Propane Tank Top Heater Won't Stay Lit? (We Have A Fix)

Heather Robbins
by Heather Robbins

Propane tank top heaters are great, but they often have some common problems throughout their lifespan. If you own one of these, it’s going to be essential to know the steps to take in order to fix any issues that arise. But, what exactly are these common problems with this type of propane heater?

Tank top heaters typically have issues with the pilot light staying on (if your model has one), dirty or grime getting into the pilot, a faulty or dirty thermocouple, and also a dirty orifice. What it comes down to is keeping your tank top heater clean.

Below we talk about these in detail and give you pointers for each to help walk you through fixing your propane top heater issue. While it’s frustrating, it’s relatively easy to fix on your own. So take your time, and make sure you follow each step thoroughly.

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Before You Get Started

Although there are several processes that you may follow, having a few sets of useful equipment on hand is usually a good idea. It’s critical to have the right tools on hand when you need them most.

  • Screwdriver: Keep a screwdriver set in your pocket at all times.
  • Pliers: Having pliers on hand might assist you in removing tiny things that have been lodged in the heater.
  • Detergent Pack: If you want to clean any sections of the heater, all you need is a detergent package.
  • Water: You must be able to access water. This is why using a water hose to maintain a water connection is critical. If possible, choose soap water. This will make cleaning the heater much easier.
  • Sponge: A scrubbing sponge is an option. It’s soft, but it gets the job done.
  • Microfiber towel: Using a microfiber towel to dry the damp area would be beneficial. It will have no effect on the remaining areas.

The Most Effective Troubleshooting Techniques

Here are the most effective troubleshooting techniques for you to try if your tank top heater keeps shutting off.

1. Modifying The Setup

The location is primarily to blame for the problems you’re having. It’s time to move the propane heater to a new location because it won’t be able to function in the open any longer. Relocating the heater, on the other hand, will result in climatic changes. If you feel the need to move it, you may simply do so by putting it inside a canopy or a parasol. This will keep the heater from getting too hot.

You may shield the heater from the wind by erecting a wind barrier that will prevent any access. If the wind speed exceeds 40 mph, you should consider putting the heater inside a garage or a covered location.

2. Cleaning A Pilot

Another source of this problem might be the accumulation of debris within the heater. It becomes problematic when there is pollution in the water. As a result, the amount of pilot sediment accumulation in these locations increases.

It’s critical to keep the entire unit clean and maintain the propane heater’s interior specs. Here are some simple instructions for cleaning the pilot.

  • Turn off the gas supply. To begin the operation, switch off the patio heater’s gas supply. Before using, make sure the power cable is unplugged. By ensuring this step is followed first, it decreases the risk or likelihood of any accidents.
  • Prepare the unit for cleaning. The heater must then be prepared for cleaning. It’s okay if you can reach the heater. If you can’t, simply turn the heating down to a reasonable temperature. Then, it is lifted from the bottom and placed safely on the floor.
  • Scrub the surface. To clean the interior, use a sponge soaked in detergent water to scrub the surface. Now touch lightly on the top of the heater and wipe slowly, which will help you get quick results. You don’t want to wipe too quick, or it won’t pull all of the yucky muck off.
  • Pat it dry. It’s critical to keep the heater fully dry once it’s been cleaned. To clear the webs and dirt that has developed, pat it back with a microfiber towel. Make certain that every portion of the heater is clean and safe to use.
Is A Pilot Light Outage Dangerous?

Overall, a pilot light going out doesn’t typically affect the safety of anyone who is around the unit. However, that doesn’t mean that there is absolutely no risk of danger when the light does go out.

If the gas valve the supplies the pilot light is still on, then your tank may still be putting gas through to the lines. This can cause the gas to build up around it, which can result in a significant explosion if you decide to re-light the pilot light. Therefore, it’s a great idea to turn the gas entirely off in light of the pilot going out.

Does Gas leak If The Pilot Light Goes Out?

There will be no gas leak if the pilot light on a storage or instantaneous hot water heater, space heater, or ducted heater goes out. This is due to the fact that all current gas appliances with pilot lights include a fail-safe mechanism that shuts off the gas supply to the appliance if the pilot goes out.

3. Thermocouple Cleaning

If cleaning the heater does not solve the problem, the thermocouple is the source of the problem. To be fair, every thermocouple should last at least 4 to 5 years before needing to be replaced. Still, if you’re having trouble with the pilot light and your heater isn’t too old, you may clean it using the procedures listed below.

  • Set up everything you need. Prepare yourself by putting on gloves and turning off the heating altogether. To clean up the thermocouple, make sure you’re working on a dry surface.
  • Find the location of the thermocouple. The next step is to maintain the work area free of obstructions. To do so, you must first find the thermocouple’s location. You may now remove the screws holding it in place and clean up the area.
  • Put the thermocouple in a safe location. The thermocouple is now totally free to use. The thermocouple may be removed and rinsed using a water hose. Make sure the thermocouple is stored in a safe and secure location where you will have quick access to it.
  • Dry the heater. It is critical to preserve the thermocouple in a dry environment before reinstalling it in its original location. No air blower should be used to dry the thermocouple. To dry the heater, simply place it outside in the sun.
  • Reattach the thermocouple. You can reattach the thermocouple to its original location after it has dried. Remember to screw the thermostat back in place so that it sits correctly. Surely, the pilot light should be turned on at this point.
How Do You Know If You Have A Bad Thermocouple?

If you can’t get the flame to burn at all, even when the gas is turned on, there is most likely a blockage in the pilot tube. When you release the gas control knob after holding it in for the required 20 to 30 seconds, the flame will ignite and then go out, indicating a thermocouple problem.

Can I Replace A Thermocouple Myself?

It is simple to change, and a new one costs between $5 and $10. In addition, it’s easier to remove the entire burner and thermocouple assembly rather than trying to unfasten the thermocouple within the water heater’s burning chamber. Afterward, it is then necessary to remove the three nuts holding the gas tubes and the thermocouple to the valve.

4. Patio Heater Orifice Cleaning

So, even if you aren’t aware of it, the orifice of your heater may be more susceptible to such issues. It is entirely free to use on a regular basis and allows you to have quick and simple access to your heater. You can easily complete the tasks shown below.

  • Begin by turning off the electricity. Next, remove any sort of power supply by plugging out the adaptor and then separate the pieces.
  • Take off the knob and look behind it for the panel. The pilot knob cover is located here. You can easily remove this by locating the screw.
  • Remove the gas knob and wipe it well with the microfiber cloth provided. Before turning on the heater again, remember to replace the spare components in their original positions.

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Wrapping It Up

Propane top tank heaters are great and very easy to use; however, they do have their fair share of issues. Therefore, it’s vital that you take the steps in this article to check and see what the problem is in the event that your heater won’t stay on.

While the cause of this is typically not dangerous, there is always that chance that it may be. Therefore, it is worth looking into to ensure the problem is solved immediately. You can do this on your own and do not need a professional to do it. However, if you are hesitant because you are unsure of what you’re doing, then it may be a good idea to hire a professional in that case.

Heather Robbins
Heather Robbins

Heather is a passionate writer who loves anything DIY. Growing up, she learned everything from home repairs to design, and wants to share her tips with you. When she's not writing, she's usually hiking or searching for her next DIY project.

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