red flag, signaling something’s amiss in grill town.

Reasons You May Smell Gas When Grilling

The Unnoticed Leak | Wear and Tear | Curious Wildlife | The Eager Ignition | Lingering Scents

Encountering a gas smell during your grill session isn’t exactly the secret ingredient you were hoping to add to your barbecue.

While smelling gas while you’re grilling should be a concern, it doesn’t automatically mean there’s an emergency or damage to your grill or propane tank.

You may smell gas while first starting your grill before the propane ignites.

That artificial odor added to propane may also be more noticeable as your propane tank runs low since the additive is naturally heavier than propane and will be more concentrated near the bottom of the tank.

If your tank is filled, your grill has been running for a while, and you’re still smelling gas, it’s likely due to one of two reasons.

First, there’s a chance your fuel line is not connected correctly, allowing some gas to escape. It’s also possible that you have a gas leak caused by a damaged or old fuel line.

I break down the reasons below for why the smell of gas might be making an appearance at your grill out.

The Unnoticed Leak

First on our detective list is the classic case of the unnoticed leak. It’s like that small drip under the sink you’ve been ignoring, hoping it’ll fix itself.

Your grill’s connections and hoses might have loosened over time, allowing gas to escape.

A quick check and tighten might just be the fix you need, proving sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

Wear and Tear

Then there’s the grill that’s been through more seasons than your favorite outdoor chair.

Time can take its toll, leading to wear and tear that whispers, “Maybe it’s time for an update.”

Like an old car that starts with a peculiar noise, your grill might be signaling for a little TLC or a retirement plan.

Curious Wildlife

Don’t forget about our curious critter friends. Animals, curious and bold, might see your grill’s hoses as chew toys or nesting spots.

It’s a gentle reminder that your grill is more popular than you thought, attracting a crowd beyond your guest list.

Here is a helpful guide for discouraging unwanted guests: How do I keep wildlife or pets away from my grill?

The Eager Ignition

Sometimes, the excitement of firing up the grill can lead to turning on the gas too soon.

This premature action can cause gas to accumulate before it’s ignited, lingering around your grill area. Patience is a virtue, especially when grilling.

Lingering Scents

Lastly, there’s the chance that what you’re smelling isn’t a current gas leak but the remnants of previous grilling adventures.

Sometimes, odors stick around, giving the illusion of a present problem. It’s like the scent of a campfire on your clothes long after the flames have gone out – a reminder of good times, albeit a bit misleading in this context.

Discovering a gas smell as you’re about to showcase your grilling skills isn’t ideal. Whether it’s a simple fix or a hint that your grill has seen better days, it’s worth taking a moment to investigate.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Grill Has a Gas Leak?

If your grill is producing a persistent propane smell and you suspect it’s due to a gas leak, your first step should always be to shut off your grill and make sure your propane tank’s valve is turned off.

Keep your tank and grill outside in a well-ventilated area, and do not attempt to relight your grill or light anything else with an open flame in the area around your grill.

Below, we break down the steps you should take if you suspect your grill has a gas leak.

Step 1: Shut It Down

First Things First: Don’t Panic!

Turn off the gas at the source. Whether you’re using a propane tank or natural gas line, cutting off the supply is your first line of defense.

This isn’t just about saving your eyebrows; it’s about preventing a potential backyard blaze.

Step 2: Soap It Up

Here’s where we play detective. Mix a bit of dish soap with water and apply it to the gas line and connections.

Turn the gas on just a tad (with the grill still off, please). See any bubbles forming? That’s your leak. Mark the spot, turn off the gas again, and let’s move on. More on this in a minute.

Step 3: Tighten Up

Sometimes, the issue is just a loose connection as we mentioned above. Grab a wrench and give those fittings a gentle but firm tighten.

Don’t go full Hulk on them; we’re aiming for secure, not stripped. If you marked a leaky spot earlier, pay extra attention to that area.

Step 4: Replacement Time

Found a hose looking more cracked than a dried-up riverbed? Or maybe the connections have seen better days? It’s probably time for a replacement.

Head to your local hardware store with the old parts to find the perfect match.

Step 5: The Professional Touch

If you’ve tightened, replaced, and soap-tested but that gas smell lingers, it’s time to call in the pros.

There’s no shame in it. Sometimes, the issue is beyond the grill and lies with the gas supply. Better safe than sorry, as they say.

How to Check Your Grill for a Gas Leak or Loose Hose

To check your grill for a gas leak, first, make sure all of the grill’s control knobs and the propane tank are turned off.

Visually inspect all of the grill’s hoses, keeping an eye out for signs of damage such as cracking, holes, tears, or abrasions.

Your hoses should all be tightly connected as well, with no kinks or bends in them.

While you’re doing your visual inspection, take a look at the tank — rust, bulges, dents, corrosion, and punctures are all signs that the tank itself is damaged and could be the source of the leak.

Next, mix up a concoction of half water and half dish soap, and either put it in a spray bottle or in a container you can dip a brush in. When you have that ready, turn your propane tank valve on to send gas through the system.

Spray or brush the mixture onto your gas tank, valve, hose, and regulator. Wait a moment, then take a close look at all of the places where you applied your solution.

If there’s a gas leak in any of the parts, small soap bubbles will start to form. No bubbles? Congratulations, you don’t have a gas leak!

If bubbles do form, shut your propane tank off immediately. If the bubbles are on the tank, meaning there’s damage or a leak in the tank itself, contact a gas supplier or your local fire department, as a leaking, pressurized tank can be a serious safety concern.

If the bubbles show up on the hose or the regulator, it’s likely there’s some damage or fault in the part. The good news is these are easily replaceable!

Consult your user manual to see the type of part you’ll need for replacement, and follow their instructions for installation once you have it.

Here is a more comprehensive guide if you are interested: How to Test Your Grill for a Gas Leak and Enjoy Safe Outdoor Grilling

What to Do if You Smell Gas but Your Grill Won’t Light?

If you smell gas, but your grill won’t light, your burner may be damaged or clogged.

To check this, turn your grill off and disconnect your propane tank from your grill. Leave the lid to your grill open to let it air out for a minute.

Once your grill is clear of gas, remove your grates and flavorizer bars, if you have them, and take a look at the burners underneath. Check the tubes and ports for any debris, grease, dirt, or insects.

If you do see debris, clean it out with a specialty grill tool or bottle brush. You may even want to remove the burners entirely to wash them down with warm water and dish soap.

While you’re doing this, it’s worth it to take a look at your igniter electrode as well since this can also get gunked up with grease, drippings, and marinades. When it’s dirty, carbon can build up and prevent your grill from igniting.

Soak a cotton ball in a bit of rubbing alcohol to clean the tip of the electrode.

If your igniter uses a battery, check that as well — your battery may have simply run out.

If you spot any frayed wires, they could also be the culprit in your grill refusing to light, and they need to be replaced before you can use your grill again.

Should Your Gas Grill Be Hissing?

No, your gas grill should not be hissing. If you hear a hissing sound, turn your grill off immediately.

If you’re grilling on a sunny, hot day, it could be due to the propane in the tank heating up and expanding causing the tank’s pressure release valve to trigger. The hissing you’re hearing is that pressure is slowly being released, preventing your tank from exploding.

If that’s the case, do not try to close the valve. Let it do its job until the pressure is back to a safe level. You can help speed this process along by dousing your tank with some cool water from your garden hose.

If it’s not hot and sunny, or the hissing sound continues, you may have a leak. In this case, disconnect the propane tank and place it somewhere outside with good ventilation to empty out.

Once it’s empty (you won’t hear the hissing anymore!), return it to the store for a replacement. Whatever you do, do not put a leaking propane tank into your car to try to take it back!

Gas Grill Safety and Leak Prevention Tips

Now that we’ve tackled the immediate crisis, let’s talk about safety tips and prevention.

To avoid potential gas leaks, there are a few safety tips every grill enthusiast should follow.

First, never use your grill in an enclosed area like a garage or screened-in patio. It can cause a lethal build-up of carbon monoxide, and increase the risk of property damage and injury to others if your grill does have a leak and it ignites.

Instead, place your grill on steady, level ground (no grass or uneven surfaces) away from anything combustible like fences, railings, sidings, awnings, and anything with combustible fumes like paint.

Make sure your grill is at least three feet away from your home’s doors and windows and 10 feet away from air intake devices. This prevents propane vapor from seeping inside of your home.

Never leave a lit grill unattended — be sure you have all of the supplies you need on hand before grilling, including a fire extinguisher.

When you’re done cooking, always make sure all of your grill’s control knobs and the propane tank’s valve are turned off.

Regular maintenance is the secret sauce to a long-lasting grill. Check those connections and hoses before each grilling season and after any major weather events. Your grill will thank you with years of loyal service.

Check out this helpful article: Are Gas Grills Safe? – A Look Into Their Safety and Best Practices

Grill Smells Like Gas FAQs

Still have some burning questions when it comes to smelling gas from, your gas grill? Check out these frequently asked questions!

How Do I Know if My Grill Is Leaking Gas?

To tell if your grill is leaking gas, prepare a solution that’s half water and half liquid dish soap and place it in a dish or a spray bottle. Spray or brush your mixture with a sponge onto the tank, valve, regulator, and hose. Once the mixture is on, look for bubbles to form.

Can I Use My Grill if It Smells Like Gas but I Can't Find a Leak?

As tempting as it might be, it’s a hard no, you can’t use your grill if it smells like gas but you can’t find a leak. If there’s a smell, there’s a reason. Keep it off and seek professional help.

How Often Should I Check My Grill for Gas Leaks?

You should check your grill for gas leaks at the start of the grilling season and after any significant moving or storage changes. And, of course, anytime you smell gas.

Can a Gas Leak Be Too Small to Detect With the Soap Test?

It’s rare, but yes a gas leak be too small to detect with the soap test. If you suspect a leak but can’t find it, professional help is your best bet.

What to Do if Your Grill Smells Like Gas: Final Thoughts

If you smell gas from your grill, addressing it quickly is crucial. But there’s no need to panic!

When in doubt, turn your grill and your gas off at the source, and make sure the area around your grill is well-ventilated and clear.

Following the troubleshooting steps above will help you discover what’s causing the gas smell so you can fix the issue or call for professional help as soon as possible.

Before you know it, the smell of gas will clear out, and you’ll be right back to a great day of grilling.

Cheers,

Emily

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DisclosureAt The Grilling Life, I am committed to researching and writing thoughtful, informative and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your outdoor cooking needs.  If you like what I do, you can support me through my chosen links, which earn me a commission.  This allows me to continue sharing with you my love for all things barbecue.  Your support is truly appreciated.

Emily Lord

I’m a Wisconsin-based freelance writer and home cook who loves hosting parties and expressing my love for my family and friends through homemade meals and baked goods.

I blame Iron Chef and Chopped for my competitiveness in the kitchen.

In my free time, I occasionally run marathons as an excuse to eat more good food.