View Full Version : Help!  Kerosene heater strong fumes!

12-08-2006, 04:39 AM
You know the strong fumes you get off a kerosene heater when you shut it down? Well, mine is almost as strong when its running. The first year I had it, I never had that problem. Im wondering if I need a new wick, but Ive never done much servicing of kerosene heaters, so I dont know what would cause it.

Also, I can tear mine down pretty far, I do it anually to clean it up before I put it into service, Im pretty sure I can change the wick, but how do I do it?

BTW, its a brisk 21 outside and Id like to get it back in working order in the next day or two.... It stinks too much to run any length of time. I also get a headache off it, which Id guess is excessive carbon monoxide. I only ran it a short while before I had to kill it.

Also, Ive heard the term "tune up" the heater, is that just putting a new wick in and make sure it runs right? Is there any other service I need to do to it?


12-08-2006, 04:57 AM
Clean or replace the wick...crap accumulating in the wick and then burning is a big cause of that very problem. Also, buy a carbon monoxide detector that plugs in a wall outlet and squeals if it detects the gas...use it in the same room as the heater (that is if you don't already have one).

12-08-2006, 05:38 AM
Your fuel may not be as clean as it had been, not all kerosenes, like gasoline, are the same purity .

12-08-2006, 05:50 AM
every one I have ever used always had the smell. its just a oder and probly nothing is wrong.
rember a heater is not vented outside as a stove would be.
just running a small lamp will leave the same oder.

12-08-2006, 01:24 PM
Make sure that the heater burns with a blue flame. If it is yellow, it is not working efficiently and pumping out carbon monoxide.

Don't use one very often here in Florida but it is useful information.


12-08-2006, 02:14 PM
Many years ago I had a wick heater that burned kerosene. The first winter I used it in my garage in a vane attempt to stay warm. It didnít work out to well because there were holes in the old garage that you could throw a cat through with out hurting it any.

That first year I had no problems with kerosene fumes. The second year I dumped the left over fuel out of the tank and put in fresh. I should have replaced the wick then. Instead just trimmed it a bit and I used it anyway.

Over the summer the kerosene that had been in it had evaporated quite a bit and gummed up the wick. Back then a new wick only cost a few bucks. I would imagine that what yours takes would be much more expensive.

I finally broke down and got the new wick. With the new wick I could burn #2 fuel oil in the thing without offensive fumes. I had also pretty well rebuilt the garage and replaced the glass in all the windows so it was fairly tight.

I learned my lesson, from then on. When the heating season was over any left over fuel was dumped or burned in something else and the wick was washed thoroughly in lacquer thinner then allowed air dry for a few days then the whole thing was reassembled for the next year.

You might try trimming it and washing the wick in lacquer thinner and before replacing it. Be sure the lacquer thinner is flashed off real well before trying to light it again.
Just trimming it may be all you really need.

12-08-2006, 03:25 PM
Quote[/b] (wb7dmx @ Dec. 08 2006,00:50)]every one I have ever used always had the smell. its just a oder and probly nothing is wrong.
rember a heater is not vented outside as a stove would be.
just running a small lamp will leave the same oder.
Not necessarily. When I was a kid our primary source of heat on really cold nights were 2 kerosene heaters, and I periodically use them now. I have rarely encountered instances where the heater gave off a noticeable odor. Only when it's time to replace the wick does it really smell.

I have used or been around kerosene heaters for years and those heaters rarely, if ever, gave off a noticeable odor, even after hours of extended use. If you have a kerosene heater that's stinkin' up the place every time you light it, you need to clean it thoroughly or replace it.

12-08-2006, 05:04 PM
Like HWD said, normally a kerosene heater puts out NO fumes. You can put your head over the output and smell NOTHING, just get a warm face. If theres odor at all after its warmed up, theres something not right.

Thanks all, Ill check on a new wick today.


12-08-2006, 08:14 PM
I run kero heaters all day and night in the winter. #Here is what I find that causes the smell.

1. #(the top culprit) BAD FUEL. #It should be water white. #Maybe red (if tax dyed) and smell like high quality solvent. #If it smells like diesel or something you may find in an old barn or its yellow/brown #DONT USE IT.

2. #The wick. #How long has the wick been in the heater? #If over 2 seasons... its probably shot.

2a. #Wick maintenance. #Every couple of tankfulls you should dryburn the wick to clean the crud off of it. Here is the general take on how to do it. take the thing out to the garage, drain all the kero out that you can. #Turn it on and leave it on and let it burn dry. #then take it apart and look for tar/black deposits. #let the wick down then clean with a wire brush dipped in WD40 or better yet..CLEAN KERO. # When done, #refuel the heater, wait 30 minutes then try it again

As for the color. #It can be yellow. #The big 17k+ btu tank burner ones (Omni 105 etc) #Will burn bright yellow but will not smoke or smell save for that small moment at light up and when you shut down. #The directional ones should be blue flame and a small crown of flames (blue) on the top. #Again no smell.

If you have any more probs, you can email me off line or see yer local kero heater guy.


12-08-2006, 11:04 PM
Kerosene or paraffin as we call it produces a gallon of water for every gallon burned, and as it has been stated there are different qualities. Jet powered aircraft use kerosene and you know very well that all airports smell very strongly of aircraft fuel.

Its smelly stuff, years ago Esso used to have an advert for paraffin #in Britain #" Pink don't stink " . It did, but not as bad as some others


12-09-2006, 02:11 AM
BNY, thanks, good info. Ill double check my kero and make sure its good, I just topped the 5 gal container about a month ago, it should be good fuel. The wick on is on its 3rd year, Ive never ran it dry, Ill try doing that every few tanks this season.

Ive run these heaters for years, when there right, they put out clean heat with no fumes at run time. I seldom even cracked a window though I did keep an eye on mox levels. :-) The one I have is only 10k BTU, but its plenty to keep the chill off an entire uppper floor of a "small" ranch house.

Thanks again!

12-09-2006, 02:12 AM
Oh yeah, for 12-14 hours of 10k BTUs of heat on 1 gal of kero, Id call that a good source of cheap heat! http://www.qrz.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/cool.gif

12-09-2006, 09:55 AM
Absolutely keep the beasts in tip top operating condition...

Bad news: They all emit CO ...

Please ventilate ... Expecially if you are using one of those " TORPEDO " heaters..... If tuned up correctly, they will heat a fairly large garage from 20 F to 75 F + in about 10 minutes... AGAIN checkthe CO ....

I have used them for years yet always have a vent system .... Soffets and an additional Fan pointed UP ( away from the torpedo ) to allow the CO to get blown through the soffet vents....

Always is cool to have a 220 V heater/fan combo to attempt temperature management after the " TORPEDO " got it warmed up ..

Use the kerosene sporatically to boost the temp....


Everyone knows the CO is a quick CHECK OUT !!!!


12-09-2006, 03:24 PM
All good tips. #I also use (sparingly) kerosene "additives" designed to eliminate odor. #Don't skimp on wick replacement, every two years is mandatory. #The fuel additive helps extend wick life by reducing the tar deposits, and helps eliminate the odor on startup, when the heater is not burning at peak efficiency. #Follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter on startup and adjustment. #Not all heaters are created equal. #Burning the wick "dry" is also necessary after 3-5 tanks of fuel have been burned. #Buy kerosene from a busy station ... it is notorious for absorbing moisture when it sits unused, even (and probably especially) in underground storage tanks.

Check your local fire code regulations ... in many parts of the country, the use of portable radiant or convection type kerosene heaters is prohibited.

And finally, please be sure to ventilate properly! #No matter how clean the heater burns, it still produces some level of carbon monoxide.

I've used portable kerosene heaters in my garage (and in the house during power outages) for more than 10 years without any incident at all. #I always keep one of the windows "cracked open" about 1/2" whenever I use any of my heaters.

Above all, be safe!

Best 73,

12-09-2006, 06:18 PM
CO is a natural product of combustion. #The CO detector is a good idea but it might be going off every time you use it. There is always some CO present. Thus you must #ventilate properly. #Fluke sells a CO detector that heating and cooling pro's use. #Might be worth having an HVAC pro check your room CO out and get an actual digital reading on the volume and see if it is in acceptable bounds. #The other contributions about fuel quality, wick replacement clean up etc are dead on (pun intended).

I used a kerosene garage heater for years without problems and little maintenance. Found a natural gas fuel based ceramic infrared heater. #Burns clean for pennies a #day. #Made by Innerco. No mess no fuss no refuel mess. #I installed it once and never had a lick of trouble since.

http://www.amazon.com/exec....f=nosim (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006L7UZ/nextag-tools-20/ref=nosim)

Dave Hinkley
Neal Harris Service Experts
Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing
Kansas City, Missouri

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