Having a patio heater in your backyard not only makes it more visually appealing, it can also keep you warm. In the winter especially, it will make sitting outside much more pleasant. However, if your patio heater stops working, it can be a major inconvenience and may cost you time or money.
The question is, what makes a patio heater stop working? Is it the fuel, the pipes, or the gas burner itself? Luckily I have found the answers to these questions and compiled them in this easy to read article. So without further ado, let’s dive into the complete guide on patio heater troubleshooting.
What Are The Most Common Problems of A Patio Heater?
Before we prescribe the solutions, we should be aware of the problems, right? So, let’s have a look at the list of most common problems that occur in a patio heater.
- Patio heater doesn’t stay lit.
- The patio heater flame is too low.
- The patio heater bug screen is blocking the flame.
- Gas transmission is not taking place in the patio heater.
- Patio heater flame is blinking on a regular basis.
If these are the problems that you are dealing with, we’ve got it all covered in the next section. Keep reading.
5 Sources of Patio Heater Problems
There are several problems that might take place in your patio heater. Most of them are common issues that you can easily solve. These are the 5 sources of problems that you may be experiencing.
Source 1: Low Gas Level
As you know, the patio heater runs of gas as its fuel. Just like many other gas-driven things, patio heaters won’t work if the gas level is low or empty. So, whenever you find a problem with the patio heater (especially when it stops working), the first thing you might look up to is the gas level.
To find the gas level indicator, you have to look at the base of the heater and take out the gas cylinder. Usually, a cylinder which is full or even half full weighs quite heavy.
In case you feel the weight of the cylinder very low, your patio heater might need a gas refill. Even if a small amount of gasoline is remaining, you need to refill that anyway. As a matter of fact, a minimum amount of gas is always required to keep the negative pressure up and drive the gas burner.
Source 2: The Gas Regulator is Turned “Off”
There is a gas regulator in your patio heater which has the duty of connecting the gas tank and the gas pipe. This process allows the gas to flow up to the gas burner.
If you turn the regulator off, the patio heater will stop working altogether. If this happens, check out the flip switch on the gas regulator. It’s located on the top of the cylinder. If it’s switched towards the ‘Off’ position, make sure that you turn it back to ‘On’.
Source 3: Blocked Gas Pipe
The gas pipe is the main gateway from the gasoline cylinder to the gas burner. If it gets blocked, the gas flow will hinder and as a direct impact, the patio heater won’t work effectively.
To check that out, remove the gas pipe from the regulator and also detach the other end of the pipe from the gas inlet.
Now, blow some air with an air blower or air compressor and make sure that there is no more of the blockage in the path of the pipe. Once done, put it back into its position over again.
Source 4: Unclean Gas Burner
The next thing on the podium is the gas burner itself. In fact, it’s one of the most occupied parts of the entire patio heater setup. So, there is a good chance that it might get into trouble over regular use.
To check that out, disassemble the burner and check for any kind of blockage. Also, another thing to check is the burner aperture. If you don’t set it correctly, that might also cause problems with the patio heater.
Once done with the basic checking of the burner, check out the small chamber of the burner where gas and air are mixed up. There can be some sort of build-up dirt on that chamber. And if you notice some, make sure to clean it properly.
However, dealing with the burner is one of the most complicated tasks of patio heater troubleshooting. So, you need to know how those delicate parts of a burner work. Also, make sure to maintain these few safety concerns while dealing with a patio heater burner:
- Make sure you turn the gas off when not in use.
- Take the gaslight mantle off.
- Beware of pressure while running pipe cleaners through the burner hole.
Source 5: The Bug Screen
For each of the patio heaters, there is a screen that prevents the bugs (that fly towards the flame) from entering into the heater core itself. But sometimes, if you don’t clean the bug screen for a long time, this might occur a blockage to the flow of the flame. It may also smother the flame anyway.
However, the fix to this problem is pretty simple. All you need to do is to clean off the bug screen and put it back on its place over again. For that, you need to remove the screen in the first place. Now, take an air blower and bow the basic dirt and dead insects off the bug screen. Once done, do a deep washing of the bug screen with a quick wash.
Finally, dry off the bug screen properly and put it back in its place.
After Fixing: Follow Safe Use Practices
Once you’ve fixed the problem causing the symptoms, continue to use your patio heater safely. After all, the more TLC you give the heater, the longer it lasts and the better it works!
Most models come with safety features like anti-tilt devices, thermocouples, CSA safety ratings, and no naked flames. However, you should also consider:
- Placement — As lovely as it would be, patio heaters aren’t meant to intensely heat over long distances. Only the items and people nearby feel the heat. However, if you place it too close to materials such as propane tanks or lighter fluid, it presents a fire hazard. Make sure you place the patio heater roughly three feet away from combustibles.
- Surroundings — Patio heaters are only made for outdoor areas. You need to ensure that it has enough clearance (i.e., room) and adequate ventilation. Consider whether your outdoor space is obstructed by water tanks, buildings, or other air-flow-reducing structures. Don’t put it directly on grass or over anything.
- Fuel Safety — Upright patio heaters usually use propane and natural gas. Take care when handling tanks to minimize damages and leaks. Propane patio heaters are typically portable. To keep it safe, ensure you close the gas tank’s valve when you turn it off.
- Protection from Weather — Protect your patio heater from wind by anchoring it or putting it in a less-exposed area. Wind impacts the efficiency of the heater, so you’ll end up burning more fuel if you’re not careful. If it rains, turning it off is the best option. If it is about to rain, cover the heater immediately to protect it. Conversely, put a compatible cover over it if you haven’t used it for a while and the weather turns.
Preventative Care and Maintenance Steps
You can fix the 5 most common patio heater problems, and you know what safety measures to take. But, before you go and enjoy your newly working heater, it’s worth taking a moment to discover the preventative care and maintenance steps you can take to stop the issues from arising again.
The three main steps are as follows:
Disassembly should be part of your regular maintenance schedule. It’s the perfect time to check for debris and blockages. To do this, disconnect the gas line and take off the cover. Of course, follow the instructions for your particular model! Usually, you’ll need to unscrew the cover and gently remove. Make sure you take any debris out of the venturi tubes at the back of the burner too.
2. Regular Cleaning
Clean the emitter using soap, water, and a soft scouring pad. Ensure your burner is never wet. Simply use a Q-tip with a spot of rubbing alcohol to clean away any residue or grease.
To put everything back together, reattach the components in the reverse order. If you’re a gas line novice, we recommend calling a professional.
Hopefully this has helped you to clear up the patio heater troubleshooting process. If you get overwhelmed, remember to take your time and read the manual. Otherwise, call up an expert.
Alice Carroll says
Thanks for the reminder that I will have to be mindful of gas levels when using patio heaters. I’m interested in buying one for my outdoor patio soon because I like spending my time there reading books in the afternoon. Perhaps with a heater, I will be able to do that even during the colder days of the latter months of the year.