How To Stop Kerosene Heater From Smoking | 5 Easy Quick Fix

Are you looking for how to stop kerosene heater from smoking? Hear this: you just bought a nice-looking kerosene heater.

It does its job; it’s warming up the house – but it’s also incredibly smokey. So you are sacrificing your air for warmth, and that does not sit well with you.

When that happens, what can you do to stop your kerosene heater from intoxicating you to death? Is there something you can do to fix this problem, or do you have to get used to a warm life without breathing?

Stoping Kerosene Heater From Smoking and Smelling

If your kerosene heater gives off a cloud of sooty black smoke, it’s a sign that the fuel air mix may be off. Ensure the chimney is seated correctly, or you may notice a very high flame on one side.

Avoid using the heater in drafty places and adjust the wick using wick adjuster knob to the correct height.

5 Reasons Why Kerosene Heaters May Start to Smoke and How To Stop It

1. You Are Using the Wrong Fuel

Kerosene vapors comes in two grades: K 1 kerosene and K2 kerosene. The 1-K type is the only one that is accepted for unvented, portable kerosene heaters.

Therefore, if your first instinct was to use K 2 because “kerosene is kerosene,” you might want to rethink that. Not every type of kerosene is the same.

That being said, even if it says “K 1 kerosene” on the package, it doesn’t mean that it’s perfect for use. For example, red-colored K 1 kerosene features dyes, which means that the burn hot won’t be as safe as it is with clear kerosene.

If you’ve been using the red-dye type until now, consider changing the current kerosene to a clear type. The quality of the fuel will also determine the smoke level and the smell the heater produces.

For example, cheaper kerosene might cause carbon buildups – which, in turn, can lead to sooty black smoke and carbon monoxide poisoning. So ensure that you are only using high quality kerosene and not low quality kerosene if you don’t want your heater to start sending smoke signals and strong kerosene smell. You should also check if you are using diesel fuel.

2. You’re Using the Wrong Wick

Yes, the type of wick that you are using might also influence whether your kerosene burner unit releases smoke or not. For example, if you are using a generic wick adjuster, it might not fit properly on the unit.

If you see that your kerosene heater usually has a wick that has a cotton bottom and a fiberglass top, don’t use a wick entirely made from cotton just because “it’s cheaper.”

In most cases, the manufacturer will give you a recommendation as to what type of kerosene heater wick you should be using – so make sure to follow them religiously.

Buy the wick that they told you to. Also, make sure that you replace the wick as per their recommendations because an old wick might be a smoking wick.

If the wick adjuster is definitely right and it’s also new, then there’s a chance that you might have installed it too high. Adjust it so that it’s at the height recommended by the manufacturer of your unit.

3. You’re Burning the Wick Dry

This might not specifically be a problem with some kerosene units, but some kerosene heaters recommend against burning the wick dry – something directly related to the quality of the wick.

If you burn it dry when you shouldn’t, it might lead to an accumulation of smoke. Check the manual and see if you’ve been burning the wick correctly, also check the fuel tank if its empty.

4. The Chimney Isn’t Correctly Seated

Another way of how to stop kerosene heater from smoking is by placing the chimney the right way. Kerosene heaters might release smoke if the burner chimney has not been seated correctly. Check to see if there’s a very high flame condition on the heater’s side.

If you see that one side has a high orange flame than the others, then it might mean you need to fix the chimney’s seating.

Sometimes, it might require a small adjustment range on your part – but in other cases, if it’s been manufactured that way or if you can’t properly adjust it, you might want to take it to a professional.

Make sure that you also keep the chimney clear. Sometimes, even if the chimney has been correctly seated, it might have buildups that can lead to the creation of smoke.

Check the heat reflector as well – if the kerosene heater is old, it might have gathered dirt and dust.

5. There’s a Problem with the Cylinder

If you’ve had a forced air kerosene heater for a while, it has a new (and correctly adjusted) wick, but it still seems to escape the smoke, then it might mean there is a problem with the burner cylinder.

Check whether it’s clogged or dented. If it got clogged, you might be able to unclog it yourself or to have it taken to a professional. However, if it is dented, there is nothing else to do, and you will have to take it to a professional.

Final Thoughts

While it’s normal for kerosene heaters to produce little bits of smoke now and again, the amount should not be too high.

If the smoke is continuous and visible, try the tips above. Once you find the problem, you should be able to fix it easily.

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Jesse Pinkman is a passionate HVAC professional writer who grew up repairing any home appliance on which he could lay his hands. He is responsible for ensuring that every article we publish is SPOT ON. When he's not in the office, he enjoys hiking, watching football, and spending time with his family.