Four Tips to Keep Portable Patio Heaters Running Properly

Four Tips to Keep Portable Patio Heaters Running Properly

Posted by Alfresco Heating on Jan 11th 2024

From a customer:

“We own three outdoor heat lamps; two of which do not work. The last time I used them I got them to start but then they quickly died. I tried the removal of the top and blowing air through the pilot area. It didn’t work. I think it is a lack of propane going up from the tank to the top. I’m trying to host a Christmas Party — outside. Can you call or walk me through how to basically unclog.”

From Alfresco Heating: There are four maintenance tips that will help keep your portable patio heaters running properly all year round.

1. Keep a propane tank on your portable outdoor heaters (even if empty) at all times

We recommend keeping tanks on the patio heaters, even when not in use, to minimize the line filling with air and to keep insects out of the propane regulators.

2. Bleed air out of the propane lines

When first lighting the pilots, you may have to hold the knobs on the gas valves in for a while to let the air out of the gas lines, especially if the heaters have not been used for some time. On some brands and models, it can take two to three minutes. On Patio Comfort, it can take one to two minutes before enough gas gets through to light the pilot.

Once you can light the pilot, hold the knob on the gas valve in for 20 seconds (typically) before releasing it, and then turn the valve handle to the “on” position to light the main burner.

3. Clean out the pilot when necessary

Insects can be attracted to the scent of propane and move into the portable outdoor heaters’ pilot heads, clogging them up. Here is a video about how to unclog the Patio Comfort pilots. Remove the four screws, lift the emitter grid off, then use compressed air — which can be found in cans at office-supply stores — to blow out the pilot, even if they don’t appear clogged to the naked eye. This is often the miracle cure.

4. Use seasonal covers when the patio heaters are not used for long periods

Cover your patio heater heads when unused for long periods, to prevent insects from moving in. We have a range of covers available.

If the portable patio heaters still don’t work after trying these tips, then the pilot assembly or thermocouple assembly may need to be replaced. If that is needed then please do contact us, and we can discuss the four options for the repairs:

  1. Replace the pilot assemblies yourself. This requires high mechanical aptitude. Note that the problem also could be in the propane regulators. Patio Comfort Parts. SunGlo patio heater parts. Bromic patio heater parts.
  2. Replace the patio heater heads yourself. This is just a small step more challenging than removing the emitter grid and blowing out the pilot. Note that the problem also could be in the regulators.
  3. Send the portable patio heater heads to Alfresco Heating for repair. Include the propane regulators as well. $170 an hour plus parts (as of 1/1/24). It would be $250 per patio heater total, to repair SunGlo or Patio Comfort Heaters (in 2024) or in some cases less.
  4. If you’re based near us in the San Francisco Bay Area, we can come out and service the patio heaters at your location. Add a zoned service charge to the repairs cost, to get a skilled technician with parts and tools to your location, in order to fix your patio heaters on the spot.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our outdoor heating experts at Alfresco Heating for any patio heating questions. Give us a call at 707-345-4000 or email


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