How to Bypass A Patio Heater’s Tilt Switch (Safely)
Is your tilt switch giving you trouble? You might be thinking about bypassing it. Here’s how you can do it safely.
When operating any kind of household appliance, safety should always be our top priority. Over the years, manufacturers have developed and improved a myriad of safety mechanisms within our favorite machines to keep us from harm.
And while they normally work wonders, what happens when they start getting in the way of our appliance’s functionality?
As of late, this seems to be the case with patio heaters and their tilt switches. These components are designed to sense any kind of inclination in the unit to trigger an immediate interruption of gas or electricity supply in order to prevent accidents.
However, lots of people have complained about how simple it can be for this part to malfunction and cause inconveniences.
If you’re reading this, you’re no stranger to this situation, and are likely looking for a way to fix it. I had this problem not so long ago, so I understand what you’re going through.
Normally I’d advise against bypassing a safety mechanism as important as this one, but since I know how much of an obstacle it can be, I want to provide you with useful information to help you do so safely.
Below, we’ll delve further into what your tilt switch does, how you can find it, some methods to bypass it safely, and much more.
Sounds good? Let’s get to work!
Bypassing a Patio Heater’s Tilt Switch
First, let’s talk about the purpose of this component. As I mentioned earlier, it has been designed to immediately prompt your heater to deactivate in the event of a fall. Knocking over a patio heater is not very easy, but it’s not too hard either, so it makes sense for this mechanism to exist.
When these appliances tip over, they could start a fire, or hurt someone. And while the tilt switch can’t cool the unit down immediately, it can stop the production of heat. This is especially useful in gas models, as the fire inside them can quickly become a problem.
I want to start off by telling you this, so that you’re aware of what kind of risks you’ll be exposing yourself to, should you choose to bypass the switch.
How to Find and Bypass Your Tilt Switch
To do this, you’ll need a screwdriver, a couple of pliers, and a lot of patience. As you can imagine, your tilt switch is safely positioned within your heater, so, in order to access it, you’ll have to remove a couple of screws.
Here are the steps you should follow:
- Turn off all gas supply to the unit, and let it cool down completely
- Once it’s cool enough to handle, look for screws connecting the upper body of the heater to the base
- Use your screwdriver and remove them. If possible, have someone help you hold the upper part of the unit to keep it from falling over once the screws have been undone.
- Most models have a small metal panel with a couple of screws holding it in place; remove them, and access the unit’s guts.
- Your tilt switch should be located at the top of the panel
- Once you have located it, you should see a couple of cables connected to it, you’ll have to delicately unplug them
- After all the cables have been disconnected, feel for the screws holding the switch in place and undo them as well
- Disconnect the switch and test it for continuity
If you got this far, you already removed the faulty component, so it makes no sense to leave the appliance as is. If possible, go to your nearest hardware store and get a replacement.
This will solve your current problem, and leave your unit’s safety mechanisms fully operational. The process may vary from model to model, but the broad strokes should be the same for all of them.
If you are a visual person like me, and want a detailed walkthrough you can follow along step by step, there are tons of online videos you can check out.
When Is a Bypass a Good Idea?
In my opinion, there are only three situations that would justify doing this:
- You suspect the switch needs replacing
- Your patio heater won’t stay lit no matter what
- You want to make sure no other component is to blame for your problem
Again, if you’re already going to access this component for any of the aforementioned reasons, replacing it will just take a couple of extra minutes, and in return, you’ll be able to breathe easy knowing you’re using your unit safely.
What About Your Warranty?
Sadly, this is one of those situations where you have to choose between fixing your problem right away, or keeping your warranty valid.
Since tilt switches are such an important safety feature inside your patio heater, tampering with them in any way will immediately void your warranty. If you’ve owned your appliance for a long time, you’re likely no longer under coverage, so this shouldn’t concern you.
However, if your warranty is still valid, why put yourself at risk? In most cases, your manufacturer should send a professional to your home to do the repairs for free.
Sure, it might take a couple of days or weeks, but what is more inconvenient? Having to wait? Or putting yourself in harm’s way and risking doing further damage to your unit?
Patience is a virtue, my friend.
Depending on what your plans are, there are a couple of things you can try. If you’re planning to buy a replacement tilt switch soon, you could opt for a temporary solution, such as tying the appliance to a post or a fence in your backyard. This will hold it in place, and eliminate the chances of it tipping over.
Once you replace the switch, you can untie the heater, and use it normally.
If portability isn’t something you’re looking for, and plan to use your unit in the exact same spot throughout its entire lifespan, then you could opt for screwing it onto your deck or tiles.
As you can imagine, this is a permanent solution that will require you to sacrifice the comfort of moving the unit at will in exchange for safely operating it without a tilt switch.
You can’t win them all.
Check Your Documents
Waiting for a technician to pay you a visit when you need to fix an appliance, is annoying. In an ideal world, you should get the help you require the very same day that your heater malfunctions, but sadly, it’s almost never so.
In most cases, you’ll have to wait a couple of days or weeks before a professional comes to your home and takes a look at the switch.
And while this may sound unnecessary, it’s the only way to prevent voiding your warranty.
I mean, think about it. Are you really willing to forego your warranty and pay for repairs you could have gotten for free if you had just waited? If you’re lucky, you’ll only have to replace the tilt switch.
However, if you’re not 100% sure of what you’re doing, you could accidentally break other internal components that will need replacing and testing.
What starts out as a good idea to save time and money, might end up costing you a fortune, and making matters worse. If you ask me, I would advise checking whether your warranty is still valid, and contacting your manufacturer if so.
Patio heaters are very useful, but they’re not essential. You might have to postpone your family picnic or your soirées for a couple of weeks, but these sacrifices will yield a much greater benefit for both your appliance, and your pocket in the long run.
Moreover, even if you’re not under coverage anymore, you should still call a professional in case you feel doubtful or unsafe during the process. Not calling a pro might save you some money, but you can’t put a price on your wellbeing.
Deactivating a safety mechanism within an appliance is always a bad idea. However, these can sometimes cause more problems than they solve, so bypassing them becomes a necessity.
That being said, even in these less than ideal scenarios, some fixes are safer than others. It is of the utmost importance that, if you’re planning on bypassing your tilt switch, you do so while taking into consideration everything that could go wrong.
Whenever possible, make sure to replace this component quickly, and implement any of the solutions mentioned above to keep the heater from falling over while the switch is not functioning.
Thank you so much for sticking with me all the way to the end. If you found this article helpful, why not keep the learning going through our other incredible resources below?
Best of luck to you!