How to Keep A Gas Space Heater Lit: 5 Tips

lit gas heater

How can you keep your gas space heater lit? Something this simple shouldn’t be so. Here are 5 tips for you.

Whether you recently bought a new space heater or have been running the same trusty appliance for a while, it’s undeniable that having a steady heat source in your home, is a convenience most of us fail to appreciate.

These heaters are designed to be easy to use, and save you a lot of trouble. And while, for the most part, they do their jobs very well, sometimes  it can be hard to keep them lit. If you’re reading this, yours likely dies off after some time.

Why is this happening?

I was in your position not too long ago, so trust me when I tell you that I understand how frustrated you are. There are many reasons why your gas space heater might fail to stay lit. From improper maintenance, to a faulty gas source.

Below, I’ve prepared a list with the most common causes behind this occurrence, and some tips for you to address them immediately. I’m confident that, if you follow them to a tee, your unit will stay lit and be back to normal in the blink of an eye.

Sounds good? Let’s get to work!

Keeping Your Gas Space Heater Lit

You might be tempted to think that the reason behind your gas space heater’s malfunction is a broken internal component. And while this may be a possibility, there are also some things you might be doing wrong.

More often than not, the cause behind this problem is improper cleaning or maintenance of your heater’s parts. It’s important that we go about this in a detailed and orderly manner.

Here are some tips for you to keep your gas space heater lit:

  • Keep the pilot clean.
  • Clean the gas line often.
  • Check the tilt switch.
  • Check the gas source.
  • Clean the filter.

#1 Keep the Pilot Clean

professional technician repairing heater
Give your space heater proper and regular maintenance

You’d be surprised at how many people struggle keeping their gas space heater lit, only to find a long time later, that it could have all been solved by cleaning the pilot regularly.

As you know, this part is responsible for receiving the gas coming from your gas source, and lighting the flame if everything else seems in order.

When this component is clean and unobstructed, you should have a steady flame, and a reliable heat source. However, if you fail to clean this part regularly, it could become obstructed over time.

In order to guarantee that your gas space here will stay lit, make sure to clean the pilot at least once every two months. Cleaning the part with this frequency should make the overall process much simpler, and prevent any problems in the future.

#2 Clean the Gas Line Often

Whether you use a propane tank or a direct natural gas source, it’s a certainty that your space heater needs a gas line to transport gas from it, to your pilot.

This hose is built to last, but it’s not indestructible. In fact, damaged gas lines are one of the most common culprits behind space heater-related gas leaks in households. This is not only inconvenient, but extremely dangerous, as long exposure to propane can be life-threatening.

Just as it happens with your pilot, if you fail to clean this hose regularly, it could become obstructed as you use the heater. This could compromise free gas flow, and explain why you’re having trouble keeping your gas space heater lit.

If you just cleaned your pilot and suspect this to be the source of your problem, make sure to address it immediately.

Solution: Wait for the appliance to cool down completely, and then carefully disconnect both ends of your gas line.

Once you have done this, take it to the nearest sink and pass running water through it. Unless you come across some very stubborn residue, the hose should be clean after a couple of minutes.

Should some debris prove difficult to remove, you can always use a mixture made up of equal parts of water and white vinegar. This will soften the remaining residue, and make it much easier to scrub off.

#3 Check the Tilt Switch

Space heaters would be very dangerous to operate without this component.

In case you’re not familiar with what a tilt switch does, let me briefly explain. This part is responsible for sensing whenever the appliance is about to tip over, at which point, it cuts off all gas supply to prevent accidents.

When it works normally, it would only activate if your heater tips over. However, when it malfunctions, it could be constantly sensing inclination, even when there is none present. This could be making it difficult for your unit to stay lit, as the tilt switch is constantly cutting off gas supply.

Addressing this problem immediately is essential, as it’s not only inconvenient, but also leaves your appliance with a faulty safety mechanism.

Solution: You’ll have to replace the switch. To do so, please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully unplug the appliance, and let it cool down completely
  2. Turn it around and undo the screws holding the back wall panel in place
  3. Remove the back wall panel and expose the unit’s guts
  4. Locate your tilt switch, and delicately remove it for replacement
  5. Place the new tilt switch, and test

While this process may vary from model to model, the broad strokes should be the same for all of them.

#4 Check the Gas Source

Depending on the model you own, your space heater might draw gas from either a propane canister, a larger container outside your house, or a natural gas exhaust. Whatever the case may be, struggling to keep your appliance lit could mean the gas source is somehow compromised.

Removing patio heater tank cover
Are you certain you haven’t simply run out of gas?

If your model uses a canister or a large container, you might want to start looking for answers there. However, if it draws gas from a natural gas source, things can get a little tricky, as you won’t have access to it.

Solution: If your model uses a propane canister or larger container outside your home, make sure to read your user manual and determine whether it’s time to get a new one.

Most consumer-grade propane canisters are designed to last anywhere between 10 and 15 hours, so if you know you’ve been using your heater for longer than that, there’s your answer.

If you’re doubtful or unfamiliar as to how to go about this process, you can always call a technician. Sure, having to pay for a canister replacement is annoying, but can you really put a price on your well-being?

#5 Clean the Filter

dirty air filter
Cleaning your filter regularly will protect your heater’s internal components

Last but definitely not least, let’s talk about cleaning your filter.

A lot of people always ask me why they need air filters for a heating appliance, and the answer is very simple. To protect its internal components.

While your space heater does not pull in air in the same way as a dehumidifier or air conditioner does, it’s still constantly in contact with particles that could prove harmful to it.

Your air filter acts as a shield between them, and what’s inside your unit. A clean filter will allow for proper airflow and should give you no problems. A dirty one, however, can cause your unit to overheat and prompt its safety mechanisms to kick in, thus killing the flame and causing your current misfortune.

Solution: While most space heater manufacturers claim their air filters to be lifetime guaranteed, this isn’t always so.

Ideally, you want to clean your filter once every two months and replace it once a year or as you deem necessary.

To clean it, please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully unplug the space heater, and let it cool down completely
  2. Remove the back wall panel to expose the filter (this may vary from model to model)
  3. Remove the filter
  4. Wash it with dish soap under running water, and let it dry completely
  5. Vacuum off any remaining debris
  6. Reassemble

When Should You Call a Pro?

The answer to this question will depend greatly on the status of your warranty and whether the solutions above worked for you.

If you’re still under coverage and don’t mind waiting a couple of days or weeks for your manufacturer to send a technician to your home, by all means, go ahead and give them a call.

Unless specified otherwise on your documents, they should take care of the repairs for free.

Provided that your warranty has expired, you’ll have to weigh the cost of repairs vs the cost of buying a new model. The replacement parts to keep your heater lit are not awfully expensive, but the cost of labor to have them installed and set up can be.


Owning a space heater that refuses to stay lit, can be very inconvenient. After all, this appliance is supposed to provide you with a steady heat source, but instead, it’s working intermittently.

What a disaster!

Luckily, as I hope you’ve learned in this piece, addressing most of the causes behind this situation is simple and not very time-consuming. More often than not, keeping your pilot and air filter clean is all it takes to keep the appliance in tip-top shape.

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

Good luck!

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more