Does your patio heater have no gas flow? Something inside the unit could be malfunctioning, and this might be why.

Let’s face it, a patio heater that has no gas flow is like a car without tires. It sure looks nice, but, for all purposes, it’s useless.

Now, unless you’re planning on repurposing your appliance as an expensive doorstop, you’re likely looking for answers. The problem is that diagnosing this malfunction can be a little tricky, so you’ve probably found none so far.

I’ve been where you are, and felt just like you do right now. Frustrated and puzzled. Patio heaters look simple on the outside, but once you look inside them, you quickly learn that they’re quite the opposite.

Lucky for you, I learned a thing or two when my unit failed, and now, it’s time for me to share my findings to help you.

Below, you will find a list with the most common causes behind this occurrence, and the simplest steps you can take to address each one of them. Rest assured that, if you follow them to a tee, your appliance’s gas flow will be restored shortly.

Sounds good? Let’s get busy!

Fixing a Malfunctioning Patio Heater

I know how tempting it can be to start looking for culprits inside your heater, but sometimes, these malfunctions are our own fault.

The odds of you experiencing this issue due to poor maintenance or neglect, are just as high as those originating from a mechanical component acting up. It is very important that we do not jump to conclusions or start tampering with your patio heater unnecessarily.

#1 A dirty pilot

Make sure to give your pilot proper maintenance

This is what I was talking about a little earlier. Failing to give your appliance proper cleaning and maintenance can result in compromised gas flow.

If you’ve let your pilot become dirty or obstructed, it could be having trouble passing gas through it, and lighting your flame. This could also result in excessive pressure on your propane tank, and eventual malfunction of the entire heater.

I know it’s counterintuitive to think that a part that is not in contact with the outside world, could become obstructed over time. But trust me, it certainly can.

It is of the utmost importance that, as soon as you suspect this to be the source of the problem, you access the pilot, and give it a good cleaning.

Solution: You’ll have to go in. To do so, please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully close your gas valve to interrupt the gas supply, and let the unit cool down completely
  • Remove any screws connecting the patio heater’s head to the rest of the body
  • Take the appliance’s head to a table or somewhere where you can work on it comfortably
  • Locate the pilot and try to remove any dirt or debris blocking its intake
  • Reassemble and test

Provided that your pilot is to blame, gas flow should now be restored. If it’s not, don’t worry, there’s still a lot more we can try.

Patio Heater On
Your pilot may be having problems sending gas through it if it is clogged.

#2 A damaged gas line

Check your gas line for tearing

This one can be a little tricky.

As you probably know, your gas line is the hose that connects your gas canister to the pilot. It is through this component that propane flows, and lights the flame to produce heat.

When it works normally, gas should be transported through it seamlessly. However, any kind of tearing or blockage on it can impact this process severely.

If your patio heater doesn’t have any gas flow, there’s a very good chance that your gas hose has sustained some damage. This is much more likely if you’ve owned the unit for a long time, or move it constantly. 

It’s very important that you stop using your unit as soon as you suspect this to be the problem, as a torn gas line can leak dangerously, and even cause an explosion if the heater’s flame is lit.

Solution: Carefully access your propane tank, and turn the gas valve counterclockwise to cut off gas flow.

Disconnect the gas line from both the canister, and the pilot, and take it to the sink to fill it with running water. Should you spot any leaking across its length, you’ll have to get a new one.

#3 An empty canister

It can be easy to forget about replacing your canister

This one might seem too obvious, and you’re probably thinking there’s not a chance you could have missed it. And while I’d normally agree with you, remember that it’s the most apparently unimportant things, that we tend to overlook more often.

Assuming that your pilot is clean, and your gas line is unscathed, the next thing we want to check are your propane levels. The rate at which your canister depletes will depend greatly on the frequency of use, and the settings of operation.

Most propane canisters should last you anywhere between 9 and 15 hours of continuous operation.

If you suspect you’ve been running your patio heater for longer than that without replacing it, you might have found your culprit.

Solution:  There are many ways to test whether your canister is depleted. One of my favorites is to carefully access the tank through the appliance’s back compartment, turning off the gas supply, and disconnecting the gas line.

Once you’ve done all that, you can spray a little soapy water in the canister’s outlet, slightly open the gas valve, and check for bubbling. If there is none, your tank has run out of gas, and it will need replacing. 

#4 A faulty canister

A defective tank could have made it to your favorite store

Okay, let’s say you just purchased your canister, and you still have no gas flow. What now?

Well, you might be the owner of a defective unit.

While modern-day factory quality standards are extremely high, there’s always room for human error. This means that a faulty canister could have made it into the market inadvertently. 

If everything else seems to be working fine, but your propane tank looks suspicious, you might want to call your supplier right away. More often than not, a faulty propane tank is either empty, or has a broken gas valve.

The latter condition would make it impossible for the tank to dispense any gas, regardless of how much you turn the valve counterclockwise.

Solution: In 99% of cases, I’d suggest trying to do your own repairs, but this is the exception.

If you’re certain that you bought your canister in this condition, your supplier should not give you a hard time replacing it, as they know this is a common occurrence. However, if they detect that you tampered with the unit previous to reporting it, they might change their tune.

In this case, the best thing you can do is leave the tank alone as soon as you spot any malfunctions on it.

Patio Heater Installed
If your gas tank appears to be leaking, you should contact a qualified professional right away.

#5 A faulty tilt switch

It’s crucial to keep your tilt switch functional at all times

Lastly, let’s take a look at your tilt switch.

In case you’re not familiar with what this component does, let me briefly explain. This part is responsible for interrupting gas flow when it detects any kind of wobbling or inclination in your patio heater to prevent accidents.

After all, your heater is scorching-hot during operation, so it makes sense to have countermeasures to protect those around it.

When it works normally, your tilt switch should not interrupt gas flow unless the aforementioned conditions are met. But any malfunction on it could trick it into thinking the unit is about to fall over, even when it’s not.

It is very important that you test and replace this part as soon as you suspect it to be faulty. It sure can be inconvenient to have it interrupt gas flow in your patio heater, but the consequences of it not activating when you actually need it to, are much more dire.

Solution: Please follow these steps to access your tilt switch:

  1. Carefully interrupt gas supply to your unit, and let it cool down
  • Undo the screws at the lower body section of your heater
  • Remove the upper body once the connecting screws have been undone, and place it somewhere safe
  • Locate your tilt switch in the lower body’s internal components
  • Undo any screws and wires holding the part in place, and gain comfortable access to it

Replacing the tilt switch with a new, functioning one should restore gas flow to your patio heater. If you’re a visual person like me, and want a detailed walkthrough that you can follow along step by step, there are tons of online videos you can check out.


Being the owner of a patio heater with no gas flow can be very frustrating. Not only are you stuck with a malfunctioning appliance, but also in the inconvenient position of having to figure out what the problem is, and finding a way to fix it.

Fortunately, as I hope you’ve learned in this piece, addressing most of the causes behind this issue is fairly simple, and should not take up a lot of your time. In most cases, checking your tilt switch, and making sure your propane levels are adequate, is more than enough to keep the appliance working as good as new.

Thank you for reading. If you found this article useful, why not become an expert in the subject through our other incredible resources below?

Enjoy your cozy soirées!