RV Doctor – Weak Stove Burner Flame

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January 22, 2009

Dear RV Doctor,

I have a three-burner propane stove in my RV that seems to take longer and longer to perk a pot of coffee. I recently took a trip in a friend’s RV and noticed his propane stove perked coffee much faster. On inspection I noticed the flames on his burner were about 1-inch tall and were a nice two-tone blue. On my stove while the flames are blue they are only about 1/2-inch long. Is there something wrong with my burners? My incoming line? The tanks show a constant 150 pounds pressure with no leaks. Are there newer burners that burn hotter?

–Dan Keller, (Lacey, WA)


Dan, indeed the design of the burner head itself has a lot to do with the structure of the flame emitting from each port, but the BTU rating of each burner is determined by the orifice size at the burner valve itself. The larger the orifice, the more LP is allowed to pass through and into the mixing tube.

In today’s RV stove top, the mixing of air with the incoming LP is usually non-adjustable, so the only variance in the equation would be the delivery pressure of the LP. It is important to have the delivery line pressure checked annually at the very least. It should measure 11.0-inches of water column which is a very small amount of pressure. 11.0-inches equal four-tenths of one pound per square inch, (.4 PSI)! I’m guessing your LP pressure is lower than normal. That, coupled perhaps with an obstruction at the burner head itself, will result in a much smaller visible flame at the burner head. It’s time to have the pressure adjusted or at least checked.

Because the LP pressure is relatively slight, it can only be adjusted while monitoring and measuring with a manometer. Never attempt to adjust the pressure without using a manometer. Unless you’ve had specific training in the use of a manometer, I would suggest you make an appointment at your local RV service facility. It’s a quick and easy job to measure and adjust the LP pressure and at the same time, check the entire coach for LP leaks.

(Please feel free to comment, however, please also note that due to the volume of communications I receive from multiple channels I cannot guarantee a personal response in every instance. However, questions of an overall general interest may be considered and published in an upcoming RV Doctor column.)

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  1. cj1788

    Judy F, THANK YOU! We were having an issue with low burner flames (could only keep 1 burner on, if a 2nd was lit they both went out) and water heater issues. Read lots of blogs and comments and then saw your note about the CRIMPED Hose. Our stove is on a slide wall so we started playing with the slide and stove and sure enough, when the slide was in, the burners all stayed lit and large flames. As the slide went out, the flames decreased until they were out. We got under our unit and found the crimp in the hose line. Fixed the kink and we’re good as gold.

  2. I’ve seen that same problem before with the “crimped” hose. We had a low flame on both sides of our 2 burner propane camp stove and it only seemed to be getting worse as time went on. Because it was affecting both burners we assumed it had to be the regulator itself but after replacing it the problem still persisted. It was quite frustrating, but we eventually found that the propane hose itself was just being pinched. In this case, it wasn’t because the hose was too short, it was the way it has been installed. Lessons learned…

  3. Judy Fairbanks

    We have a 2009 Dutchmen Grand Junction and have dealt with this problem off and on for about a year. We even disconnected the screw on hoses to the tanks when we traveled down the road and then reconnected them when we parked. Each of these times the burners would work correctly again. This last time, they wouldn’t so we called a mobile RV technician. At first he thought it may be the regulator on the stove top. He fired up the furnace to see if the flame height lowered at all. It did not, so since we have a slide out on the outside hose connections of the slide he looked underneath and found that the hose going to the stove, (not the refrigerator) was CRIMPED. He said that some manufacturers don’t use a long enough hose to accommodate the slide. He uncrimped the hose and guess what? it worked immediately! He said these hoses have “memories” but over time it will relax. Hope this helps.

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  5. Pkunk

    Another alternative to taking it to an expensive and sometimes out of the way RV repair place is your local propane dealer. Most of them have a repair or installation tech and their primary concern is your safety.

  6. William Pelkey

    I do things that I know I can do. I know nothing about the propane system other than turning it on. Propane is very unforgiven. Spend some cash , have a pro look it over.

  7. JIM

    you check tire pressure with an air pressure gauge, you check propane pressure with a manometer. Mr. Bunzer is not saying anything technical, thats just the way it is, and the tools that are used.

  8. Dan and others,
    with the propane turned off at the tank. dismantle the stove on top and check the orifice at the mixing tube… it might be blocked. do not stick anything into the orifice as this might enlarge the hole and allow more propane to pass into the mixing tube resulting in a MUCH bigger fire than the stove was designed for.
    BUT ask yourself…. if fixing this problem yourself and would be worth creating a bigger problem, …or just part with some $ and let a shop assume the libality for the resualts, or just look out your window while the coffie is a cookin-whit

  9. Our motorhome has three burners. One is adjustable the other two are not. This might be part of the problem????

  10. Hi everyone this is my first responds to the RV Doctor I agree with jdfrances we want to fix our own stuff I,M very discusted with “RV REPAIR SHOPS ” thy never fix what you tell them thats why I log on to this Blog. Anyway you cant blame the doctor he has to PROTECT himself because you never khnow .
    Keep up the goog Advice .

  11. jdfrancis

    I don’t have a manometer, and I’m not sure if I could use it if I had one. How about practical advice about how to diagnoses the problem?

    Most of us aren’t techies. Please give us practical answers/solutions to our problems. Stop impressing us with your superior technical knowledge. We respect and admire you intellectual accomplishments, but what we want is information about how to get our system to work.