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Patio Heater Troubleshooting Guide for Common Problems

Patio Heater Troubleshooting Guide for Common Problems

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So, your patio heater isn’t working properly, huh? Well, that can be a problem, especially since the weather is getting cooler.

Patio heaters are prone to many issues that can stop them from working, just like any appliance.

Don’t fret! You can still enjoy warm and cozy evenings outside.

Whether you have an electric or a gas heater, we’ll help you fix it with our patio heater troubleshooting guide.

It’s also worth mentioning that most issues are easy to fix! That said, let’s dive into the details right away.

Patio Heater Troubleshooting

Before we tell you how to fix your patio heater, you need to understand the following repairs might be slightly different from one brand to the other.

In addition, it’s always best to check out the manufacturer’s instructions before troubleshooting any part of the patio heater.

That said, let’s check out some of the most common malfunctions and how to fix them.

1 – Patio Heater Won’t Stay Lit

Having your patio heater constantly turned off can be an annoying problem. Luckily, there are many ways you can troubleshoot this issue.

Step 1: Check Propane Levels

If you’re running out of propane, your patio heater won’t stay on for long. You’ll also notice that the flame is becoming weak. That means it’s time to replace the propane tank.

In general, we highly recommend getting a backup tank during winter. So, you won’t have to run in the middle of a cozy evening to get a propane tank!

Step 2: Check the Thermocouple Position

The thermocouple is a metal device that detects the heat from your patio heater. You can think of it as a safety component.

If the heater is on and the thermocouple doesn’t detect heat, it’ll turn off the device to avoid gas leaks.

However, the thermocouple might simply be a little far from the pilot light. So, it won’t detect heat, and it’ll turn off your patio heater.

You can fix this by turning off the heater and using pliers to move the thermocouple closer to the pilot light. Ideally, you want the flame to come in contact with the thermocouple.

Step 3: Clean the Thermocouple

Generally, soot and dirt tend to accumulate on the thermocouple.

Even the smallest amount of dirt on the thermocouple might lead to a malfunction. Luckily, the thermocouple is easy to clean.

Here’s how to do so:

  1. First, remove the heater’s lid.
  2. Second, remove any protective housing on the top of the heater.
  3. After that, use a screwdriver to detach the thermocouple.
  4. Next, clean any dirt or soot on the thermocouple using steel wool.
  5. Then, reinstall the thermocouple, the housing, and the lid.
  6. Finally, wait a few minutes before turning on your patio heater.

Step 4: Reposition Your Patio Heater

In some cases, wind can extinguish your patio heater. So, we recommend moving your heater to another place away from the wind.

You can also block the wind with a curtain or heavy furniture.

Step 5: Tighten Connections

If repositioning your heater didn’t fix the issue, you might have a loose connection. So, you should check and tighten all the connections between the tank and the heater.

Step 6: Make Sure Your Heater Isn’t Leaking

Aside from being dangerous, any leak in the gas can cause your heater to not work properly.

To test for leaks, mix some dish soap with water. Then, apply the mixture along the gas line and any pipe connected to the propane tank.

After that, turn on the gas and observe the gas line. If you see any bubbles, that means there’s a leak in this area.

Step 7: Check the Regulator

A loose regulator can cause more issues than you can think of. Luckily, there’s an easy fix for this issue.

First, you’ll need to uninstall any components necessary to access the regulator. Second, use a standard wrench to tighten the connection with the fuel line.

That can also be a good time to check the regulator for any signs of damage to ensure it doesn’t need a replacement.

2 – The Igniter Won’t Fire Up the Heater

Most gas patio heaters contain a spark igniter, which ignites the pilot light to make the heater work. However, these igniters might fail over time.

Here’s how to check if the igniter isn’t working properly:

Use a screwdriver to remove any screws holding the screen around the pilot. You’ll find the spark igniter, the thermocouple, and the pilot tube.

After that, you’ll need to check the ignition switch for a spark. If the igniter doesn’t make any sparks, it needs a replacement.

Replace the Spark Igniter

Before buying a new igniter, make sure it’s compatible with your heater’s model. You can always contact the manufacturer for more help on compatible igniters.

When it comes to replacing the spark igniter, you’ll need to detach it using a wrench. It’ll be secured to the ignition assembly by a single retainer nut.

You’ll also find that it’s connected to the ignition switch wiring with a push-in connector, but you can easily detach the connector by hand.

After removing the old spark igniter, you can easily install your new one by reversing the process.

  1. Control Knob Stuck

The control knob on your patio heater might malfunction just like any mechanical part. Mainly, it happens due to the accumulation of dirt and debris, but you also might have a faulty control valve.

Here’s how to fix this issue:

Step 1: Clean the Control Knob

Cleaning the control knob can fix the issue in most cases. You can do so by using a damp cloth to wipe any dirt or debris away from the knob.

You can also apply a small amount of silicon lubricant to make the valve smoother. If the knob remains stuck, you might need to replace it.

Step 2: Replace the Control Knob

After finding a compatible control knob, you can easily replace your old one in no time. To do this, you simply need to pull out the old control valve and install the new one.

In many patio heaters, you won’t even need any special tools to do this.

3 – Reduced Heat Output

So, your patio heater isn’t producing enough heat, huh? Don’t fret! You can fix this issue by cleaning the main parts of the heater.

Here’s how to do so:

Step 1: Clean the Heating Element

To clean the heating element, you’ll need to uninstall the emitter screen and any parts that cover it. Then, use compressed air to blow off any accumulated dust or dirt.

It’s worth mentioning that the heating element should remain dry all the time. So, you should avoid using a damp cloth to clean it.

Step 2: Clean the Emitter Screen

The emitter screen can collect a lot of dust and debris, which can reduce the heat output.

You can use a pipe cleaner or a straw brush to clean the screen. Again, avoid using a damp cloth to clean it.

Electric Patio Heater Troubleshooting

If you have an electric patio heater that’s not working properly, there’s no need to worry! Electric patio heaters are easier to fix than traditional ones.

Here’s what to do when your electric heater isn’t working:

Step 1: Check the Power Cord

Your heater’s power cord is prone to damage, just like any cable you use around the house. A damaged cable can lead to an unpowered or intermittently powered heater.

The problem with the latter situation is that it can cause your patio heater to short circuit. It can also lead to permanent damage.

Not only that, but a damaged cord means there’ll be an increased risk of sparks, which can cause an electrical fire in your home.

Therefore, the power cord should be the first thing to check. If there’s any damage to the cord, you should replace it as soon as possible.

Step 2: Try Another Socket

Wall outlets are prone to many problems that can cause them to malfunction, especially outdoor ones.

To ensure your socket isn’t the problem, you can try plugging another electronic device into it.

You can also plug the heater into another socket.

Step 3: Check the Thermostat

Many electric patio heaters have thermostats, which are prone to malfunction due to many reasons.

In most brands, you’ll find a knob to control the thermostat. Make sure to turn the knob or the thermostat controller to the highest temperature. Then, check if your patio heater is working.

If not, you might need to reset your patio heater. You can always check the instructions manual to learn how to reset your heater.

Step 4: Check the Heater

If your patio heater is still not working, you need to check the heating element, which is the component that converts electricity into heat.

To test the heating element, you’ll need a multimeter that measures resistance. Use the multimeter to check the resistance at both ends of the heating element.

Ideally, the reading should be between 10 and 100 ohms.

If the reading is outside this range, this means the heating component is damaged. In that case, it’s best to contact the manufacturer or a professional technician.

Final Thoughts

We hope our patio heater troubleshooting guide helped you fix the issue. If you’re still having any problems with your patio heater, we recommend contacting the manufacturer or a professional technician.


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