How to Clean a Lazy Propane Space Heater Pilot Flame: A Comprehensive Guide

If your propane space heater’s pilot flame is burning weakly or “lazily,” it’s likely due to a clogged orifice. This guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of cleaning the pilot flame to restore its proper function and efficiency.

Identifying a Lazy Pilot Flame

A lazy pilot flame is characterized by a small, flickering, or discolored flame. This can be caused by a buildup of dust, dirt, or debris in the pilot orifice, which restricts the flow of gas and prevents the flame from burning properly. A weak pilot flame may also fail to properly heat the thermocouple or thermopile, which can cause the main burner to shut off.

Preparing to Clean the Pilot Flame

how to clean a lazy propane space heater pilot flame

Before you begin, ensure that the gas supply to the heater is turned off for safety. Locate the pilot assembly, which is typically situated near the main burner. You’ll need to remove the pilot assembly to access the orifice.

Removing the Pilot Assembly

  1. Locate the screw that secures the pilot assembly to the burner assembly and undo it.
  2. Disconnect the gas tube that supplies gas to the pilot by unscrewing the nut that holds it in place.
  3. If necessary, disconnect the thermocouple or thermopile from the pilot assembly to provide more working space.
  4. Carefully remove the pilot assembly from the heater.

Cleaning the Pilot Orifice

  1. Examine the pilot orifice, which is a small opening or nozzle that controls the flow of gas to the pilot flame.
  2. Use a can of compressed air or gently blow through the orifice to dislodge any debris or blockages.
  3. Avoid using any metal or wooden objects to clean the orifice, as this can damage the delicate opening.
  4. If the orifice is severely clogged, you may need to replace the pilot assembly.

Reassembling and Adjusting the Pilot Flame

  1. Reattach the pilot assembly to the burner assembly and reconnect the gas tube.
  2. If you disconnected the thermocouple or thermopile, reattach it now.
  3. Turn the gas supply back on and light the pilot flame.
  4. Adjust the pilot flame using the adjustment screw on the gas valve. The flame should be a soft, blue color and hit the upper 1/2 to 3/8 of the sensing element (thermocouple or pilot generator).
  5. Use a millivolt meter to measure the output of the thermocouple (25-30 millivolts) or pilot generator (750 millivolts) to ensure the flame is properly adjusted.

Troubleshooting and Replacement

If the pilot flame remains weak or lazy after cleaning the orifice, there may be other issues with the pilot assembly or the heater’s safety systems. In this case, it’s recommended to have a certified technician inspect the unit and make any necessary repairs or replacements.

Technical Specifications

  • Pilot orifice sizes for natural gas: 0.014 to 0.026 inches
  • Pilot orifice sizes for LP gas: 0.008 to 0.013 inches
  • Thermocouple millivolt output: 25 to 30 millivolts
  • Pilot generator millivolt output: 750 millivolts

By following these steps, you can effectively clean and adjust the pilot flame on your propane space heater, ensuring safe and efficient operation. Remember to always prioritize safety and consider seeking professional assistance if you’re unsure or encounter any issues during the process.

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