Why Does My Fire Pit Smell Like Propane? TURN IT OFF NOW! Avoid an Explosion

close up of a propane tank connected to a yellow regulator

A fire pit in your patio or backyard can add a nice, romantic element to the scenery, especially during chilly nights. However, smelling a strong propane odor can ruin the moment; not only is the smell unpleasant, but it can be harmful to you, your family, and your property. What should you do?

The main reason why your fire pit smells like propane could be because of a gas leak. You shouldn’t smell a strong propane odor unless there’s a leak, which means you should turn the fire pit off immediately and call in a specialist. Please ensure the issue is resolved before turning it on again.

I will expound on this question and more in the rest of this article. I will explain how to tell apart the different smells that may come from your fire pit. Additionally, I will describe how to test for a leak and what to do in case you identify one. 

The Main Reason Why My Fire Pit Smells Like Propane

If you own a propane fire pit, you should expect to catch a whiff of propane once in a while, especially when you turn it on. However, if the smell persists and it’s pungent, there’s likely a problem with your fire pit.

A strong propane smell indicates that there is a potential defect causing some of the propane to leak at some point without burning. If the fire pit works perfectly, all the propane burns immediately, which is why you’re not supposed to smell anything. If something is blocking the propane from burning, some of it will leak, and you’ll smell it.

The harm that a gas leak can cause is considerable; just breathing it is dangerous, but most significantly, it can cause a fire or even an explosion. Any time you smell a strong and persistent propane odor coming from your fire pit, your first guess should be that there might be a leak somewhere, and you should act accordingly. Immediately.

What To Do if My Fire Pit Smells Like Propane

a multitude of different size propane and gas tanks used for fire pits against an explosive background

Once you’ve determined the reason for the strong propane odor coming from your fire pit, you should be quick to act. The longer you wait, the higher the chances that serious damage could result, or worse, someone could get hurt. A gas leak can have catastrophic consequences, so you must be fast.

The first thing to do is turn the flame off if it’s on and close the valve located on the propane tank. I can’t stress this enough; if you have the slightest suspicion that you might be dealing with a gas leak, turn everything off. It’s better to be safe than sorry in this situation.

After you turn the flame off, make sure there’s nothing else that can create a spark or potentially ignite the gas in some way. Avoid using matches, lighters, or even anything that uses electric current. The chances of ignition may be lower once you turn off the flame, but it doesn’t hurt to make sure.

Once you make sure there’s no immediate risk, call a specialist. There’s no point in troubleshooting if you’re unsure what’s wrong in the first place, especially if doing so poses a risk to you. A specialist will know what to do. All you need to do is call and explain the situation.

What Propane Smells Like 

Understandably, you would want to make sure you know what propane smells like, considering how dangerous it can be if not detected in time. If you’re not sure you’ve smelled propane before, you might need help recognizing the scent. 

You might be surprised to learn that the foul smell people associate with propane is actually added to the gas. Propane itself is odorless, but manufacturers put certain chemicals in it on purpose so that you can tell when there’s a leak. 

So what’s that smell? It’s an odorant, a chemical made of sulfur that has no other purpose but to make another chemical smell a certain way. Most people describe it as the smell of rotten eggs or sewers, pungent and unpleasant; it’s a smell that’s bad enough for you to notice.


What About Other Foul Smells Coming From My Fire Pit?

You shouldn’t worry every time you smell a strong odor coming off your fire pit. Sometimes there could be other reasons why you smell something unpleasant. In most cases, there’s usually no risk or reason to worry. 

Different smells that might come off your fire pit include:

  • Burnt materials. If you smell burnt plastic, it’s because an object made of plastic has ended up in or close to the fire pit and is releasing a strong odor. The same can be said for most materials; hair, wood or worse, rotten wood, perhaps paper burning, you name it. If it’s burning, you’ll find out.
  • Food. Particles of food left in the fire pit can burn quickly and give off unpleasant smells. 
  • Heat-resistant materials. Certain materials that you might use to line your fire pit emit particular odors when heated. This is normal and nothing to worry about.
  • Impurities collected over time. The more you use your fire pit, the higher the likelihood of debris, grease, and dust accumulating. At some point, these impurities are significant enough to emit a smell when you turn on the flame. This is normal, but make sure you clean your firepit once in a while.
  • New paint. Sometimes the paint inside a new fire pit might not be completely dry. Once you turn the flame on, it will start to smell. It’s advisable to keep the fire on and let the paint dry completely. You’ll smell particular chemicals, but it’s not a reason to worry.

Problems That Might Cause Propane Leaks in Your Fire Pit

A few issues can cause a propane leak in your fire pit. Some are avoidable and some less so, but it’s good to know what can cause a gas leak in your fire pit. 

Problems that might cause propane leaks include:

  • Connector issues. One of the connectors near the valve may be broken or not appropriately tightened, causing gas to escape.
  • Damaged pipes. The propane smell might be caused by gas leaking from a pipe that is worn out or damaged.
  • Cracks in the sealer. The insulation material used in fire pits might be of low quality, causing it to deteriorate or crack, thus allowing gas to escape.
  • Problems with the pressure regulator. The regulator that controls the flow of propane might get damaged over time.
  • Damaged burner. The burner at the bottom of the fire pit might get broken or worn out with time. 

It might be helpful to inspect all the components of your fire pit once in a while to help you detect possible causes of a gas leak — even before you start to smell the propane. If you want to test parts of the system to make sure they’re not letting any gas out, you can easily do it.

Here is a video that shows you how to test your fire pit for a potential gas leak: 


If your fire pit smells like propane, there’s a very high chance that there is a gas leak, which can cause an explosion. Once you smell the pungent odor of propane, turn the flame off immediately, close the tank valve, and call in a specialist.

It would be useful to learn how to identify the smell of propane and how to tell the difference between propane and other smells.

A gas leak can result from problems with the connectors, pipes, burner, etc. It’s essential to regularly check these parts and test them for leaks, if possible.

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