How To Clean A Thermocouple On A Patio Heater

While using your patio heater to enjoy time outdoors during colder months, you will come across some troubles. This is where you should have a strong understanding of how to troubleshoot and fix the issue on your own.

Cleaning a patio heater thermocouple requires shutting off the fuel supply, removing the thermocouple from the pilot assembly and using a dry sponge or steel wool to clean accumulated debris and soot. A pencil eraser can be used for the hard to reach places but the use of cleaning chemicals should be avoided due to their flammability.

One of the most common issues that people get with their patio heaters is associated with the thermocouple. That’s why we thought of sharing a detailed guide on how to clean the thermocouple of your patio heater.

You can follow these steps and get the job done.

Patio heater thermocouple

Related Reading: How Does a Thermocouple Work on a Patio Heater?

What is the thermocouple in your patio heater? 

In every natural gas or propane patio heater, you can find a thermocouple. This is a safety device available within the product.

The main functionality of this thermocouple is to keep the furnace pilot of your patio heater lit at all times. The thermocouple is sending a small electric current into a sensor, which is located on the gas valve.

Along with this electric signal, the valve will remain open.

The thermocouple of your patio heater is made out of two different metals. Out of these two different metal options, one is subjected to heat.

Then a voltage will be generated. This process is called a Seebeck effect or a thermoelectric effect.

Along with time, this thermocouple is exposed to external environmental conditions. Certain patio heater models, like pyramid gas patio heaters, will have consistent exposure to outdoor elements.

As a result, it will get dirty. That’s where you will start facing issues with the patio heater. You can use patio heaters under a cover but with certain stipulations.

When you are facing such issues, it is important to understand how to clean the thermocouple. Keep on reading and you will be able to get a clear understanding about the cleaning procedure.

How a Thermocouple works for a Natural Gas Heater

What you need to clean a patio heater thermocouple 

Before you get started with the cleaning process, you will need to be equipped with appropriate items that are needed.

Some of the items that you would need to clean your patio heater include:

  • dry sponge
  • steel wool
  • screwdriver
  • pencil eraser. 

You can easily get these items and proceed with the cleaning job. No special tools are needed and there is often no need to contact an expert.

Steps to follow for cleaning a patio heater thermocouple 

Once you are ready with the tools, follow these steps and clean the thermocouple of your patio heater.

Below are some easy to follow steps. This is the most convenient method available for you to get the job done right.

  1. As the very first thing, you will need to shut off the fuel supply to the heater.
  2. Then you will be able to locate the thermocouple. You can take a look at the owner’s manual of your patio heater and get a clear understanding of the location of the thermocouple. 
  3. Now you need to take a screwdriver and loosen the screws around the thermostat.
  4. Once all screws are removed, you can take out the thermocouple. You can easily pull and remove it from the pilot assembly.
  5. Now you should take a dry sponge or steel wool.
  6. By using steel wool, you can gently rub the thermocouple. If you are using a dry sponge, you need to make sure that you are using the abrasive side of it. Otherwise, you will not be able to complete the cleaning process effectively.
  7. You should keep on cleaning until you remove all soot trapped in the thermocouple.
  8. Now you can take the pencil eraser and start to clean areas located in between the threads of the thermocouple screw. These are the areas where the thermocouple connects with the patio heater.

Now you are done with the cleaning.

You can go ahead and reattach the thermocouple within your patio heater. You can then check the functionality of your patio heater and see whether it is working fine.

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Want to reduce wear and tear on your patio heater? Consider using a patio heater cover to protect it from the elements like rain.

Last update on 2023-01-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Tips for cleaning the thermocouple of a patio heater

You should make sure that you don’t use any commercially available cleaning products. If you have a wall-mounted patio heater, give yourself some extra time to bring it down.

On the other hand, homemade cleaning solutions that you can prepare are not recommended to get the job done. If you use any cleaning products that have flammable chemicals, you will be taking a massive and unnecessary risk.

You should stick to the above-mentioned steps at all times and get the cleaning job done right the first time.

What would happen if the thermocouple fails? 

It is also better to have a clear understanding of what would happen to the functionality delivered out of your patio heater during a failure of the thermocouple.

Then you will be able to diagnose the patio heater problem in a straightforward way and go ahead with the fix on your own.

Thermocouple problems in patio heaters are not uncommon.

Most of the patio heater owners will come across this issue at any given point in time. The thermocouple of your patio heater has an inverted V shape. This thermocouple can be found on the light.

Main functionality of thermocouple is to ensure that appropriate supply of gas is retained while you are using patio heater.

If you notice that the pilot light is not retaining its perfect shape and condition, you will have to go ahead with cleaning the thermocouple.

Otherwise, you will not be able to get the desired functionality out of your patio heater.

How to Replace the Thermocouple for Patio Heater

Final words

As you can see, you will be able to clean the thermocouple of your patio heater on your own. There is no need to seek expert assistance to get the job done.

Make sure that you do this on a regular basis so that you can keep the patio heater functioning without giving any problems. 

After cleaning the thermocouple, inspect the surrounding area and make sure that there is no dust or dirt.

You should keep the surrounding area clean at all times and consider keeping it out of the rain to avoid wear and tear. You should not allow any space for insects to crawl near the thermocouple as well.

Continue Reading:

Buyer’s Guide For Patio Heaters With Wheels