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9 Reasons Why Your Patio Heater Isn’t Lighting

9 Reasons Why Your Patio Heater Isn’t Lighting

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Spending a little time out in your backyard can do wonders for your mood and health. You can sit outdoors and take in the sun and the wonderful greenery that surrounds you.

Although, as winter comes around, it’ll be tough to stay in the backyard for more than a few minutes. That’s when patio heaters can come in handy.

These devices will warm up the outdoor area and allow you to enjoy it all year long. Yet, the gadgets aren’t perfect.

Like any other device, they’re prone to a few issues. For instance, sometimes you may find it difficult to light the gadget.

So, if you’re wondering why your patio heater isn’t lighting, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, I’ll walk you through all the possible culprits behind the issue.

I’ll also cover how to resolve these problems.

When Your Patio Heater Has No Pilot Light

There are quite a few reasons you may be having issues with lighting your patio heater. In this section, I’ll dive into some of the most common causes.

1 – Gas Tank Issues

When you notice that your patio heater isn’t lighting, the first thing you should check is the gas tank. More often than not, users will run out of fuel without realizing it.

So, right off the bat, see how much propane you have left. If you’re running low, all you have to do is replace it with a fresh tank.

After you do that, ensure the regulator is intact and securely in place.

2 – Type of Fuel

There are a couple of different fuel types you can use with a patio heater. The most popular is propane because it can reach high temperatures in a flash.

Moving on, butane is also common with patio heaters. This fuel burns much cleaner than propane and produces a similar amount of heat.

Yet, butane isn’t ideal for cold climates. That’s because it’ll turn to liquid as soon as the temperature drops.

Because of that, when it’s chilly outside, you won’t be able to ignite the fuel.

So, if you’re using butane, switching to propane should take care of the no-pilot light issue.

3 – Clogged Gas Hose

The gas hose is the hollow tube that delivers fuel from the tank to the burner. Sometimes, this pipe gets clogged after a long while of use.

That’s especially true if you disassemble your heater often to clean it.

So, you can try venting the gas hose to unclog it.

To do that, you can follow these simple steps:

  1. Turn the gas cylinder on.
  2. Set the gas knob to pilot and hold it for about 90 seconds.
  3. Turn the gas knob to full power and wait for no more than 10 seconds.
  4. Turn off the gas.
  5. Turn the gas knob to pilot and try to ignite it.

This should loosen up and expel any obstacles in the tube. While you complete the steps, make sure that you don’t move or shake the gas hose.

4 – Faulty Heater Connections

If your gas tank is full, yet there’s no pilot light, then it may be an issue with gas pressure.

You need to supply a patio heater with a constant supply of fuel. So, if there are any leaks in the connections, the pressure inside the device won’t be able to build up.

This will prevent the burner from lighting.

To address this issue, you have to check for leaks. Luckily, this process couldn’t be simpler.

All you need is a little soapy water and a spray bottle.

Start by ensuring that the safety control valve on the burner is in the off position. After that, spray the entire surface of your heater with soapy water.

Then, turn on the gas, but don’t light the burner.

If there are any leaks, you should see bubbles appearing on the surface of the device. In that case, you’ll need to grab a wrench and tighten the connections.

Yet, in some situations, you may have to replace certain parts altogether.

5 – Defective Valves

Every patio heater comes with an electromagnetic solenoid valve. This is the gate that controls the gas flow through the device.

Unfortunately, the component can degrade over time. That’s because frost and other weather phenomena can cause the part to lose its shape.

This will affect how much gas reaches your burner. So, you have to check the valve for any signs of wear and tear.

Keep an eye out for any scratches or dents in the structure. If you find any, the only way to resolve the problem is to replace the component.

6 – Blocked Burner

Another common reason you may be facing trouble lighting your heater is a blocked burner. To check for that, you’ll need to remove the flame emitter screen.

Once that’s done, inspect the burner and look for any signs of blockage. This may be dead leaves, insects, or even water droplets.

Plus, you may find a decent build-up of carbon around the outskirts of the burner.

The fastest way to resolve this issue is with a little elbow grease. Grab your favorite cleaner and a cloth and get to scrubbing.

After the area is clean, make sure you let it air dry for at least a couple of hours. Lastly, put the flame screen back in place and you’re ready to use the heater.

7 – Anti-Tilt Switch Issues

Most gas heaters will come with a tilt switch. This is a safety feature that will cut off gas flow if the device isn’t on a level surface.

Because of that, you need to ensure that you rest your heater on a flat, even area.

If you haven’t moved the device recently, then the problem may be a faulty tilt switch. Try replacing the component and see if that resolves your issue.

8 – Malfunctioning Ignition

The majority of newer patio heater models come with a piezoelectric igniter. This component can turn physical force into a spark that lights your fire.

So, when this component malfunctions, you won’t be able to start any flames.

Thankfully, there’s an easy test for this problem. All you have to do is grab a long wooden stick and light the tip of it on fire.

Then, turn on the gas flow of your heater and try to ignite the burner manually. Avoid using normal matches for this step.

Otherwise, you’ll be too close to the flames to stay safe.

If the heater lights instantly, then you need to replace the piezoelectric igniter.

9 – Dirty Thermocouple

A thermocouple sensor is a device that can measure temperature changes. As soon as you turn on the gas, the component will activate.

Then, you have a few seconds to light a fire. If the thermocouple doesn’t detect heat after the gas flows, it’ll turn off the fuel automatically.

This is a safety feature that ensures you don’t have free-flowing propane.

Sadly, if the component gets dirty, it won’t be able to read the temperature accurately. So, it may be cutting off your gas supply too early.

A quick fix for this problem is a little cleaning. Polish off the thermocouple and you should be able to light the heater.

Final Thoughts

There are a few reasons your patio heater isn’t lighting. For starters, it may be an issue with the gas tank or the type of fuel you’re using.

Other than that, the culprit can be a clogged gas hose or faulty heater connections. Plus, defective valves and blocked burners can lead to the same problem.

Finally, it’s a good idea to check the tilt witch, piezoelectric igniter, and thermocouple.


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