Kerosene Heater Troubleshooting

Kerosene heaters are portable and lightweight and you can easily install them in any room. Since they don’t require power, they are the perfect alternative heat source. However, kerosene heating systems can be dangerous if not used correctly. 

Therefore, it is essential to address any issue that occurs in a kerosene heater. Let’s look at some of the common problems and how you can solve them.

Kerosene Heater Troubleshooting

How Does a Kerosene Heater Work?

A kerosene heating unit is a portable heating device fuelled by gas kerosene. Kerosene is stored in the sump or fuel tank and is absorbed by the wick skirt. 

The wick’s top is where the kerosene is ignited to start primary combustion using an ignition plug powered by batteries. The kerosene continues to evaporate and ignite in the primary combustion. 

Modern kerosene heaters can be radiant (with reflectors) or convective (air flow-through). They function via secondary combustion. The burner regulates the rate and quantity of air that flows from the bottom of the heating unit. It also re-burns vapors within the baffled chambers of the burner and chimneys.

Related article: Propane vs Kerosene Garage Heater

Why Use a Kerosene Heater?

Kerosene heaters could be an ideal solution in areas where power interruptions are frequent. They are both reliable and cost-effective. 

Additionally, they’re portable, so you can keep the heater close to your home to enjoy the most warmth and then travel with it wherever you want.

Most importantly, kerosene heating systems are potent. Even a moderate-sized kerosene heater will produce hundreds of BTUs worth of warmth to ensure that the whole area and its occupants are warm.

Related article: Best Non-Electric Space Heaters

What Can Go Wrong with a Kerosene Heater?

The wick might need replacement, or the heater may need reconditioning. The heater might not light. The flame could be flickering or dying. The flame can be odorous or smoke. The wick could be burning too fast. The wick adjuster could become stuck.

How Can I Identify a Kerosene Heater Problem?

Kerosene heaters, as with all mechanical appliances, can experience problems. Sometimes, even a heater that appears perfectly fine could fail to light. It could also start to burn and then stop in moments. 

In other instances, it might stay on, but it will produce an uneven, small flame, which significantly decreases the heat output.

If you own a kerosene heater, it is essential to be aware of how to identify these issues in case of an emergency. Here, we will discuss the most frequently encountered problems with kerosene heaters and provide solutions.

  • If the heater doesn’t seem to be lighting, make sure you fill a fuel tank and remove any obstructions within your system. Also, examine the igniter batteries, then modify the wick to touch the top of the flame, and replace the defective igniter.
  • If the flame is flickering or ceases to burn, drain any water present in the area or use a clean-burning wick covered in carbon to tear or cut away the part that is dirty that is part of the wick.
  • If the flame starts to smoke or emits an odor, lower the wick to lessen the flame’s intensity. Move the heater away from direct drafts, check that it is in a level position, burn the wick free of carbon or tar, remove the soiled part of the wick, or cleanse the entire system of kerosene that is not pure.
  • If the wick is burning too fast, cleanse the impure system of kerosene.
  • When the adjustable wick is stuck to the wick, wash the system clean of dirty kerosene and then burn the wick to remove carbon or even the tar or cut away the dirty part with the wick.
  • If the wick is gone through a tear or has been damaged, it is easy to replace it using a series of quick and straightforward actions.

In the sections below, we give you step-by-step guides on how to do these things:

1. If You Notice Smoke or a Foul Odor From the Heater

  • Turn the knob on the burner, then place it on top of the wick if it doesn’t sit at an appropriate level with the wick.
  • Put the heater far from windows or doors that are drafty to keep it safe from the wind.
  • Adjust the wick adjuster knob for a lower wick when you feel that the fire is hot. Reduce the wick until it ceases to produce smoke.
  • Clean the fuel tank and remove the wick assembly and check for kerosene that has gone bad. Reinstall the wick assembly, and fill the tank with kerosene.

2. If the Flame Keeps Flickering or Going Out

  • Remove the fuel tank from the tank and take out the part that holds the wick from the tank. Install the new wick assemblies and replenish the fuel tank with kerosene.
  • Tiny amounts of kerosene light the kerosene heater in the tank for fuel. Let it be without water until the fire begins to fade. Then, raise the wick as high as possible and let the heat source heat up until the flame has gone out.
  • After waiting an hour, light the wick with an open flame and let it burn for a second time. The cabinet should be removed from the heater after it has cooled, and scrub the wick’s tip using a toothbrush to eliminate the ash.

3. The Kerosene Heater Wick Won’t Raise

  • Start by switching off the kerosene heater by hand. After that, take the screwdriver and remove the screws that hold the cabinet to the heater. Once all screws have been taken out, pull it up using the handle and remove the cabinet.
  • The knob used to control the temperature of the wick needs to be removed and then lifted by pulling it toward its base at the back.
  • You will need to turn on the automatic shutoff feature. To accomplish this, simply give the safety shutoff lever the press.
  • Put the heater back together. Then try adjusting the wick adjustment knob so that the wick starts to rise.

4. Kerosene Heater Does Not Turn On At All

  • Adjust the wick adjuster knob to reduce the wick’s height until the igniter plug is near on top of the wick.
  • Take off the cap from the tank for fuel and then examine whether the tank is filled with fuel or not. Fill the tank up with kerosene if required.
  • Drain the fuel tank of kerosene to check whether any water has gotten into it. The tank should be filled with only kerosene. Remove, replace, and put back in place the wick assembly as well.
  • Replace the batteries on the igniter plug if you notice that the plug is not glowing when you press an igniter. Replace the ignition plug if replacing the batteries doesn’t fix the issue.

Related article: Does Kerosene Go Bad, and How Long Does It Last?

Final Thoughts

It is simple to use a kerosene heater but it can sometimes need a bit of maintenance. If you wish to keep it in working condition, clean it every now and then. Also, there are a few parts that need regular replacement. 

We hope we have helped you diagnose and solve your kerosene heater problem. But if you still cannot pinpoint the issue, it might be time to call an expert.

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