Patio heater won't stay lit? Here's how to fix it

Black patio heater stood next to a set of oak wooden outdoor furniture.
(Image credit: Getty)

Fed up with the cooler weather? If you want to transform your yard into a cozy winter space, a patio heater may be the solution you need. These devices extend the use of your garden so you can continue to entertain guests or simply relax as temperatures fall. 

But it can be frustrating if your patio heater won’t stay lit, which is more likely to occur if you have a propane heater. Despite being irritating to fix, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s usually straightforward to resolve. 

Here, we’ve asked an expert to talk you through what to do if your patio heater won’t stay lit. Learning basic troubleshooting skills means you don’t have to call it a night early because of the cold. 

If your patio heater is beyond repair, head to our guide to the best patio heaters (opens in new tab), including a range of freestanding, wall-mounted, and tabletop models. 

For now, let’s unpack what to do if your patio heater won’t stay lit.

What to do if your patio heater won’t stay lit 

Tara Spaulding sat on a sofa wearing a black turtleneck jumper holding a mug of coffee.
Tara Spaulding

Tara has worked as an Interior Design Coordinator since 2017 and consults for Patio Productions, focusing on outdoor design. 

“Patio heaters are a great way to beat the winter blues. With the right heater, you can keep warm and cozy while also enjoying the outdoors,” says Tara Spaulding, Interior Design Coordinator, and consultant for patioproductions.com (opens in new tab)

“If your patio heater won’t stay lit, there are a few things you can do to fix this problem. First, check the propane tank is full and that the tank valve is turned on. If not, fill the tank with propane and turn the valve back on,” advises Tara.

“Next, take a look at the pilot light. If it isn’t glowing bright orange or yellow, you may need to clean the fuel line. Remove the accumulated ash in the burner chamber and refill it with fresh fuel,” says Tara.

“If none of these steps work for you, you may have a faulty valve or thermocouple,” she adds. Try cleaning the thermocouple with light sandpaper. If that doesn’t work, you may need a replacement part. 

The wind is another common culprit for problems with your patio heater. That’s because it can blow out the flame. Heat reflectors can protect your device from gusts of wind if you’re in an exposed location. 

Prevention is better than cure. If you are planning to host guests, it’s worth checking your patio heater before they arrive to avoid the stress of it not staying lit. A top tip is to keep a spare fuel tank on hand to avoid being caught out.

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Louise Bond is a UK-based writer specializing in health and wellbeing. She has over eight years of experience in management within health and care and brings this passion and expertise to her writing. Louise has been published in The Guardian, Live Science, Fit & Well, Tom’s Guide, Planet Mindful, Breathe, and Psychreg. She is at her happiest when she is out in nature, whether that’s on an invigorating hike or pottering in the garden.

With contributions from