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Kerosene Heater Questions

What causes bad odor?

Bad odor is most often caused by low quality fuel. Fuels with high sulphur content, old fuel, and low grade kerosene do not completely burn. These unburnt hydrocarbons collect on the wick and harden, decreasing efficiency and causing bad odor. Check the quality of your fuel or replace it.  

Burnt fuel that has dripped onto the heater can cause a strong kerosene smell. Avoid dripping fuel onto the heater when fueling, clean up drips/spills immediately, and always refuel your heater outdoors. Here is how to clean your kerosene heater.

If the heater is operated at too low of a temperature or the wick is installed too low, incomplete burning of the fuel will cause a bad odor. Properly operate a heater on high, turned down just enough to keep from making soot. Refer to your owner's manual for the proper wick height of your model. Here is a list of common owners manuals.

Why won't my kerosene heater stay burning?

For initial use of the heater, this may be caused by insufficient soaking of the wick before lighting. The wick must be fully saturated to support the burning of kerosene vapors. A heater may still light with insufficient soaking, however, air bubbles develop in the capillaries of the wick, preventing the proper flow of kerosene. Be sure to soak the wick in the down position in a full tank of fuel for at least 60 minutes.

If this problem develops after the first tank of fuel has been burned, the problem may be fuel-related. Low quality fuel or water-contaminated fuel clogs the wick fibers and impedes the flow of kerosene. The best solution would be to replace both wick and fuel. Here is our selection of quality wicks.

Why is my kerosene heater smoking?

Make sure the heater is only filled with quality 1-K kerosene. NEVER USE GASOLINE or any other flammable fuel. Other fuels burn too hot, causing the heater to burn out of control. If there is any uncertainty about the fuel in your heater, you must drain it and replace both wick and fuel. Click here for a wick replacement.

Sooty black smoke is a sign that the fuel/air mix may be off.

Make sure the chimney is seated correctly, or you may notice a very high flame on one side. If the high orange flame is all the way around, the wick may just be too high. Try rolling the wick adjuster knob down within the adjustment range. Click here for the proper installation of a wick.

If these things do not fix the problem, wait until the heater is cool and inspect the burner cylinder. Holes plugged with soot need to be cleaned. Dented and buckled pieces need to be replaced. The wick must be installed properly at the correct height. Refer to the owner's manual for the exact height. Click here for a selection of manuals.

If the wick is installed correctly and there is no obvious defect, it is best to determine the cause by taking the heater to a service center.

Why won't my kerosene heater light?

If this is the first time lighting, make sure the heater is filled with quality 1-K kerosene and the wick has soaked in a full tank of fuel in the lowered position for 60 minutes. This insures the wick is completely saturated with kerosene and lights properly.

The wick and igniter may be positioned incorrectly. The igniter should be positioned above the wick to light the kerosene vapors. If the igniter is in any other position, such as touching the wick or to the side of the wick, then it will not light. You will have to lower and adjust the wick to the correct position under the igniter.

If the igniter is not glowing bright orange, check the batteries. They may need to be replaced with regular duty non-alkaline batteries. Do not use alkaline batteries. They deliver too strong of an initial jolt and may blow the igniter.

Finally, the igniter filament could be broken, which would need replacing. Click here for a replacement igniter.

Why won't my igniter glow?

If your igniter does not glow, the batteries could be dead. Only use regular duty non-alkaline batteries. Alkaline batteries have too strong of an initial jolt and burn out the igniter filament.

If you have fresh non-alkaline batteries and it still won’t glow, the igniter probably needs to be replaced. Prevent igniter burn-out by properly placing the igniter above the wick, lighting, then removing from contact with flames. Click here to replace your igniter.

Why won't my kerosene heater shut-off?

If the wick does not drop when you push the shut-off knob, this is most likely because of tar/carbon build up. Sticky hard tar forms when the heater is operated at too low of a temperature or when contaminated fuel is used. The wick becomes more and more difficult to raise and lower until it no longer slides between the wick adjuster and the primary air tube. Also, water contaminated fuel causes the cotton fibers in the wick to swell, preventing free movement. The wick should be replaced. Click here for a selection of replacement kerosene heater wicks.

Where can I find a manual for my kerosene heater?

See our Kerosene Heater Manuals for some of the popular models. If you don't find your manual, consult the manufacturer of your kerosene heater by phone or website.

Kerosene Heaters vs. Electric Heaters

Kerosene heaters are very efficient and economical. They generate heat at half the price of an electric heater. More so, kerosene heaters are capable of generating much larger amounts of heat. However, kerosene heaters require a high level of responsibility and vigilance. Kerosene heaters can be dangerous if used improperly. Examine our standard safety instructions here.

Why buy a kerosene heater?

What is a kerosene heater used for? Kerosene heaters are often used to heat garages, barns, and workshop areas. Kerosene heaters are used to warm up parts of the home that are hard to heat or to heat one room of the house when the thermostat has been turned down. Kerosene heaters are a good backup heat source for power outages and can be used to prevent the freezing of pipes or to thaw frozen pipes. Click here for a selection of kerosene heaters.

Harvey Leff, Physics Department Chair at CSU explains: turning the central thermostats down from 68 degrees F to 55 degrees F can yield savings of 10 to 50 percent, depending upon outdoor air temperature and other factors. Portions of these saving are then offset by the costs of purchasing portable heaters to spot heat homes. Energy is conserved along with money saved.

Are kerosene heaters dangerous?

Kerosene heaters are dangerous when they are misused by people who are unfamiliar with proper operation. Most risks and hazards are avoided if a heater is used as instructed. Modern kerosene heaters offer a lot more safety features than old-time kerosene heaters, such as safety grills and manual shut-off switches.

For more information on kerosene heater safety, review our standard safety instructions.

Kerosene Heater Indoor Use

Kerosene heaters can be used indoors with a few safety measures. The room must be well ventilated with a window or door cracked open. Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are recommended. Never fill a kerosene heater with fuel indoors. Keep the heater away from combustible materials like drapes, furniture, and pets. Make sure your heater is properly cared for and up-to-date on wick and parts. For more safety guidelines refer to kerosene heater safety information.

How to buy a kerosene heater

There are a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a kerosene heater. First and foremost are safety features. Make sure the provider and manufacturer adhere to all standard safety measures. Look for safety features such as a safety grill and manual shut-off switch. Also, look for a positive wick-stop mechanism, which prevents the wick from being cranked down too low. Click here for safe and up-to-date models.

Consider where the heater will be used and for what purposes. A small household design would be good for heating rooms and saving electricity. A larger size would be needed for heating outdoor areas and garages. Consider the versatility of the heater. Heaters can be used for thawing pipes, creating outdoor space, or used in an emergency power outage. Click here for three quality, up-to-date models.