When home and business owners began extending the season with patio heaters, it’s not uncommon for a few not to light. Typically, there’s nothing wrong with the portable patio heater. Many times, it sat unused for months, and now you are circling back to create warming comfort rather than go indoors.
At AEI Corp, we hear the worried words “I can’t light my A270 heater” every year. The fact of the matter is that sometimes even the best LP heater requires repairs. However, more often than not, getting commercial or residential infrared heaters on track is simply a matter of following a series of procedural steps. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide for starting up patio heaters for restaurants, service industry businesses, and backyard patios.
Before You Call For Service: Follow These Easy Steps To Light Your Heater
It’s not unusual for everyday people to become concerned when a patio heater doesn’t light. You may have planned to open outdoor space or have a few friends over to grill burgers and steaks and enjoy each other’s company. The sinking feeling your plan is about derailed is often what leads people to promptly call for support. Before calling, let’s run through a checklist of minor issues that routinely trip portable patio heater owners up.
Is there sufficient propane gas in the tank?
A portable LP heater usually has the tank housed in the base. This is particularly true of the iconic mushroom head patio heaters. Consider disconnecting the tank and checking to see if it has propane in it. A full tank usually weighs about 40 pounds. You may need to refill it at a local gas station, supermarket, or another convenient location.
Is the tank turned on?
More than a few portable patio heater owners get turned around trying to remember which direction is on or off. When the knob is not in plain sight, this holds particularly true. Try it one way and then the other. And don’t be embarrassed. We all make this little faux pas.
Do you smell gas?
When patio heaters sit idle for long periods, the hoses can dry out and begin the leak. Check your hose by applying soapy water and look for any bubbles. If you see the telltale signs of a leak, order a new hose, and replace the old one before restarting the infrared heater.
Has the gas line been fully bled?
Sometimes the LP heater fuel hoses can accumulate air that makes lighting difficult. Consider bleeding the line by depressing the control knob in the pilot position for 90 seconds. It may be prudent to bleed the line with a fresh LP tank in place to ensure success.
Is the control knob turned to the pilot position?
The control knob must be depressed by about ¼ inch and in the pilot position. Any deviation will result in the patio heater failing to light.
Is the electronic igniter working properly?
One of the little caveats that trip people up is checking to see if the AA batteries are viable. They lose charge even when not used for a while. Try new batteries.
Can you see the pilot flame?
If the pilot flame doesn’t stay lit after the control knob has been released, you most likely have a fuel issue. It could be a leaky line or a low LP tank. Check the lines and tanks.
Once you have a consistent pilot flame, turn the control knob to the “ON” position. The burner flame should be a blue-orange color. If the flame appears more yellowish, you may have a blockage. At this juncture, you may need to have your patio heater repaired.
What To Do If Your Heater Still Doesn’t Light
Let’s say that you have run through the checklist and addressed the variables that could cause infrared patio heaters not to function properly. Here’s the thing. Plenty of people are either anxious or feel rushed when going through the steps. It may be worth taking a deep breath and recheck every item slowly and patiently. If you do this and your heater still doesn’t light or operate at full capacity, you may require one or more replacement parts. These are general ideas about how to determine whether you need a part and which one requires replacement.
- Fuel Tank: If the tank feels empty even though you recently had it filled, you may need a new one. Having a spare propane tank on hand is useful in case your tank runs out while you are using it. Propane tanks are easy to buy and/or refill at various businesses like gas stations and grocery stores.
- Gas Smell: If you smell gas when the knob is open, you may need a new fuel regulator or hose. Check the hose first because they can become brittle and crack over time. These are a common replacement item in patio heaters.
- Electronic Ignition: If you replaced the AA batteries and the matchless ignition still doesn’t work, it may need to be replaced. Of course, try a few batteries before spending money on the part. Old batteries seem to linger in drawers.
- Irregular Flame: If you have a lazy yellow or red flame instead of a blue-orange one, you may need to order a new burner, fuel regulator, or fuel hose. The color of the flame is a telltale sign of a properly burning patio heater. Noticing the color decline before the patio heater doesn’t deliver the warming comfort you desire can prevent loss of use.
Residential infrared heaters, as well as commercial patio heaters for restaurants and other businesses, are best served by storing them out of the blazing sun and heat during the offseason. Hot, dry temperatures tend to dry out hoses, which rank among the most commonly replaced outdoor heater parts. When storing your portable patio heater during the offseason, remember to disconnect the LP tank. If you can cover the model to prevent pests from infiltrating the heater, that can also prevent difficulty restarting it and the need for replacement parts. Portable patio heaters are made to withstand inclement weather, but offseason care can save you time, stress, and money on parts.
When To Call For Service
If you have run through the checklist of possible lighting impediments and the model still doesn’t light, it’s time to call your manufacturer. A consultation with a customer service professional may provide insight into lighting strategies. In many cases, a professional should be able to walk you through any further diagnostics on your heater.
That conversation may highlight where the problem is coming from and critical next steps. Parts such as hoses can be simple enough for a home or business owner to manage. Another alternative is enlisting the help of someone with heating unit skills to replace the part for you. In some cases, a full-service technician can be sent out to fix your patio heater so you can extend the season and enjoy fresh air on your patio. AEI Corp supplies a wide range of high-quality infrared patio heaters for homes and businesses.