Some of the most common issues with propane heaters stem from their regulators. They operate and shift independently with the burners so that they can direct the heat toward the fans.
These regulators or controls are relatively sensitive to manage the warmth within a room. Malfunctions are rare and indiscreet, and they are rooted mainly within the gas or ignition system.
Some of the most common issues include a clogged gas pipe, a flickering standing pilot, and the sparking system to ignite the flame on the pilot.
Conventionally the repairs may appear daunting, but they aren’t.
Understanding How Propane Heaters Work
When the thermostat is turned up, a small electrical signal is transferred from the gas valve to the heater, which prompts it to be open and pass on a stream of gas to the burner where it ignites the pilot.
The temperature continues to rise until the moment when it reaches a state where the thermostat’s value becomes equivalent to the room temperature.
As time passes by, and the room temperature begins to fall again, the gas valve opens again to send down another stream of gas to light up the burner against to match the preset value. However, during the entire process, the pilot needs to be kept lit throughout this time so that it can light up the main burner.
This may result in a lot of gas wastage as well, but since the pilot must keep on running mode, it may also be one of the most significant contributors to clogged gas pipes.
Common Issues with Propane Heaters
The pilot is more often visible in the propane heaters. You can see it through the window or find it under the gas control knob. It’s usually black or blue and not more than an inch and a half. If the flame is too small, or it is multicolored (like orange and yellow), or split, then the gas pipe needs some cleaning.
This usually shouldn’t be that difficult. You can do it on your own by turning off the gas supply altogether, and then poking a needle into the tip of the pilot tube. This should clear the gas tube, at least temporarily.
If there are issues with the pilot, i.e., it is not able to stay lit up continuously, it may be because there’s a draft. If not, then there’s an issue with the thermocouple, and it might need to be changed.
Troubleshooting The Thermocouple
The thermocouple is quite like a thermostat, except that it is mainly used as a heat-sensitive device to control and regulate the gas flow, making sure that it is not wasted. When the pilot is lit up, the thermocouple ensures that a steady stream of gas flows through the gas up if it is hot enough.
If the pilot is too far away from the flame, it won’t get hot enough, and consequently, it won’t stay lit up for an extended period. You can control this by pushing the thermocouple closer to the pilot. If this does not help, you might have to replace it.
You can do this by unclipping the bulb, then unscrewing the wire from the gas valve, and then installing a new one by doing the same process in the reverse order.
Issues with Electric Spark
There’s usually a blower in absolute propane heaters. You would hear a clicking sound whenever the blower switches on. That’s how you can identify an electronic spark mechanism heater.
You can sneak through the window into the burner chamber to notice the spark. In case there’s no spark, there may be problems with the connection to the ignitor. You can refer to the user manual provided with the heater to look into the electrical connection diagram.
There may be a possibility that the gas might have run out from the cylinder, or it is shut off. However, if that’s not the case, then there’s a possibility that the aperture of the gas valve is clogged and may require some cleaning.
The Pilot Doesn’t Light Up.
There may be instances when the pilot doesn’t light up even though the gas supply is delivering, and the electric spark is working fine as well. There’s a high likelihood that dust might have accumulated inside the propane heater, which prevents it from lighting and warming the cold room during harsh weather.
This indicates that there is a need for thorough cleaning of the propane heater to keep the heater lit and avoid the hassle of the lighting process.
Step 1: Turn Off the Gas Supply
Start with closing the supply completely. Give it some time to cool and then proceed with clearing off the dust from the external surfaces with a soft cloth. Also, vacuum the debris from the vent holes and inside the grid of the heater.
Step 2: Use a Brush to Clean
Use a small paintbrush (or even an old toothbrush) to remove dust from clogged surfaces. Shove the dirt gently from the ignitor and the burner on the heater.
Step 3: Cleaning the Heater’s Cover Panel
Unscrew the heater’s cover panel from the top. Brush the dirt from the committee, including its internal boards. Rinse it with warm water and leave it to dry.
Step 4: Vacuum the Internal parts
With a small vacuum, gently clean the dirt from the [arts inside the propane heater and brush the dust from the oxygen sensor near the line tubing.
Step 5: Putting Everything Back
Replace the parts to their original state and tighten up the screws. If required, refer to the manual for assistance regarding the unique placements of the elements. Finally, turn on the propane gas supply and light up the heater as usual.
Issues With The Thermostat
Under some circumstances, the propane heater may run indefinitely, guzzling up all the gas and delivering little heat. This is likely because of the thermostat, which may have issues with identifying the right temperature and adjusting to it.
Try insulating the room by covering up the crevices and wedges near the borders. Make sure that you invest some resources in identifying and making your room “eco-friendlier.” If this doesn’t work, you might have to change the thermostat in your propane heater.
Make it a habit to check and replace the battery in your thermostat every 6 months or so.
Troubleshooting Propane Patio Heaters
Propane patio heaters deliver excellent service when it comes to outdoor heating. It’s ideal for small, closed spaces like lawns or terraces, and is composed of nothing more than a few simple components connected.
Amongst the most common issues that you’ll face is the lack of heat, and this might be because it’s mostly kept outdoors. But in case it doesn’t seem to deliver the way it used to, then you may need to do a simple check with a set of steps.
As with everything else, they may have issues from time to time. Unless it’s significant damage to the heater itself, most of the problems can be resolved by yourself.
All you need is a little know-how about the heater itself and how to fix things when things go haywire. We’ll take you through some of the most common issues and how to overcome them.
- Check the sensor device: If the propane heater senses a defective flame, it may trigger the safety functions and shut off. Ensure that the sensor is ⅔ covered by the flame, or try wiping it with sandpaper.
- Clean the pilot tube: Most propane heater problems stem from a malfunctioning pilot. If the pilot is flickering, split, small, orange, or yellow-colored, the pilot tube needs to be cleaned. Turn off the gas and use a needle to gently poke into the top of the pilot tube.
- Eliminate drafts: A draft could cause problems with the propane heater pilot. Find and eliminate the source of the draft.
- Check the electronic spark mechanism: If the propane heater sparks but will not light, the electronic spark mechanism may be the cause. Look for a spark in the burner chamber when the blower switches on. If you don’t see one, get an electrical diagram of the unit and locate the underlying cause.
- Check the gas cylinder: If the propane heater still won’t stay lit, the gas cylinder may be empty or shut off. Check the gas valve carefully and clean it with a needle if necessary.
#1 Issue with the Tank
If you reside in a cold part of the world, there is a possibility that your propane gas tank might freeze during the season. In case you notice that your patio heater is freezing up, then you need to be sure that the tank is level. If this doesn’t solve the problem, then you might need to get a new propane tank.
The tank may also be out of order in case the pilot doesn’t light up. There is a possibility there may be a leak in your tank. Alternatively, the pilot may be clogged.
You can try poking the needle into the nozzle of the pilot to ensure that nothing is blocking the pathway. But before doing that, also make sure that the cylinder valve isn’t completely closed. If it is, make sure that it is not opened completely.
Close the valve entirely if you are attempting to clean the pilot nozzle. Once it’s done, try lighting up the heater manually. If it works, there might be an issue with the ignition system.
To get this fixed, consider getting it repaired, or better yet, getting it replaced altogether.
#2 Issues with Lighting Up the Pilot
There can be two significant issues with lighting the pilot in a propane heater: the pilot may light up temporarily or not at all.
In case the light lights up but blows off almost immediately, there is an indication that the propane gas cylinder has leakage or there’s a malfunction in the tank. It could also mean that the burner is clogged.
If that’s the case, you’ll need to ensure that the cylinder is working well and is filled up almost two-thirds of the way.
If you use your heater rarely, then there is a high chance that bugs and spiders may make their way into your pilot assembly, causing an issue with the lighting up of the pilot. A common symptom of this issue may be the pilot blowing off right after it has been lit for a while.
Finally, make sure that all the connections are tight, especially the one between the pilot assembly and the gas valve. If they are, you might want to do a quick leakage check after they have been tightened up. Better yet, clean up the pilot assembly for the best results.
#3 Issues with the Flame Burner
The flame burner is one of the pivotal parts of the heater as they contribute to the most significant amount of heat that is produced. However, if you feel that it’s low, it is an indicator of the gas pressure.
Check the valve for gas pressure, which is being delivered. If that seems okay, check whether any of the pipes or hose is kinked or bent in any way. If everything looks okay, then it might be time to get a new cylinder. Turn the valve to the ‘off’ position, and then replace it with a new one.
#4 The Fan is Not Running
- Check the inspection window of the blower compartment on the furnace.
- If the green light is flashing, move to the next tip.
- If the red light is on or there’s no light at all, it may indicate a problem with the transformer, the control board, the blower motor, or the run capacitor.
- If the green light is on, check the breaker, but do not reset it until a professional has repaired any loose wiring or burn spots on the control board.
#5 The blower Does Not Turn Off
- Check the thermostat to see if the fan is set to “on” continuously. If it is, change it to “auto”.
- If the fan still won’t turn off, the control switch on the fan may need to be replaced.
#6 Furnace Turns On and Off Too Often
- Check the air filter and thermostat. Replace the air filter if it’s dirty and set the thermostat to “auto” if it’s on “high” or “continuous”.
- If the issue persists, contact your furnace repair company to diagnose and fix the problem, which may be related to the belt, blower motor, or other components.
Prevention & Safety Tips
Propane heaters are great to have. They have been around for quite some time and would stay for at least a couple of decades. You can use Propane Patio heaters outdoors and use regular ones indoors to keep your space warm. However, as with all household items, a propane heater can be a lifesaver but demands a lot of attention and care.
You must dedicate some time to its maintenance and care at least every season to keep it up and running. The more you take ownership and responsibility for it, the more chances that it won’t let you down when you need it the most. Check the propane tank regularly.
Make sure that you close the gas supply every time you attempt to clean the system. Make sure you burn it occasionally, even when it’s not too cold, just to ensure that it’s up and running. If required, get new parts to replace the old and corroded ones.
Schedule regular maintenance by a trained professional before the start of each winter season to detect and address concerns before they become serious issues.
Change the air filter regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
These maintenance tasks will reduce the chance of furnace problems and save you money in the long run.
Moreover, you may not even need an external professional or a specialist to clean up the propane heater all on your own. But in case this is your first attempt at cleaning the radiator, then you do it under the supervision of a specialist or an expert. Also, make sure that all the components are tightly fitted and that there is no gas leakage throughout the system.
If you smell propane while running your heater, switch off the gas supply immediately and allow enough exhaust into the room or your location of the propane heater.
We are pretty sure that these tips would help you to sustain and retain your propane heater for a very long time to come. Make sure that you manage your propane heater so that it helps you serve a lot of barbeques for years.
Thanks for explaining the thermostat values. I need to get a new tank for my grill. I think I ran out of gas yesterday.
Thanks so much for talking about the symptoms that mean your heater has an issue. My partner and I are worried that our heater might be working very well and we want it to get up and working before it snows. We’ll have to look into calling a professional down to help us repair the issue.