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Brand new smoker failed Soapy Water test, could it be because of very cold weather?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by markusm, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    Title says it all pretty much. I just got a Masterbuilt extra wide propane smoker, and today I thought I'd go ahead and "pre-season" it. I looked in the manual to see what all I needed to do and it mentioned doing a leak test anytime you connect a new tank. It's a little embarrassing, but I've done tons of grilling and a decent amount of smoking on my propane grill, and it never even occurred to me to do the soapy water test... 

    The first thing I noticed was that it had bubbles forming around the connection to the tank just around the hole in the middle of the "nut". I took it off to check for contaminants and tried reconnecting it a few times, and even tried snugging it down some with channel lock pliers (not hard enough to break anything, but tight enough I couldn't loosen it by hand). Still had bubbles forming. Then I put some soapy water where the hose connects to the burner, and noticed it seemed to be leaking there as well. 

    I live in Oklahoma, and we just had a snow storm yesterday and last night. I'm not sure what the temperature was when I was messing with the smoker but right now, at almost 6pm, it's 19 degrees according to weather.com. The water was freezing on the ground and tank pretty fast, so it was definitely really cold and still below freezing. 

    Should I just wait and see if the problem goes away when it warms up some, or is it an indication that the assembly is defective? The regulator does seem a little wobbly after I tighten it onto the tank. Are these things known to come with shoddy regulator/hoses ? Or... is it just not a good idea to try to use the thing when it gets this cold?
  2. Hello Mark.  I don't really know how well those smokers are built as I don't own one but you must remember that metal does shrink to a degree when really cold.  Some of the seals don't respond well to cold.  Try bringing it all inside to the warm.  Make your connections when room temp except to the tank and then take outdoors and connect the tank while the regulator is still room temp. Hope this helps.

  3. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Dont let a poorly nade product limit when you use it. Masterbuilt hasn't got the best name lately when it cones to quality. You may consider using the thread sealant tape or compound and see if that fixes it. Otherwise take it back.
  4. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    Thanks for the replies. The metals etc... contracting is why I wondered if it might be the cold weather. As for poorly made products... there's really not much of a choice for me. I researched a lot of different smokers before buying this one, and this was one that had some of the best reviews. Pretty much every smoker I looked had had similar reviews complaining about cheap materials etc... But a few blogs I read pointed out the obvious... you get what you pay for, if you're only spending $200.00 on a smoker, it's not going to be made of high end materials. The majority of people that reviews this particular grill were happy with it, so I went for it.

    It seems to be pretty common knowledge that these cheap smokers will need some modifications, which I was expecting, just not this.. This isn't a problem I've seen in any negative reviews. 
  5. It shouldn't be leaking after doing those tests.  The whole unit is defective, contact Masterbuilt and see what they will do for you.  Do not light it, as a gas leak can do serious damage, and if it explodes, your insurance might not cover you, if your even around to argue with them.
  6. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Call Masterbuilt or take it back to where you bought it for exchange.  It's defective and not safe. 

    If you call Masterbuilt, they will probably send you a new regulator and hose assembly but it might take a week or two.  I would not use it if it's leaking.  If the gas catches fire and travels back to the fitting that could get ugly real fast.
  7. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I don't know why folks EXPECT things to be a problem just because they didn't spend big money. It should at least be able to do what it was made to do and do it safely. I'll never understand that.
  8. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Doesn't matter what the cost it should do what it is advertised to do.

  9. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    I agree it should do what it's supposed to. What I meant was people complaining about the thin metal, smoke leaking around the door, bad design of chip and water pan etc... Many people expect to have to mod the smokers to get it to work better or more efficiently, not just to work. Like I said, I don't think I've seen any complaints about the propane leaking or anything, just complaints about issues that you really can expect from buying "budget" models, like adding rope gasket to the door, using a cast iron skillet or something for wood pan, adding some kind of insulation, etc... 

    I'll try it again after it's warmed up (or I decide to lug it back in the house) and see if that fixes it. If nothing else I'll see if I can buy a better quality replacement regulator/hose for it, they aren't that much, and I really don't want to go through the hassle of returning it and starting all over. 
  10. gary s

    gary s SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I would be taking it back, you shouldn't have to wait on warm weather.

  11. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    Also... I know not to light it if it's leaking gas. 
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    If it's leaking around the "stem" on the PL nut, ( that's what screws into the valve on the tank ) then the sealing surface in the valve is leaking... In the new model tanks, that sealing surface is usually an o-ring...

  13. markusm

    markusm Fire Starter

    Yeah, on that part I'm wondering if the seal may need to just warm up. I pulled the tank right off my grill before connecting it to my smoker and later read that with the wind chill it was below zero at parts of the day. It may be the seal needs to warm up enough to "relax" the rubber so it will form to the other regulator. The other part that appeared to be leaking on the smoker may just need to be tightened, not sure yet, and I haven't felt like going out to my shed to take a look at it. The temp is supposed to get back up above freezing Tuesday, I'll probably see how it works then, and check it again when the temperatures drop if it does work fine. 
  14. dward51

    dward51 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good point about the o-ring and very low temps.  It may be too low for the o-ring to properly flex and form the normal seal. Take a hair dryer and warm the fitting if you think a frozen o-ring is the problem.  If it keeps leaking, I would not use it.

    Also you may not have to return the entire smoker.  Masterbuilt normally will mail a part such as a hose & regulator directly to the end user.

    Also as a side tip and another BBQ use for a hair dryer, if you ever have a LP tank that is overfilled and causing the LP regulator to ice over, a hair dryer can keep it from freezing until you can burn off some of the LP in the grill/smoker or whatever.  There is supposed to be a 20% unfilled area in the LP tank and normally the liquid fuel will flash over to a gas in this area of the tank.  Modern tanks are supposed to have a internal float that prevents overfilling.  But I have one tank that can still be slightly overfilled, apparently "just enough". If a LP tank is overfilled, you can get liquid LP into the regulator which causes the regular to ice up and block the flow to the grill inside the regulator (LP flashing to a gas at a lower pressure is an endothermic reaction and will "suck" the heat out of the air enough to cause moisture to freeze).  If your burner keeps going out right after filling the tank, check and see if the regulator is frosted over.  If it is, just use a hair dryer to keep the regulator body warm so you can then use the burner to burn off the excess LP. The regulator is the bigger silver metal disk shaped unit in the hose from the LP tank.