Just imagine. After a long week of hard work, you finally have some free time to yourself. You decide to relax in your favorite lawn chair in the backyard. But as soon as you go outside, you start to notice that it is a bit chilly.
So right away you go for the patio heater to save the day. But then you realize there is a slight problem. The propane heater will not stay lit.
This is a very common scenario for patio heater users. Guess what! This problem is fixable. Moreover, you can fix it by yourself. All you need is the proper knowledge, the right tools, and some determination.
If your patio heater will not stay lit, there could be a range of issues. A dirty thermocouple, faulty pilot light, or a loose gas valve could affect its performance. If you aren’t able to troubleshoot it yourself, call a professional to help diagnose the problem.
Before you start working on fixing the heater, there are a few tools that you need to gather. You can find these tools at your local hardware store or online. Here are some that we recommend:
- Screwdriver set (Our Pick: DEWALT Screwdriver Bit Set)
- Pliers or wrench (Our Pick: High Leverage Pliers or Channellock Adjustable Wrench )
- Detergent (Our Pick: Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent)
- Microfiber towel (Our Pick: AmazonBasics Microfiber Cleaning Cloth)
- Scrubbing Sponge (Our Pick: O-Cedar Multi-Use Scrunge Scrub Sponge)
- Soap Water (Our Pick: Chemical Guys Car Wash Soap and Shampoo)
- A water hose and water connection
5 Steps to Follow When Patio Heater Will Not Stay Lit
Step 1: Cover It Up
One of the most common issues with a patio heater staying lit is the placement. Keeping it out in the open can expose it to rigorous weather elements and cause long term damage.
If you notice the patio heater getting wet, put it inside of a canopy or sunshade. To protect it from wind, you can place it in front of a wind barrier, such as a tall wall. If the wind is too harsh, you should put it inside of a shed or a garage. Always place it inside when you are not using it.
Step 2: Clean the Pilot
If your patio heater still doesn’t work, then there might be an issue with the pilot. Spider webs, carbon, dirt, and oil can build up over time and cause the flame to burn out.
To solve this, you must follow these steps:
- Turn off the gas completely
- Soak the sponge in warm detergent water
- Gently wipe off the top of the heater with the sponge
- Use the microfiber towel to clean off any excess dirt or spider webs.
Wait about half an hour until everything fully dries. After that, turn it on and the heater should ignite perfectly.
Step 3: Clean the Thermocouple
Another common issue with a patio heater can be the thermocouple. The sole purpose of the thermocouple is to make sure the furnace pilot is always lit. When it senses heat from the pilot light, it sends a signal to the gas valve, allowing it to open. If the thermocouple gets too dirty, it can start to cause problems and interfere with the process. A simple solution is cleaning it.
How do you clean a patio heater thermocouple? Just follow these simple steps.
- Turn off the fuel supply
- Locate the protective flame screen and remove it
- Locate the thermocouple nut and unscrew it with a screwdriver
- Pull out your patio heater thermocouple
- Gently rinse the thermocouple with a water hose
- Let it air dry for about 30 minutes
- Reattach it
- If the patio heater still doesn’t work, move on to step 4
Taking care of the thermocouple is an important step in making sure your patio heater functions properly. Cleaning it out regularly should prevent problems in the future.
Step 4: Clean the Pilot Orifice
When the pilot orifice gets too clogged, it causes the flame to stop burning. As a result, the thermocouple doesn’t activate and the burner goes out.
Before you think of throwing it out completely, you may consider cleaning it first. This option can save you a lot of money. This may seem like a lot of work, but we have boiled it down to a few short steps:
- Shut off the gas connection.
- Use the screwdriver and start removing the burner shield screws, the top covering screws.
- Set those parts aside after removing them.
- Locate the control knob and remove it (just pull it straight off).
- See if there’s a panel behind the pulled-out knob. Remove it. You’ll see the gas valve assembly.
- Remove the bottom pilot light cover. As a result, your pilot light assembly bottom will get exposed.
- Locate the pilot assemble holding screw and remove it.
- Gently pull the gas line out of the pilot assembly housing.
- Remove the hex nut that connects the gas line to the pilot assembly. Now gently pull out the gas line.
- Reconnect the gas connection but remember to move it away from the ignitor.
- Replace the control knob temporarily and turn it to the ‘Pilot’ position. Push in the knob. Listen for a hissing sound. If you don’t hear anything there may be a problem with the gas valve.
- Remove the orifice or the pilot light tube from the mounting bracket.
- Blast some compressed air through the tube. Or use a single strand of wire and run it through the tube.
Put everything back together and test the patio heater again. If it doesn’t work, move on to step 5.
Step 5: Check for Loose Gas Valve
The gas valve is responsible for controlling the heater’s gas pressure. If it becomes loose, it may lead to a gas leak, which affects the patio heater’s overall performance. If this happens, you will want to reconnect the gas valve
In this step, you’ll use the wrench or pliers that I recommended earlier.
Use any tool you find comfortable to tighten the loose gas valve. If it is already too tight, then try loosening it a little bit.
I hope that these methods helped you fix your patio heater. Remember to take proper safety measures if you are going to fix it yourself. If you are still having problems after following this guide, you should contact a professional.
Your heater will be back in shape in no time. Best of luck.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes a thermocouple to fail?
If a thermocouple is continuously exposed to extreme weather conditions, it may eventually break down and need to be replaced. It may also fail if it is improperly sealed and too much oxygen seeps in. This is known as oxidation. Keeping it sealed airtight and indoors is the best way to preserve it.
How much does it cost to install a new thermocouple?
A thermocouple by itself usually cost $20, but if you want to have it installed professionally it can cost around $150.
Can you put a patio heater under a gazebo?
In most cases it is okay to use a patio heater under a gazebo, but it also depends big your gazebo is and whether it is open or closed. If it is open you should move it inside during extreme weather conditions to avoid damage.
Which is better gas or electric patio heater?
Electric patio heaters are better to use than gas because they are cheaper and more environment friendly. They also use less energy and tend to be much quieter.