How to fix a Mr. Heater Buddy not lighting

Your Mr. Heater Buddy is not lighting? Fixing a Mr. Heater that does not turn on is usually simple.

In this article, you’re going to learn how to get your Mr. Heater running again.

Quick answer: You can fix your Mr. Heater Buddy not lighting by cleaning the pilot light opening with a Q-tip and rubbing alcohol. Also, firmly smack your Mr. Heater 5-10 times. If gas comes out of the pilot light opening, but your heater does not spark, use a lighter to ignite the gas. Replace the igniter in the long run.

Causes and Fixes for your Mr. Heater Buddy not lighting

Mr. Heater Buddy propane heaters have a built-in safety mechanism. The pilot light heats up a thermocouple sensor. A thermocouple is just an electric thermometer.

The thermocouple constantly monitors the temperature of the pilot light’s flame. If the flame is not hot enough, the Mr. Heater Buddy heater does not open the gas valve to start the heating panels.

Why is that?

The pilot light indicates the state of the propane combustion. If the pilot light doesn’t burn properly, that’s a sign that something is wrong with the heater.

As a safety mechanism, the gas valve closes. That’s to protect you from incomplete propane combustion, which could result in carbon monoxide production and significantly more inefficient heating.

That’s the usual cause for a Mr. Heater Buddy not igniting. Let’s have a look at what can cause this problem and how to fix it.

mr heater buddy thermocouple
That’s the thermocouple.

Dirty pilot light opening

Oftentimes, the pilot light gas opening is dirty. When this orifice is dirty, propane can’t properly pass through it and you don’t get the expected blue flame.

Usually, this is very simple to test and fix.

How to test: Turn your Mr. Heater Buddy’s pilot light on. Which color is the flame coming out of it? If it’s yellow, your pilot light does not receive enough propane (or air). Also, if your pilot light is blue but too short to reach the thermocouple (opposite the pilot light opening), that’s a sign of a dirty pilot light opening.

How to fix: Take off the front guard of your Mr. Heater Buddy.

Use Q-tips and rubbing alcohol to clean the pilot light opening. You need to use rubbing alcohol because the most common form of dirt in a pilot light is oil and grease.

After a thorough clean, try to turn on your propane heater. The pilot light should not burn blue. And you should be able to switch on the heating panels.

mr heater buddy pilot light
The pilot light is the opening where the flame comes out!

How to prevent this in the future: The oil in your pilot light comes from using a propane hose line without a filter.

The reason for the oil in your gas line is that propane is a byproduct of crude oil. Because it is not refined perfectly, propane will always contain a tiny fraction of oil. Over time, the oil accumulates in the hose and inside your pilot light.

Also, oftentimes, many new hoses contain oil as well. I think it’s to prevent clogging and the inner sides of the hose from sticking together.

And at some point, it clogs the pilot light.

To prevent this from happening in the future, I recommend using this inline propane filter (click here to view it on amazon).

It’s an original Mr. Heater product. And it connects directly to the heater.

You should replace the propane filter once every year, or every two years, depending on your usage. So, I’d just buy a set of 3 to be prepared.

“This item is absolutely necessary to run your Buddy Heater off of a larger propane tank. Extension hoses will allow tiny bits of the rubber to break loose and clog the heater. This filter prevents that and extends the life of your heater.”

a reviewer on amazon

If you are running your Mr. Heater Buddy on 1lb propane bottles only (and not off larger tanks), then you don’t need an inline propane filter. The issue happens only with the bigger 20lb tanks and the hose that you use to connect the tank and your Mr. Heater.

Sensor behind off-button stuck

There is a sensor behind the off-button on the back side of Mr. Heater Buddy heaters.

When this sensor is stuck, your heater can’t turn on anymore.

The fix for this is funny, but it really works.

How to check: You can only really check for this issue by testing the fix and seeing if it works afterward. So, check out the fix:

How to fix: Hold your Mr. Heater Buddy in one hand and smack it firmly 5-10 times with the other hand. Then push the off-button a dozen times. Try to turn on the pilot light and then turn on the heating. It should work now!

How to prevent it in the future: Unfortunately, there is no good preventative action for the stuck sensor issue. It seems to be a fragile aspect in the otherwise good Mr. Heater products.

Anyways, just keep in mind that you should smack your heater when it does not do as you wish and see if it works then.

( I wish you could solve more life problems this way … )

“Mine hasn’t worked in a year. I brought it home last weekend to work on it. I slapped it around 8-10 times. Pushed the off button 15 times, screwed a bottle on it and it lit right up.”

a texasbowhunter member

Igniter broken

Another possible reason for your Mr. Heater not lighting is that the igniter doesn’t work. Of course, you need the igniter to work to light the gas. So, here’s what you can do.

How to test: Try to spark the igniter. Does it work?

How to fix: For now, you can try the following workaround. Since it’s only your igniter that is not working, but propane still leaves your pilot light’s hose, you can light the gas using a lighter.

Once the pilot light burns, you should be able to switch on the heating.

Of course, this is not a real fix for the problem, but it’s a good workaround.

To fix your igniter properly, you likely need to replace it. You can try to find an original Mr. Heater replacement igniter or any generic electric igniter for this.

Until you fix it, just carry a lighter with you and light your Mr. Heater Buddy manually.

Defective thermocouple

Even though thermocouples are very durable devices (they are basically just bent pieces of wire), they can break in practice.

It might be the case that your thermocouple oxidized or overheated, or broke due to impact. Normally, this should not happen, but it can.

How to test: Disassemble your Mr. Heater and remove the thermocouple. With a sensitive voltmeter (that can measure to mV-precision), measure the voltage of the thermocouple’s two strands of wire.

Measure the voltage of the thermocouple with and without flame exposure (for example from a lighter). The voltage should increase with temperature.

If it doesn’t, your thermocouple is broken.

However, there could be an issue in the connection point of your thermocouple that you can’t check by disconnected measuring. This issue would only occur when the thermocouple is built into the Mr. Heater Buddy. Then, you should check if the voltage from your thermocouple reaches another point in your Mr. Heater’s circuit.

How to fix: Testing a broken thermocouple is actually a lot more difficult than fixing it. So, if you don’t have the devices to test your thermocouple, then you can simply try to replace your thermocouple and see if your Mr. Heater lights.

I recommend this Mr. Heater replacement thermocouple (click here to view it on amazon).

What to do if your Mr. Heater Buddy still does not light?

If your Mr. Heater Buddy still does not work, then I’d suggest getting a new one.

You can usually sell the defective model online. There are hobbyists who buy broken propane heaters and try to fix and flip them.

Of course, Mr. Heater Buddies are still the best propane heaters out there. That’s why I recommend you just buy the same model again.

This Mr. Heater Buddy propane heater (click here to view it on amazon) is my favorite.


You can fix 95% of Mr. Heater Buddy heaters by cleaning the pilot light opening with rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip.

If it doesn’t work after that, smack your Mr. Heater Buddy heater with your open palm and try running it again.

I hope this article helped you!