Why does my propane fire pit keep going out?
There are 5 main reasons a gas fire pit will start and then go out:
- No fuel
- Fuel line blockage
- Poorly set fire glass or lava rock
- Malfunctioning regulator or valve
- Malfunctioning or dirty flame sensor
- Thermocouple problems
We’ll explain what exactly these gas fire pit problems entail and how to fix them.
Why Does My Propane Fire Pit Keep Going Out?
Propane gas fire pits are great… when they’re working correctly!
But when they’re playing up it’s another story. A fire pit that won’t stay lit is obviously very annoying, but often the problem is easy to resolve.
1. No Fuel
This problem should be fairly obvious and is the easiest to solve.
An empty propane tank is very light and you can usually tell by lifting it up. Of course, it’s light when it’s almost empty as well, so that may not altogether be the reason.
You can detach the gas lines and open the tank slightly to hear or smell if there is any gas coming out. Or, some tanks have a gauge that will tell you whether or not it’s empty.
The other potential problem is a propane leak leading to less gas making it to the head. For safety’s sake, check for leaks before using your fire pit, especially if it hasn’t been used for a while.
2. Fuel Line
A blocked or damaged fuel line may also be the reason your fire pit keeps shutting off.
The gas line can:
- Become clogged with dead or living insects
- Corrode, if made of metal
- Have a kink or bend restricting the flow
- Have problems due to changing temperature (from frost/snow to hot, for example)
- Be damaged through ordinary wear and tear
Gas fire pits are safe when they’re in good condition. Make sure to inspect the gas lines to avoid an accident.
Also, your connections may not be tight or connected correctly. Make sure everything is as it should be and that there are no leaks.
3. Fire Glass Or Lava Rock
Propane fire pits usually have a gas fire ring which is set upon fire glass or lava rock.
Both of these functional decorations for fire pits can block, damage, or hinder the burner, flame sensor, or thermocouple.
Lava rocks can also arrive quite dusty, which could also affect the performance of the fire pit.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to set up, use, and maintain the fire pit, especially when it comes to fire glass or lava rock placement.
4. Windy Day
This is another obvious one – wind can blow out a gas fire pit.
You can buy wind guards separately if your fire pit did not include one. If you’re still looking to buy, the popular U-Max Gas Fire Pit is one option that comes with a windshield.
However, in strong wind, even a wind guard might fail to keep the flames burning. In this case it’s best to switch the fire pit and gas off and head indoors.
5. Problems With Gas Regulator Or Valve
These final three reasons why a gas fire pit won’t stay lit are more technical and should be inspected and fixed by a gas/plumbing expert.
The regulator controls the flow of gas from the propane tank to the fire pit, and if it’s malfunctioning, it can prevent the fire pit from receiving enough gas to stay lit.
This can be caused by a blockage, a leak, deterioration from age, exposure to the elements, or poor installation.
Consult the instruction manual, call the seller or manufacturer, or call another professional for advice. If something is obviously wrong, get a new regulator and line.
6. Flame Sensor Malfunctioning Or Dirty
A flame sensor is a safety device that is commonly found in propane and natural gas-powered appliances, such as fire pits, boilers, and furnaces.
The flame sensor is usually a metal rod or wire that is located near the burner assembly. It is designed to detect the presence of a flame and ensure that the burner is operating safely.
The sensor is typically connected to the electronic ignition system and will shut off the gas supply if it doesn’t detect a flame or if the flame goes out while the appliance is in use.
This is a safety feature to prevent gas leaks and the possibility of a fire or explosion. However, if, due to damage, the flame sensor thinks there’s no flame, it will stop the gas supply and the fire pit will cut out.
7. Malfunctioning Thermocouple
The thermocouple is a different safety device from the flame sensor, though it performs a similar function.
A thermocouple is a metal sensor that generates a small electrical current when it is heated. It is located near the burner assembly, and it is designed to detect the presence of a flame and ensure that the burner is operating safely.
When the flame is present, the thermocouple generates a small electrical current that is sent to the electronic ignition system, which keeps the gas valve open.
The location of the thermocouple can vary depending on the design of the fire pit, but it is usually easy to find. Sometimes the thermocouple is visible and it is easy to spot it, but in other cases, it may be hidden behind a metal cover or inside the control valve.
It is usually screwed or bolted into the gas control valve, and it is in close proximity to the flame. It is a small metal rod that is connected to the electronic ignition system by a wire, however, the exact type and looks will vary.
Fixing it may involve cleaning, checking the alignment, or checking for loose connections. In some cases, it may need to be professionally repaired or replaced.
Propane Fire Pit Won’t Stay Lit
Those are the 7 most common reasons a gas fire pit will keep going out.
If you cannot even get the fire to go, you may have other issues beyond what we’ve shared here. Damage can occur when people try to hide their fire pit propane tank. If you’re using a propane tank cover, make sure it’s not interfering with the line, regulator, or connections.
When in doubt, hire a qualified gasfitter or plumber to take a look at your fire pit problems. Better to be safe than sorry.