Torches such as Bernzomatic are great tools that serve a multitude of purposes, but sometimes they can stop working out of the blue. So if your torch won’t stay lit or has a weak flame, I’m going to help you fix it before you go out and buy a new one. And if it’s not working after trying these fixes I have a few recommendations for replacements that will suit your needs whether you’re welding in a crawl space or putting a nice sear on your steak. But to get straight to the point though – if your propane torch won’t stay lit or light at all, first check that the ignition wire is making a spark, and secondly clean the inside of the burn tube. Almost all propane torch issues are going to be fixed by just checking the ignition wire and cleaning the burn tube.
Propane Torch Issues
Most common torches that you can buy are pretty straightforward devices, and most issues can be fixed by using a simple step-by-step process. This guide is mostly targeted at propane or map-pro torches like a Bernzomatic Torch, however, these steps will also help with other torches. Some of the common issues that can occur with propane torches are:
Propane Torch Won’t Light or Stay Lit
The most common issue you might face with your propane torch is that it won’t even ignite. If your propane torch isn’t igniting at all you should follow the step-by-step guide below on fixing a propane torch. This is usually caused by an issue with the ignition wire on trigger-assisted models or a form of blockage in the main burn tube (see photos below). Luckily, disassembling the main components of your device is easy and can be cleaned without any special tools.
Before trying to adjust anything, make sure your propane tank isn’t empty. A typical 14oz propane tank bottle or cylinder contains roughly 0.9 lbs of propane, and with a standard 13,000 BTU tip will only last 1.5 hours of continuous use. For other propane tank sizes and how to figure out if your tank is empty check out my article on how long propane tanks last and how to check if it’s empty. I included some standard sizes as well as a calculator you can use to see how long your tank will last.
If your torch is lighting but won’t stay lit, try cleaning out the burn tube thoroughly. In most cases when a torch won’t stay lit it’s because some form of debris got lodged in the tube and is restricting gas flow. Another issue may be the airflow regulator if your model has that, however, these are not as common. Try reducing or increasing the amount of air until your flame is consistent. And lastly, make sure you are not tilting your torch unless it has a pressure regulator. If your model does not have a pressure regulator, tilting the fuel bottle can allow liquid fuel to enter the burn tube and extinguish the flame. Only units that have a pressure regulator will work while inverted.
If your propane torch lights, but the flame is weak, first make sure that your fuel tank is not low. Replace the tank with another full fuel tank and see if the issue persists. If the flame is still weak on a full fuel tank, try cleaning the burn tube. Some units will also contain a small mesh screen that can get clogged up and you should be able to clean it with some compressed air.
When working properly, propane torches can reach temperatures upwards of 3,600F and can be used for a variety of applications such as soldering, brazing, and light welding jobs. When equipped with an oxygen-fed system utilizing a separate oxygen tank, temperatures can reach as high as 5,100°F. For more information on propane torch temperatures, or to compare other fuel types such as Map-Pro or Acetylene, check out my article: Propane Torch Temperatures vs Others ((MAPP, MAP-Pro, Butane, Acetylene)
If your propane is producing a weak flame, you will have issues performing these task and may think your torch is not capable of handling these tasks, however, it may just be as simple as cleaning the burn tube.
If you’re having a difficult time starting the flame on your torch, try turning down the flow of gas when you are igniting the torch. Most torches will light easier with a low flow of gas. You can turn the gas up once it’s lit.
Torch Does not Work Upside Down
Depending on the model of the torch you have, you may or may not be able to use it inverted. If the unit you have contains a pressure regulator, you should be able to use it while inverted. Most manual ignition torches will not have a pressure regulator. If your model does contain a pressure regulator but does not work upside down, and you have followed my step-by-step process to fixing a torch, you should get a replacement unit as your pressure regulator o-ring may be damaged and leaking. These leaks are not as easy to identify as they might only occur when the bottle is inverted.
Steps to Fix your Propane Torch
I’ve put together this step-by-step guide on how to easily fix 99% of torch issues, if you follow these simple steps it should start working again. If not, it may be time for a new torch.
To the right, I’ve included a diagram of the parts of a common torch, the Bernzomatic TS4000. Depending on what model you have and whether it’s manual or trigger igniting, your torch may look different. However, the two important parts to notice are the burntip and burn tube.
Before working on your torch, make sure to remove the fuel tank.
1. Check The Ignition Wire
First, you should check that the igniter is working properly by removing the burntip (the top portion of the tube that is removable). To do this you may need to use pliers to twist it off. I recommend using a cloth wrapped around the burntip so you don’t cause any additional damage. Once the tip is removed you’ll see a small wire near the top of the burn tube, this is the ignition wire. Click on your ignition button and see if you can see an arc between the ignition wire and the outer wall. If you do not see a spark when clicking the igniter you can fix this by moving the wire closer to the outside wall of the burn tube. The wire should be around 1/8″ from the burn tube wall. If you still do not get a spark you can use a piece of sandpaper to clean the tip of the ignition wire as well as the top of the burn tube. Hopefully, you should now see a spark, and you can reconnect the fuel tank to your torch and test it out.
2. Clean The Burn Tube
If you are getting a spark and the torch still isn’t lighting after reconnecting to your fuel tank, remove the fuel tank again and clean the burn tube. Sometimes cobwebs or dust can enter the tube and create a blockage that will stop the flow of gas. Using a soft pipe cleaner is the best as you it will easily clear out any debris without damaging the ignition wire. You can also use compressed air to try and dislodge any dust or remaining particles after cleaning.
And that’s it! There isn’t much to propane torches, and these two simple steps should get your torch working again. And if nothing has worked, its time to…
Replace Your Faulty Unit
Lastly, if you followed these steps and your torch still isn’t igniting or isn’t operating normally, it’s probably time to replace the unit. While torches don’t require a lot of maintenance and are hard to break, they won’t last forever. Before purchasing a new torch I’d recommend looking up your product’s warranty and seeing if it is still covered, some manufacturers such as Bernzomatic offer limited lifetime warranties on certain products.
I personally recommend the Bernzomatic TS8000 for its versatility and functionality, since it has an adjustable flame and can use propane, and MAP-Pro gas. The link above takes you to Amazon where it’s now the same price as its predecessor, the TS4000 which I used to recommend as well. And for something simpler, the TS3500 version is great for those who want a more inexpensive torch that is very versatile and great for home crafts.
The TS800 is able to use both propane and MAP-pro fuel and has an adjustable flame, whereas the TS4000 only uses propane and has a fixed flame. The TS3500 version features an adjustable flame similar to the TS8000 and has an ergonomic handle that is great for using on projects for extended periods of time.
Both of my recommendations are Bernzomatic because the company produces high-quality products with high-quality materials and is made right here in the USA.
This high-performance torch has an instant on/off ignition that is great for ease of use, and is what I used for all my pictures above as I use this model at home. I like it because it features a lock button that you can use to keep the flame on without holding the trigger, and when the lock is off the torch is instant on or off. It can also use all both propane or MAP-Pro, which can be great when you want to use a fuel with a higher heat transfer for faster jobs. The flame tip on this model can also be adjusted by increasing or reducing the flow of gas through the tip, allowing you to produce a large more distributed flame, or a higher precision pencil tip flame.
This model also contains a pressure regulator so you can use it inverted, which can almost be a necessity when working in a crawl space. Overall, this torch just has everything you need and is extremely easy to use.
If you’re just looking for a do-it-all torch for around the home this is it. It’s a step up from a manual ignition torch and it has a very ergonomic handle which makes it great to use, even for someone who doesn’t normally handle torches. It also has an adjustable flame which is great for DIY projects and simple household repairs. This model also contains a pressure regulator, so just like the TS8000T it can be used while inverted. And if you’re just looking for a simple torch head and want to save money, the WT2301 is about half the price of the TS8000, and only a few dollars more than the cheapest torch head, but comes with a trigger on/off switch which is really nice.
Hopefully you found this guide helpful and my step-by-step process has your torch working again! If you have any questions or recommendations please feel free to reach out. I strive to give the most accurate information I have, so if you see an error please let me know and I’ll be quick to address it.
Have a great day and God Bless!