7 Common Patio Heater Problems and How to Best Fix Them

Simple fixes exist for common patio heater problems like no pilot light, frayed wiring, insect infestation, and low heat.

Repairing your patio heater is easy with a simple troubleshooting process and a little mechanical know-how.

On a warm summer evening, there’s nothing quite like relaxing with loved ones on your patio or deck without bundling up!

As the seasons change, we can’t help but want to be outside!

The cooler temperatures in the weeks before and after summer shouldn’t stop you from an evening outside.

One issue that many homeowners encounter with their patio heater is proper care.

The first step to troubleshooting problems with your patio heater is to diagnose the issue. Various factors can affect its efficient operation.

Luckily, most issues you’re dealing with come with a simple fix.

Repairs can be done without a professional once the issue is diagnosed correctly.

Troubleshooting can be a bit difficult if you aren’t sure what to look for.

Many patio heater owners struggle to diagnose issues but know something is wrong.

Your patio heater may need maintenance or repairs, even if the problem isn’t apparent.

Knowing how to identify common patio heater problems before attempting to fix them is helpful.

Man in uniform bent over fixing patio heater problems with tools

Related Reading: Why is My Patio Heater Igniter Not Clicking? [ANSWERED]

Common Patio Heater Problems and Easy Fixes

We have compiled a list of common patio heater issues that the user can easily address and resolve.

While these issues can definitely be a headache, they don’t necessarily mean the end of the line for your patio heater.

As long as you take care of regular maintenance and adequately look after your patio heater, it should last for years.

If you’re experiencing issues with your patio heater, there are a few common problems that you can easily fix by yourself.

However, there may be other problems that require the assistance of a professional who can take the necessary safety precautions.

If the issues you’re facing don’t match the signs listed below, it’s best to seek advice from an expert before attempting any repairs.

Remember, safety should always come first.

Several issues can cause problems with your patio heater.

Igniter Won’t Fire Up

One common way that gas patio heaters ignite is through an igniter.

Like a BBQ starter, an igniter sparks gas from the tank and ignites a controlled flame through the tube.

This controlled flame creates heat and warms the space around the patio heater.

If the gas tank is complete but the flame isn’t catching, the igniter may be the issue.

The best way to check for this issue is to use a lighter to create the flame.

If you can get the patio heater working with an outside source of flame, then the igniter is out and needs to be replaced.

Before removing your igniter, check to see if it’s producing any sparks. Remove the casing around the igniter and attempt to light the heater.

If no sparks occur, then your igniter needs replacement. Oftentimes, you can hear clicking as the igniter attempts to light.

How to fix a tall patio heater that won’t light (SOLVED)

Replacing your igniter is simple and can be done easily with just a couple of common tools.

Simply remove the nut attached to the igniter with a wrench and then detach the wiring with your hands.

Purchase a new igniter compatible with your patio heater and reattach it. It’s a simple fix, and you’ll have a functional heater quickly.

Related Reading: Replacing Patio Heater Parts: Discover the Best Options and Tips

Low Heat Levels

This is specific to gas heaters.

If your patio heater is electric and experiencing low heat, see the Faulty Electric Heater section below.

If your propane patio heater is not producing enough heat, there may be a gas leak in the system.

While this might not be much of a threat to your patio heater, gas leaks should always be handled with caution for your health and safety.

The first step to fixing this issue is to locate the kink or break in the gas line. This can be done by finding the spot where the gas line looks compromised.

Some line breaks need special care to locate an issue and should be done with a leak detection spray.

Some people have successfully sprayed soapy water on the line looking for bubbles. You should first try the tank cylinder valve, regulator outlet, or any other area with connections.

Once you’ve found the problem area in the line, it’s time to start repairs to build up the amount of gas being supplied.

This can be done by detaching the segment of the gas line damaged by a wrench and replacing it with a new one.

It’s essential to get the right size gas line. Otherwise, you might find yourself with a new leak or pressure failure.

The reduced heat results from a reduced gas supply. The undamaged line should restore total heating capacity.

Infestation of Bugs and Small Animals

It’s easy to overlook the possibility of bug and small animal infestations when it comes to your patio heater.

However, inspecting your patio heater’s structure for these pests is important before using it for the first time in the season.

Bugs may use it as a nest or cover it in webs when stored, especially outdoors.

It won’t be a pleasant experience if you use the heater while bugs cook inside.

Small animals will look for a warm place to stay when the weather is cold. In this case, the warm location may be your patio heater, especially after use.

If you notice signs of rodents or small animals nearby, checking your patio heater is a good idea.

Not only can rodents nest inside, but they also tend to chew on wires, causing significant damage.

Before using your patio heater, it pays to check for anything inside.

When bringing the heater out of storage for the season, it’s essential to cleanse for bugs and continually check for small animals.

There are limited spots in which they can get lodged, but it’s still better to be safe.

Faulty Electric Heater

Although electric patio heaters are convenient, fixing wiring issues can be challenging.

Gas and propane patio heaters have the advantage of most components being easy to access and fix.

Electric heaters that fail to ignite or shut off shortly after starting may indicate a faulty wire.

Look for frayed wires, corrosion, or broken lining, as these may indicate faulty wiring. Exposure to weather, rodents, birds, or extensive use can cause these.

Overuse can lead to damage to your wires, causing them to fray and eventually break.

One way to prevent damage to internal wiring is to bring your patio heater indoors when not in use. This protects it from the elements and enables you to use it longer.

Unfortunately, faulty wiring cannot be fixed at home and must be replaced.

I do not recommend doing the replacement yourself unless you are a trained electrician, as this could be pretty dangerous when done by an amateur.

If the wiring is done incorrectly, your heater might not work correctly or become a hazard.

Let a professional handle wiring issues on your electric patio heater.

The most effective approach to prevent this issue is to take proactive measures.

No Pilot Light

This issue may be noticeable in specific models, but locating it in others can be more challenging.

If you can see the pilot light when it is on, it is easy to tell whether it is functioning correctly or not. However, if you cannot see the pilot light, you may need to run some tests to determine if it is the cause of the problem.

The pilot light and igniter issues have the same solution. If the heater fails to light up, check the internal components.

After disassembling the heater to locate the igniter, test it to diagnose the issue.

If the igniter produces sparks but the flame still doesn’t light, the pilot light may be the issue.

This problem occurs when the gas supply to the pilot light is cut off, preventing it from remaining lit. If this is the case, it’s time to clear the line.

The pilot light’s gas line requires a narrow tool like tweezers, toothpicks, or needles.

  • Start by removing the screen and uncovering the ignition ensemble.
  • Remove the pilot light from the gas line; now you can see the clog.
  • Remove whatever is clogging the line and place everything back together.
  • If you cannot reach the clog, use compressed air to force the clog out.

Sizing Problems

This issue typically occurs when you’re trying to fix something else and purchase the wrong size part. For instance, say you need to replace your regulator, but the new one doesn’t fit.

If the regulator is the right one for the patio heater, the gas cylinder might be the wrong size. Either way, you’ll need to head back to the store.

This isn’t an issue you’ll notice out of the blue, but frustratingly, something that you’ve likely caused yourself.

Chances are a new patio heater will initially have all of the right parts installed. Otherwise, it wouldn’t work in the first place.

If you receive a faulty patio heater with improperly sized parts, it is best to return it and request a refund. This is because there may be other issues that could arise due to improper manufacturing.

If you purchase the wrong size part, you must return it and purchase the correct one for your model.

It’s essential to avoid shoving a part that doesn’t fit into your patio heater. Doing so can create future problems and be a recipe for disaster, even though it may seem like a quick fix.

Loose Connections

Sometimes, the answer is as simple as a loose bolt or connection.

This can occur when moving the patio heater or placing a new propane tank in the bottom. Sometimes, bolts can just get rattled and come loose over time.

Fixing this problem is as simple as locating the loose connection and tightening it.

You likely won’t have to search for a professional to come out and help you deal with this issue.

However, finding a loose connection can be more challenging than you might think.

One easy way to combat this obstacle is to note what is being affected. Once you know the problem, you’ll better know where to look.

Check for weak ignition, and examine wiring and gas lines for heat issues.

Once you’ve found the area where a loose connection might be, it becomes much easier to find the faulty connection.

You can use a wrench or sometimes just your hand to adjust the connection and get everything working again.

Sometimes, loose connections are the problem, and other times, they lead to the issue’s root.

You might find yourself fixing a connection tied to a deeper problem plaguing you with patio heater problems.

What might start as a loose gas line could show you a crack in the line you otherwise might have missed.

patio heater tile

Signs You Have Patio Heater Problems

When performing a routine check of your patio heater, keep an eye out for certain warning signs that could indicate an issue.

If a problem goes undetected, your patio heater could waste gas without producing nearly as much heat.

If issues persist, your patio heater may fail to ignite.

Let’s start with the obvious issues that a patio heater encounters.

If your patio heater won’t start, chances are there is something wrong.

This issue may be caused by either long-standing undetected problems or one of the listed issues that are preventing the ignition process from succeeding.

When a device operates for an unusually short period of time after being started, it could be a sign of an issue.

Some patio heaters are unable to remain lit for more than a few minutes due to the accumulation of issues.

The ignition process is one of the best ways to tell what’s wrong with the patio heater.

If you are able to light the heater using an external source like a lighter or match, but it won’t light on its own, it’s likely that the igniter needs to be replaced.

If your heater ignites effortlessly and remains on as long as there is gas, but the flame is noticeably smaller and/or produces less heat, it is more likely a leak in the system.

Be vigilant for these signs, which become easy to spot once you know what to look for.

Patio heaters require proper maintenance to avoid costly replacements.

Using Your Patio Heater Safely

After repairing your patio heater, always prioritize safety. The key to a long-lasting patio heater is proper care.

Owners of patio heaters can compromise either the heater or the space around it.


It can be tempting to keep your patio heater on throughout the day, providing warmth for outdoor gatherings even after the sun sets.

However, if it starts to rain, it might be time to end the party and turn off the patio heater.

It is always recommended to cover and protect your patio heater from rain and other harsh weather conditions to ensure its longevity and proper functioning.

It can be easily compromised, requiring you to fix it once more.

If rain starts while the heater is still hot, move it under an overhang. If the heater hasn’t been used for a while, cover it.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Use

Many homeowners who work in their garages believe that patio heaters are an excellent option for heating up the space when the weather turns chilly.

Unfortunately, a patio heater may not be suitable for use in a garage or workspace.

There are various potential hazards in your garage that could result in injury or damage to property.

A spark from your work could ignite a propane heater, causing significant damage.

If you are working in an enclosed area, you should not use propane gas as it can be dangerous.

When using a patio heater, it’s important to avoid using it indoors due to the potential risks it poses.

Make sure to leave your patio heater outside and provide enough space for ventilation while it is in use.

Related Reading: Using Electric Patio Heaters Indoors: Best Insight

There are many opportunities to use your patio heater outdoors. Assuming there is proper ventilation, the patio heater is safe to use.

Patios and outdoor dining spaces are popular locations for patio heaters.

Finding the Right Patio Heater

Choosing the right patio heater depends on your specific situation.

Finding the perfect patio heater for your home should be decided before you start shopping, so that you can limit the number of heaters you need to research.

The first decision to make is whether to choose a propane or electric heater.

Each type of heater has its own unique benefits and drawbacks.


A helpful tip for purchasing a patio heater is to prioritize between cost, quality, and ease of use.

If you’re looking to keep costs low, a propane model may be best.


If you’re looking for simplicity, an electric heater may be best.


There are various types of patio heaters available from many manufacturers, each with its own level of quality. The quality of patio heaters will vary, and it won’t be based on their type.

Search reviews to find a patio heater that meets your needs.

Finding the perfect patio heater is easy with the right knowledge!

Final Thoughts

Routine maintenance is important for your patio heater’s longevity. Most common issues are easily detected and resolved.

It’s important to recognize your limitations, especially when it comes to complex repairs like electrical wiring that require the expertise of a professional.

If you have basic tools and follow this guide, you can fix most problems with your patio heater.

Enjoy living the outdoor life!