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Propane Fire Pit Problems

There’s something special about backyard propane fire pits- they deliver wonderful warmth and ambiance so your family and friends can enjoy an evening full of laughter and fun.

However, as with traditional fire pits, propane-fueled pits occasionally malfunction and can frustrate you when you’re all set for a magical time with close friends and family after dark.

Below, we share tips on troubleshooting the most common propane fire pit problems so that you’re on top of the situation if the fire pit won’t work -some of the issues are easier to fix than you think.

Propane fire pit problems, their causes, and step-by-step troubleshooting

Here are some of the most widespread propane fire pit problems you can resolve by following basic correction procedures and potentially avoiding an expensive repair bill.

Best Propane Fire Pit Tables

Propane fire pit clogged

When your family and friends gather together on a perfect cozy summer evening, the last thing you want is your propane fire pit to fail to burn as it has always.

Yet, this often happens when the burner ports get clogged with debris, diminishing the burner efficacy-it obviously won’t burn well.

What to do:

Clearing the blockage isn’t difficult.

Follow these steps:

  1. Remove the unit’s burner system (from the pit). 
  2. Set it in a suitable cleaning solution- the residue should dissolve in the cleaner as it sits (allow it to sit for 30 minutes or so).
  3. Now remove the burner (from the container with the solution) and proceed to dry it completely.
  4. Replace it into your fire pit, then re-connect it to the propane supply lines.

Voila!

Propane fire pit low flame

Another relatively common issue is tiny, frustrating flames- you light it instead of warm, large flames, and the unit produces flames that seem less than enthusiastic.

The lack of roaring flames could be as basic as wrongly adjusted gas pressure reading or faulty parts, which means replacements will be needed.

It also could be the result of having excess fire media- lava rock, fire glass, or another medium- on top of your burner (it restricts the height of the flame).

The other possible cause is a gas leak.

Troubleshooting ideas

  • Verify that the current gas pressure reading (at the fireplace switch) is within the regular range. Adjust if necessary- turn the regulator clockwise or counterclockwise by 90 degrees to decrease or increase the pressure.
  • Clear anything that could be between your burner and fire media.
  • Ensure that all the fittings around the whole setup are secured tightly. If not, tighten them properly- the idea is to eliminate any leakage.

If nothing works, consider bringing in a pro to help you locate the leak (and fix it).  He/she will also check for any advanced defects causing the low flame.

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The propane fire pit won’t stay lit

The next hiccup that we would like to highlight is the problem of the fire pit failing to stay lit.

See: If your fire pit lights up but stays lit for only 5 to 15 minutes before shutting off (unless you, of course, hold the knob in), then the primary culprit is dust in the thermocouple area and pilot light.

Next, the fault could occur because the thermocouple line has become loose- the line sometimes gets loose over time. It might not also stay lit if there’s excess paint under the unit’s thermocouple nut.

The other cause of lighting challenges is rocks falling on the little metallic cage (with round holes) found on emptying the rocks you put into the fire pit. The rocks may have come between the built-in pair of wires, blocking the space between them, yet this space is required as a safety measure to keep the propane fire going.

Troubleshooting procedure

If you suspect it is dirt, try to use a can of compressed air (plus a tube) to blow the offending dust out of the two areas.

In addition, tighten the thermocouple line- simply open the door, then look at the line with a white sleeve. Proceed to tighten the typically brass fitting into the valve just behind the primary control knob snug by hand.  

And oh, check all the nuts and tighten them- we urge caution not to over-tighten to avoid twisting/snapping the copper line. Thereafter, consider cleaning any excess paint off the underside of the thermocouple nut.

Concerning rocks falling into the cage, start by clearing the rocks. After that, unscrew the cage, then clean it out. That’s not all: be sure to clean out the glass around the rectangular box/cage (where applicable).

Try all the above fixes- your fire pit will likely begin to stay lit after you release the pilot/starter.

How to get more heat from a propane fire pit

If your pit does not put off good enough heat on a cold night, try the following tips before thinking of additional heaters or upgrading to a bigger unit:

Install a reflector

Maximize the radiant heat (convective heat is lost upward) by introducing some form of a reflector right above the fire. For instance, installing a suitably-sized metal sheet above the fire can increase the heat significantly.

Put bigger-sized chunks of lava rocks

You can stack them up in some sort of inverted pyramid shape over the flames (but not too high due to the risk of tumbling down). That way, as the convective heat goes up, it will be redirected through the rocks, making them heat up.

This subsequently radiates more heat out all around the sides, making those sitting around the fire warmer.

Ensure the vitals are in the best condition

You are unlikely to get a good heat flow if the fire pit is not in the best condition. For this reason, clean the burner off any debris clogging the holes. The pipes should also be cleaned out using compressed air to eliminate blockages.

With that, the flame may improve, meaning you’re a step closer to more warmth.

Propane Fire Pit Problems FAQ

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If there’s one thing we would like to emphasize is the need to call a pro in where appropriate –attempting repairs that are best left to a professional is simply risking your investment.

Except that, do everything you can to enjoy the pit!

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