Homeowner » Tips and Advice » Take care with portable gas appliances

Take care with portable gas appliances

14 November 2018
carbon monoxide safety

We Kiwis love a road trip. If your plans this summer involve heading off with a caravan or in a motorhome, make sure that any gas appliances are in good working order before you leave home.

Campervan parked up with view of the sea

Don’t risk it!

If your caravan or motorhome has older fittings that haven’t been serviced for a while, get a licensed gasfitter in to check things out. 

Appliances wear out over time – plastic or rubber seals can deteriorate, pipes can become damaged or loose due to vehicle movement, parts can go missing and burner jets or vents can become clogged. 

Get into the habit of routinely checking:

  • Copper tubing for dents, kinks and/or corrosion, adequate fixings or clips
  • Hoses for signs of cracking, fraying, splitting or brittleness
  • Appliances for rust or corrosion
  • Vents and burners for obstruction 
  • Normal looking flame patterns when in use.

If your gas appliance is not functioning properly or leaking, this can lead to life-threatening situations.

Keep yourself safe

All gasfitting work on a caravan or motorhome must be carried out by a licensed gasfitter to ensure any alterations to existing fittings or new installations comply with the latest industry standards. 

Sort the pros from the cons and always ask to see the gasfitter’s current practising licence ID card. 

Current installation codes require all cookers, water or space heaters (and refrigerators) in caravans and motorhomes to be correctly installed, flued and ventilated. 

Modern room-sealed or balanced-flue installations take combustion air from outside the vehicle and ensure combustion products are not discharged inside your living/sleeping area. 

Once a new installation has been completed, get a Certificate of Compliance and a Gas Safety Certificate to show the work is compliant and safe to use. Keep records of when appliances have been serviced.

Use the right appliance

Cooking in campervan by the beach

Outdoor heating equipment or appliances must not be used indoors. They’re designed for open-air use and don’t have safety features to shut off the gas supply when oxygen levels are depleted in confined spaces.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a highly poisonous gas, produced by faulty or incorrectly used fuel-burning appliances such as gas heaters, cookers, lanterns and barbecues (gas and charcoal).

You can find out more about carbon monoxide here

Never use a portable cabinet heater from your house in your caravan – these are high capacity appliances which require greater air volume and ventilation than is available in most vehicles.

LPG appliance safety tips

Always follow the manufacturer’s health and safety instructions provided with your gas appliance. 


  • Never use an LPG appliance when a caravan/motorhome is travelling
  • Make sure all appliances and pilot burners are turned off when the towing vehicle or motorhome is being refuelled
  • Only turn on your LPG cylinder when you are about to use a gas appliance – and turn it off again when you have finished.

Apart from room-sealed appliances and refrigerators, never operate a gas appliance when occupants are sleeping. You’re particularly at risk when asleep because you won’t recognise the early symptoms of CO poisoning.

Handle cylinders with care

Portable gas cylinders restrained in campervan

By law, LPG cylinders must be tested every ten years. Check your cylinder for the date stamp which is normally found around the top or collar of the cylinder.

Keep your cylinder upright when in use or in storage. Laying a cylinder on its side creates a greater risk of LPG escaping to cause a fire and/or explosion hazard.

Cylinders should be kept in a suitable enclosure (like a locker) so any potential gas escape is vented externally and away from possible sources of ignition. 

Cylinders should be restrained so they don’t move around in transit.

When storing a caravan or motorhome, ensure all appliances are switched off and then turn off the cylinder valve.

Never attempt to repair or remove valves, or fill your own cylinder – leave it to a professional.

Gas appliances on boats

The same safety recommendations apply to gas appliances in boat cabins, with the added issue of corrosion from exposure to water and salt.  

LPG is heavier than air, so any leaking gas will collect in the lower bilge area of a boat creating a high hazard situation.

It is essential that specialist products developed for the marine environment are fitted by a licensed gasfitter.

What to do if you smell gas or feel sick

If you smell gas / suffer a headache / feel sick while using appliances:

  • turn off the cylinder valve (if it’s safe to do so)
  • get people out of the area
  • turn off all appliances 
  • open the windows and doors of your recreational vehicle

Don’t use any electrical devices, including switches and phones, until the air is clear or you are a safe distance away. 

In the event of an emergency, call the Emergency Services on 111. 

Not an emergency? Stop using the appliance and have it checked as soon as possible by a licensed gasfitter.

Find your nearest Master Gasfitter with our online search tool

Safe travels this summer!

Young woman bathed in golden sunlight in caravan

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