Keeping a patio heater lit is quite a challenge at times. We get calls all the time and you’d be surprised how often the solution is simple enough for home/business owners to handle. In this guide, we’ll attempt to save you a service call, but of course, we’re here to serve so in either capacity we’re glad to help!


Pilot Light Issues

We’re starting with the pilot light and thermocouple positioning. This is at the top of the list for a reason. Often pilot lights can move too far away from the thermocouple, therefore disabling the spark that ignites the patio heater. This is because the system’s thermocouple detects no pilot light and automatically shuts the heater down; a most useful safety mechanism as the gas would otherwise continue to release but not burn … need we say more?
thermal coupling FOR PATIO HEATER

Thermocouple Issues

Furthermore, especially here in sunny Palm Beach County, Florida, corrosion wreaks havoc on outdoor steel systems. The orifices can acquire a rusty build-up that diminishes the gas flow and therefore flame power. Thus, the thermocouple will turn off the patio heater as it tricks the gas value into thinking that the pilot light is out. Other potential causes are not having enough gas pressure or the pilot light/orifices are more restricted due to corrosion. Lastly, another simple cause is that a breeze is blowing just right and is blowing out the pilot light.



Thermocouple Adjustment

• Making sure the patio heater is “off”, sure a pair of pliers to gently squeeze the pilot light and the thermocouple a bit closer.
• To squeeze the pilot light and sensor-bulb together, remove the top of the heater and the front control panel that covers the pilot light and control knob. Then remove the bracket that holds the pilot light and thermocouple together to that you will get the best access. You may not need to disassemble it as much as you think, but you need to disassemble and very gently squeeze the pilot and thermocouple making sure not to crush it.

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Now, the pilot light will be very close to the sensor bulb and the patio heater will no longer shut off after a few minutes. Please see this video for reference. thermocouple repair video

Now About Carbon & Corrosion

As Patio Heater’s age, the Propane can begin to form a layer of Carbon around and or in the orifice. A simple solution is to use a toothpick to make sure you bore out the orifice to its unclogged state, and also use light sandpaper to sand off the outer coat of Carbon. This can clear things up considerably.

****Keep in mind we’re assuming you’ve checked to ensure your Propane Tank is on, and that it has gas.

Sometimes there is air in the gas line which is blocking propane from getting to the heater head unit. The solution for this is to purge the gas line. Open the gas line by turning the knob on the propane tank to fully open. Then depress the control knob for two to three minutes. Make sure all gas has cleared before attempted to ignite the patio heater.

Loose Connections & Fittings

Loose connections or fittings sometimes cause problems. Examine the regulator and make sure it’s tightly connected to the propane tank. You can also check the fittings out. The best way is to use soap/water and dowse the connection area; if you see bubbles there’s a leak.

Ignitors sometimes get worn out and fail. You can start your patio heater with a stick lighter. If the heater will ignite with a stick lighter then replace the worn ignition with a new ignition. Sometimes the gas pressure is simply too low; often this issue happens with BBQ Grills. See our post How To Reset a BBQ Grill Regulator.

Flame Is Too Low

Sometimes the heater will stay lit but the flame is too low. This could mean that the gas pressure is too low. When the outdoor temperature is less than 40 degrees F and the tank is less than one-quarter full a low flame will result. Furthermore, the problem may also be in the regulator. If the gas is on but there is no gas flow then replace the hose and regulator assembly.

If your propane tank is new you will need to purge the air from the gas lines. As described before opening the gas line by turning the knob on the propane tank to fully open. Then depress the control knob for two to three minutes. Make sure all gas has cleared before attempting to ignite the patio heater.

Another potential cause for a low flame is that the gas hose is kinked. Check the gas hose and straighten it. If the hose is damaged in any way then have it replaced.

There may also be a blockage in the burner assembly. In this case, clean the burner and emitter screen to clear any blockages. You can also, check the reflector to make sure there is no carbon build-up. If there is, then clean away the carbon.


We’ve worked on thousands of patio heaters, have a look at our latest job!

Authored By: Palm Beach Grill Center,
3351 N Federal Hwy Building B,
Delray Beach, FL 33483,
(561) 271-0454