How to Troubleshoot Patio Propane Heaters?


Patio heaters run on various energy sources. In terms of portability and heating prowess, propane-fueled ones are preferred by many. According to Top Pick Guide, however, not staying lit is the most common problem people encounter with propane patio heaters.

This article will talk about what causes the light of propane heaters to turn out and how each can be fixed. 

Going DIY vs. Hiring Professionals

Not all propane patio heaters are created the same. This is why some pieces of information provided here may not apply to you. 

In any case, you can always rely on professionals to help you with home repairs and home improvement projects. 

Finding reliable ones is easy as long as you know where to look. The yellow pages or home improvement websites, such as Houzz, are good places to start. 

In addition to those, you can also ask your inner circle for recommendations.

Reasons a Propane Heater Won’t Stay Lit and How to Fix Them.

Your problems with keeping your propane-powered patio heater lit could be due to any of the following reasons:

1. Pilot light issues.

The pilot light is the small blue flame that ignites the gas. Basically, when your patio heater is turned on, gas is released, and the pilot light ignites that gas. 

Therefore, the pilot light must stay lit for your heater to work.

Pilot lights go off due to poor ventilation, improper heater placement, dirt build-up, or a thermocouple issue (we’ll get to that later). 

Fire needs air to burn; however, a strong breeze can also put it off. When your propane patio heater is outdoors, make sure to place a wind barrier in front of it to keep the pilot light lit. 

If it is indoors, keep the area well-ventilated.

If this doesn’t work, check for dirt build-up around it due to soot and carbon residue. To do that, follow these steps:

  • Turn off the gas completely.
  • Locate your pilot assembly. You can easily do this by checking your owner’s manual. 
  • Using a screwdriver and wrench, disassemble the parts to access the pilot assembly. 
  • Loosen the screws and nuts that hold your pilot assembly in place.
  • Carefully pull out your pilot light. 
  • Remove the dirt around your pilot light and surrounding areas using a dry sponge or computer duster.
  • You can go all the way by carefully pulling out the thermocouple to clean it too.
  • Once you have everything cleaned up, put everything back together. 
  • Wait another 5 minutes or more before reigniting your pilot light. 
  • Patio Propane Heaters2

2. Thermocouple issues.

A thermocouple is your patio heater’s safety feature. It can detect when the pilot light is blown off. 

When it does, the thermocouple shuts the gas valve off to prevent gas leakage.

The pilot light won’t stay lit when the thermocouple is dirty or can’t get hot enough. The latter usually happens when it is too far from the pilot light or the pilot light is too low.

The thermocouple can be cleaned as you would the pilot light. So the following steps are what you should do to move the thermocouple and pilot light closer to each other.

  • Shut off the gas.
  • Access the pilot light and thermocouple. 
  • Using a pair of pliers, gently squeeze them together. Make sure not to crush the thermocouple. 
  • Reattach everything.

If this and cleaning the thermocouple doesn’t work, there may be issues with the gas or gas line.

Patio Propane Heaters1

3. Gas/Gas Line Issues.

Suppose your heater still won’t stay lit after checking the pilot light and the thermocouple. In that case, your propane tank may be empty, or your gas lines are clogged. If your heater is an old unit, your gas line may be damaged and in need of a replacement.

When you have run out of propane, you can easily have your tank refilled or replaced. It’s easy to check your tank’s propane level if you have a gauge. In case you don’t have one, you can find various video tutorials and how-to guides online. 

As for clogged gas lines, you’ll have to unclog and clean them as you would a pilot light and thermocouple. That is, you would need to get handy and open up your patio heater. 

Here are the instructions:

  • Completely shut off the gas. 
  • Disassemble your patio heater to expose the ignition assembly or pilot assembly. 
  • Locate the gas line and unscrew it.
  • Gently pull out the gas line to expose the pilot tube.
  • Clean the pilot tube using a small toothpick or a computer duster.
  • Put everything back to their usual placement.

Keep Warm on the Patio

Staying indoors for too long can take a toll on our mental and physical health. Based on this Time feature, it can cause anxiety and insomnia. 

So every once in a while, relax in your outdoor living areas. Keep warm using your newly-repaired propane patio heater. 

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