Little Buddy Heater Problems Explained And Easy Fixes

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.

Little Buddy Heater Problems Explained

Little Buddy Heater Problems : Explained

Little Buddy Heater problems can occur at the most inconvenient time. Imagine you’re on a fishing trip. Suddenly you’re facing problems with your Little Buddy Heater. You don’t know what to do because who thought this would happen in the first place? 

This article is a guide on common problems with Little Buddy issues. And Yes!, we don't leave you hanging. We tell you how to solve them. We'll discuss each issue in detail and guide you on how to fix these issues step by step. 

But before we hop on to the possible problems you can face and their solutions, let’s take a quick look at the Little Buddy Heater and how it works.

Little Buddy Heater from Mr. Heater is your favorite companion for fishing expeditions, camping adventures, or simply relaxing on the porch. This portable heater will stay with you forever if you take care of it. With years of use, you may face some troubles, but the good news is, unlike ravin crossbow issues, you can easily fix them without professional help or trips to the hardware store. 

How Little Buddy Heater Works

Mr Heater Buddy Heater 20 lb propane cylinder

Little Buddy Heater is a portable solution for outdoor activities. Its small size makes it perfect to carry on trips. The heater works with an integrated Piezo mechanism. In lamen terms, you have to push and hold the control knob to turn on the pilot button and ignite the ignitor. 

The buddy heater is a camping heater with a portable design. It's powered by the small 1-pound propane cylinders that are directly attached to it. However, some versions like, Mr Heater Buddy Heater, use a 20 lb tank or cylinder with a hose.  

With an oxygen depletion sensor and an accidental tip-over safety feature, its design is considered to be safe around children. So, now that we know how it works, what are some Little Buddy Heater problems? Let’s take a look. 

How do you check for propane heaters for gas leakage?

It is important to check the solenoid valve routinely for signs of leaking to maintain the safety of the heater and for the heater to function correctly. The Solenoid valve is the safety device that regulates the gas supply and turns it off when there is no flame.

Little Buddy Gas Connector Leak
Put the soapy water mix on the connector
Look for ACTIVE bubbling
Look for ACTIVE bubbling

Routine Safety Check:

Here is a simple soap and water method to check if gas is leaking:

  • Make a soapy solution by mixing half dish soap and half water
  • Spray it all around over the cylinder connector
  • Turn on the pilot light and then turn the heat up
  • If you can spot any ACTIVE bubbles forming, the gas is leaking
  • Shut the propane off, tighten the connector and recheck

Why is my little Buddy Heater not getting propane gas?

Most of the time, there is no other cause of the heater not working properly other than the shortage of propane gas. Double checking you have an extra cylinder with you, before embarking on your next outdoor expedition, is important.

Now, there can be a few reasons why your Little Heater is not getting propane gas. For starters, Little Buddy is powered by 1 lb cylinders. It is best to check the gas before you try anything else. 

How do you check the level of propane gas left inside the bottle?

If you use the Buddy Heater with 1 lb propane cylinders, one of the most common problems is not knowing how to check the propane gas levels inside the cylinder. 

Solutions: Measure how much gas is left in the cylinder

Check Little Buddy Heater Propane Gas Level
Check Propane Gas Level With Water Method

1. Weigh it on a scale. An empty propane cylinder weighs 1lb and it holds 1lb of propane when full. Or…

2. You can gently shake the cylinder to check for the liquid inside; if you can hear the liquid inside, you still have propane gas. Or…

3. Pour a glass of warm water over the cylinder. Feel for a difference in temperature. The cylinder will feel cool once you reach the propane level. The empty part of the cylinder will be warm.

Issue With the Cylinder Regulator

If you have enough propane left in the cylinder, an issue with the regulator may be a reason your buddy heater does not receive gas.

Solutions: Regulator Troubleshooting

  • Loose connections can sometimes cause the problem. Remove the gas heater from the propane cylinders and check if it is properly connected to the regulator.
  • Tighten it up if it's loose.
  • If you suspect a problem with the regulator, try replacing it with a new one.
  • Also, check that there is no gas leakage through the regulator, using the soap and water method described above.

Why Does My Little Buddy Heater Not Spark?

Another common Little Buddy Heater problem is when the pilot light is on, but the ignitor is not lighting properly. A common cause of not getting a spark is a dirty pilot tube or a dirty orifice. The debris in the pilot tube or around it may block the propane gas from passing through. It is a common problem for those who have been using the same Mr Buddy heater for years. The years of use combined with a lack of cleaning the heater can restrict the gas flow. 

Solution 1: Check The Ignitor

To check if your ignitor is getting enough propane:

  • Turn on the gas valve.
  • Inspect the mainflame of the heater. If it is yellow, that means it IS getting enough gas
  • If your pilot light is blue and the flame is very short, it IS NOT getting enough gas.

Solution 2: How To Clean the Ignitor:

  • Remove the front guard of the heater opening that is covering the ignitor.
  • Dip a cotton swab, Q-Tip in alcohol
  • Clean the ignitor with the swab. Make sure you clean any dirt, spider webs, carbon, rust, or any traces of oil and grease from the surface.
  • Fix the front covering back on and turn on the propane gas.
  • Light the heater and check the flame.

Solution 3: Stuck Sensor at the Back of the Unit

Cleaning the orifice should solve an ignitor problem, but it does not solve lighting issues. If the problem persists, the sensors may be the problem.

The Little Buddy Heater has a sensor at the back of the red start button. Sometimes, overuse and lack of maintenance cause this button to get stuck. If that's the case, the heater won’t light. 

Solution 4: A Good Old School Smack

You can smack the back of the heater multiple times to release the stuck button. And push the button upward to bring it back to its optimal position. There is no easy way of doing this. Once you release the stuck button, the heater will start to light again.

The Buddy Heater is Not Lighting due to a Broken Ignitor 

A broken ignitor can be another reason your buddy heater is not lighting. Try to spark the light to check if it is lighting. If there is a problem with the ignition and the rest of the heater is functioning well, you can light the heater without an ignition for the time being.

Solution: Temporary Fix

Try lighting the gas with a lighter or a match stick. It should solve the problem for the time being. This solution is temporary. You will have to replace the ignitor later for the heater to function properly.

Why Won’t My Little Buddy Heater Stay Lit?

If your Little Buddy Heater won’t stay lit, there can be problems with its thermocouple. The thermocouple is a small device that generates a small electric charge in response to a temperature change. It is located near the pilot light. 

The basic purpose of a thermocouple is to maintain the safety of the heater by maintaining the pilot light. The heater has the thermocouple to automatically shut down the propane supply when there is no flame. So, even if you don't turn the heater off, the thermocouple will shut the propane supply if it does not detect the heat from a pilot flame.

Now, there can be different reasons for a thermocouple to shut the system down. If the thermocouple has moved from its original position and is too far away from the pilot light to detect its heat, the absence of heat can turn it off.

Solution 1: Check the Thermocouple Position

  • Make sure the heater is off.
  • Remove the top of the heater.
  • Expose the front control panel of the heater to uncover the pilot assembly.
  • Remove the bracket that covers the pilot light and thermocouple connection to get the best view.
  • Gently squeeze the thermocouple and pilot flame together so they are close to each other.
  • Make sure not to use force or crush it by pulling it too hard.
  • Use a pair of pliers to gently squeeze the pilot light and bring it a bit closer to the thermocouple.
  • Make sure you don't pull it too hard, as you can end up breaking it.

Solution 2: Block the Wind

The thermocouple heater will automatically shut off if you are in a windy area and your pilot flame is turned off. Your only solution here is to block the pilot flame from the wind.

Why does the main flame of my Buddy Heater stop working in cold temperature? 

The most common problem you’ll face is that the burner won’t start in freezing temperature. There are a few convenient solutions to this.

Solution 1: Reconnect the Thermocouple

  • Take the heater all apart. 
  • Remove and reinstall the thermocouple connection to the tip-over switch.
  • Tighten the gas line nut where the thermocouple signal enters the regulator.

Solution 2: Replace the Solenoid Valve

It should work fine afterwards. 

Try replacing the solenoid valve. The valve is located at the end of the main unit. It regulates the pressure of the second unit. Disassemble the main control valve and swap out the old solenoid valve.

Insufficient Heat Output of Buddy Heater

Insufficient heat output is another common problem you may face with the Little Buddy Heater over the years. This can be  due to many causes:

Clogged Main Burner

After a while, dirt, dust, or oil residue can clog the burner. The best practice is to open it from time to time and clean it from the inside. You can use a compressed air hose to clean all parts of the heater, especially its burner, orifice, and pilot, but sometimes, that still may not remove all the dust and debris trapped inside the burners. 

Solution 1: Q-Tip

You can use a cotton swab with alcohol and clean its parts from the inside. 

Solution 2: Replace the Regulator

  • Take off the grill by popping it off on the outside.
  • Clean the burners carefully.
  • Check the propane tank’s gas level.
  • If you have a sufficient fuel supply. Check the regulator and replace it if necessary.  

Little Buddy Heater Makes Noise

It is common for the Little Buddy Heater to make a whistling sound when on, especially on low settings. But if the noise is more noticeable than before, it can be due to its fan or another loose component. 

Though the recent model of Mr Heater’s buddy heater does not have a fan, the older models do. The noise can be due to a misaligned fan. Dust or debris in the heating element or orifice can also cause noise, especially if a fuel filter is not being used. 

Solutions: Fix the Noise

You can fix the noise problem by:

  • Keeping the heater clean.
  • Making sure there is no obstruction in the burning elements, orifice, connectors, or any fan.
  • Check the fan position for alignment.
  • Tighten all the nuts and bolts to eliminate any rattling sound while functioning.

Why Does My Buddy Heater Gives off a Bad odor?

As we have discussed, Little Buddy is powered by propane gas. Both natural gas and propane are odorless, but to make leaks easily detectable, an odorant (often ethyl mercaptan) is added to give propane a distinctive, unpleasant smell. So if you notice an unusual bad odor in a room or area coming out of the heater, there can be a few causes:

  • Propane gas is leaking.
  • A dirty burner or component.
  • Excessive soot buildup in the burner.
  • Oil residue is being burned with the fire and giving off a smell.
  • Overheating of internal components.

Solutions: Lose the Stinch

  • The odor will go off when starting up a new buddy heater. Run the heater in a ventilated area to burn off any new paint smell or oil residues.
  • Clean the soot or dirt from burners, orifice, and pilot area to make sure nothing else is burning with the flame.
  • Check the propane gas supply and make sure it is not leaking.
  • Ensure there is no chemical smell in the room reacting with the propane.
  • Check the heater parts and ensure they are not overheating and burning.
  • Make sure no combustible material is placed near the heater.
  • Make sure the room, tent, or camping site has plenty of ventilation.

A portable propane heater is a reliable heating solution for outdoor activities. This small heater can stay with you for the long run if you keep up with its basic maintenance. 

Before going on any outdoor adventures, remember to thoroughly inspect the heater for possible issues. Run it in an open space to catch some possible issues if you have had it thrown it in a basement for some time. If you insisit on checking the heater indoors, try heating your garage with the propane heater. As part of your check, ensure its low oxygen sensor works before using it in a room. Do not ignore noticed issues, like a foul odor or unusual sound. They may indicate larger hidden problems, like loose or overheating components. Always take safety measures while using the heater, for your safety and others.


Question: How to clean a thermocouple?

Answer:  Dip the q-tip in rubbing alcohol. Remove some cotton from the q-tip’s end. Make sure it’s slightly smaller in diameter than the pilot tube. Clean the thermocouple

Question: Is the Little Buddy Heater safe?

Answer: Yes, the Little Buddy Heater is safe. A low oxygen sensor on this heater instantly turns it off. This is a safety feature that prevents the production of carbon monoxide.

Question: How long does a Little Buddy Heater run?

Answer: It runs roughly about 4-6 hours. Running it at maximum capacity for 3 hours will deplete the two propane tanks. Running it on medium will last 4 to 5 hours. But running it on low will last about 6 hours.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top