Share This Guide
A kerosene heater is an excellent tool for keeping you and your family warm during power outages or when your furnace has a breakdown. But does a kerosene heater have to smell when in use? How can you keep your kerosene heater from smelling?
You can stop your kerosene heater from smelling by only using the 1-k grade kerosene, the highly refined kerosene recommended by many manufacturers. Make sure that the kerosene is not leaking anywhere especially if the tank is full and is positioned on an uneven surface.
While Kerosene heaters are not made to give off a smell when in use, a few things can cause your heater to produce unpleasant odors.
Below is a table showing possible issues that can make your kerosene heater give off an unpleasant smell and the main fixes:
|CAUSES FOR KEROSENE HEATER SMELLING||POSSIBLE FIXES|
|BURNER SEAL IS NOT PROPERLY SEALED||SEAL OFF THE BOTTOM OF YOUR kerosene HEATER|
|ROOM NOT WELL VENTILATED||TRY HAVING SOME VENTILATION IN THE ROOM|
|WRONG FUEL IN USE||USE RECOMMENDED 1-K GRADE KEROSENE|
|DIRTY FUEL TANK||CLEAN UP THE FUEL TANK|
|WICK NOT SET PROPERLY/ BURNER BURNING TOO LOW||PROPERLY ADJUST WICK|
|WICK IS NOT LOWERED AFTER TURNING OFF HEATER||LOWER IT DOWN AFTER EACH USE|
|BURNER IS NOT PLACED ON LEVEL SURFACE||STABILIZE THE BURNER|
|LOTS OF CARBON BUILD UP ON WICK||REPLACE WICK WITH A NEW ONE|
8 Ways to stop your kerosene Heater from smelling
1) Seal off the burner unit.
A common reason for a kerosene heater producing strong odors is a burner that is not properly sealed. Smell and strong odor will leak out of the heater through the bottom of the burner if you do not properly seal it.
To fix this problem, try moving the burner left or right to ensure it’s in place and there is no odor leakage.
2) No proper ventilation.
Your kerosene heater needs some ventilation in the room where it’s being used. Proper ventilation will not only minimize the smell that can come from your heater but also keep away unwanted fumes like carbon monoxide from your burning heater.
Of course, you don’t have to fully open the windows because you do not want the warm air to escape. Just make sure that at least there are air vents.
3) Use the proper/ recommended fuel
Kerosene heaters can not just use any type of kerosene, so using the wrong kerosene in your heater could explain why it produces a smell.
Most Kerosene heater manufacturers recommend using the high-grade 1-K kerosene, a highly recommended fuel for heating.
- Four 1-gallon containers of K-1 grade kerosene
- Clean burning
- Petroleum based
- USA made IMPORTANT NOTE: Kerosene can only be shipped within the continental US. Due to national and international regulations, kerosene CANNOT be shipped to Alaska, Hawaii or internationally. Kerosene can only ship ground service.Important: Keep away from children. Do not swallow. Avoid skin contact.
1-k offers some benefit over other types of kerosene including
- It is stable. it can stay for a long time in your heater without problems
- It burns clean. It produces little to no smell when you are using it.
Important: Never use gasoline or any other fuel not specified for use in your heater. Such fuels are not heating fuels and might explode.
4) Wick not properly adjusted
A wick is a cylindrical piece of cloth that sucks up the kerosene from the fuel chamber for burning. The wick has to be properly adjusted and maintained to ensure that you are not burning too low which would cause smoke and smells. And it also doesn’t have to burn too high because that would produce carbon monoxide.
If there is a smell coming from the heater, inspect the flames and if it’s burning too low, try adjusting the height of the flames to about ½ inch above the burner. ( But be sure to check the best height in the user manual for your specific model)
5) Dirty Fuel tank
Do you keep kerosene inside your heater while storing it for some time without using it? If so, then your tank could have gunk in it. Whenever you plan on not using your heater for a while, empty the kerosene chamber before storing it.
So, if you had stored your heater with kerosene inside, it’s probably gunky, and you’ll need to remove the old kerosene from the fuel tank and clean it before reusing it. To clean the tank do this:
- Empty the fuel tank having the old kerosene
- Use new kerosene (ideally 1-k grade) to clean your tank
- Now remove any kerosene that you used for cleaning the fuel tank.
- Fill your tank with new kerosene and start up your heater.
6) Lower the Wick After Turning Off the Heater
It is normal for kerosene heaters to emit a bit of smell each time you are starting or turning off your heater. But turning off the heater without lowering the wick will cause a significant odor to leak out of the heater. This is because the kerosene will move up the wick and into the catalytic converter, which will create a lot of smelling smoke each time you light up your heater.
7) Stabilize the burner
Make sure that the burner is on a flat surface inside your heater. Otherwise, if not, that would be causing the smelly smoke. Try stabilizing the burner and check if the problem is resolved.
Safety tip: When you are using a kerosene heater, try checking on the flames in the burner to ensure that it’s neither too low (which is bad) nor too high (which is also bad)
8) Wick Needs a replacement
Other times, the wick gets carbon deposits to build up on it and could be causing the smelly smoke.
To fix this problem, inspect the wick and if you notice that it’s just the top part with carbon deposits, try trimming it and see if that fixes the problem. Otherwise, the wick might need a replacement.
We have seen in this guide that while kerosene heaters are not designed to be smelling when in use, some things can cause them to smell whether they are in use or not..
To sum it all up , in order to stop your heater from smelling or producing smoke, use the recommended fuel for your model. Do not store fuel in your heater when you aren’t using it for a long time. Clean the wick and keep the room ventilated when using your heater. Thanks for reading.
HVAC tech with over 30 years of experience. Retired and doing repair work on the side around Madison County, AL.