The wick is the heart and soul of your kerosene heater. If you use good fuel and regularly clean your wicks, they should last a long time.
However, you will eventually need to replace your kerosene heater wick if you want it to burn well.
When to Replace the Wick in a Kerosene Heater?
Here are the signs that you may need to replace the wick in your kerosene heater.
- The flame is ragged, uneven, irregular, or won’t reach ½ inch above the burn plate
- Lighting the wick is difficult – see how to light a kerosene heater
- The wick lights but it takes a very long time for it to get to normal burn position
- Moving the wick position is difficult
- The wick feels hard or has visible deposits of hard material
- The wick is thin and worn out
Always Try Cleaning the Wick First
As you use your kerosene heater, the wick will get dirty with deposits. These deposits make the heater burn inefficiently and can make a lot of smoke and bad smells. Instead of immediately replacing the wick, first, try cleaning it.
Fiberglass wicks are cleaned with “dry burning.” Cotton wicks are cleaned by trimming the top ½ inch off. You can also clean cotton kerosene wicks by brushing deposits off them.
If the problem is water contamination, you can soak the wick in wood alcohol for about 5 minutes to drive out the water. Just make sure all the alcohol has completely dried out before you replace the wick.
If the wick can’t be revived with cleaning, then it is time to replace it.
How Often Should I Clean My Kerosene Heater Wick?
You should clean or trim your kerosene heater wick after first using it for 1 week or about 3.5 gallons of kerosene.
After that, clean or trim the wick whenever the visible part starts looking gunky or feels hard – usually after every few tanks. You may need to clean your wick more frequently if you use low-quality or old fuel.
How Often Should I Replace My Kerosene Heater Wick?
If regularly cleaned, you shouldn’t need to replace your wicks often. Ideally, though, you should replace the heater wick at the end of the season so you have a new one ready for the next season.
How to Replace a Kerosene Heater Wick
1. Find out which type of wick your heater uses
Check the product manual to make sure you get the right type of wick for your kerosene heater.
- Cotton or fiberglass
- Pinned or unpinned type
Brand name does matter with heater wicks. Cheap, generic wicks are often very thin and won’t burn properly. You’ll end up with a lot of smoke and air pollution.
2. Make sure the heater is cool
Never do maintenance on a hot heater. It must be completely cool first.
3. Lower wick
Trigger the emergency shutoff. This will drop the wick to its lowest position.
4. Remove cabinet
To do this, you will first need to remove the screws which hold the cabinet in place. Then lift off the cabinet.
5. Remove batteries and battery case
Take out the batteries. You will see a screw behind them. Unscrew this. Gently pop out the battery case. Detach the cables so you can completely remove the case.
6. Remove base
To remove the base, you will first need to:
- Remove the fuel cap
- Pull the wick height knob off
- Now you can lift the base off
9. Put wick height knob back on
You’ll need this in place so you can move the wick later.
10. Remove wind cover
This isn’t attached with any screws. You should be able to just lift it out.
11. Remove wick adjuster assembly
To do this, you will first need to:
- Remove the four wing nuts which hold it in place
- Lift the assembly off.
- Put the assembly upside down.
- Make sure the gasket stays in the proper position when you lift it off.
12. Remove wick cover
The wick is in the adjuster assembly that you just removed. To access the wick, you will need to remove the cover. To do this:
- Make sure the assembly is upside down.
- Twist the assembly to put in the open position.
- Remove the cap.
13. Take out the old wick
There are teeth that hold the wick in place. To get the wick off these teeth, you will need to fold them inwards. Then pull it out to remove.
14. Place new wick
Getting the new wick in place can be tricky the first time. You will need to fold it in half so it fits inside the wick assembly easier. Make sure the studs on the new wick line up with the holes in the wick assembly.
15. Replace wick cover
Once the new wick is in place, return the wick cover to the assembly. Twist it into the closed position. Make sure the bottom of the new wick is pulled out from the assembly.
16. Raise new wick turn knob clockwise
To do this, you will need to turn the wick height knob to the highest position.
17. Replace the wick adjuster assembly
- Make sure the new wick doesn’t bunch up when replacing the assembly. There should be no slack in the wick. The entire assembly should go on easily without any need for force.
- Once on, replace the four wing nuts. Do opposite sides first to ensure all sides are evenly tightened.
18. Test wick
- Raise and lower the wick with the height adjuster knob
- Test the emergency shutoff and see if the wick lowers
- If the wick doesn’t move properly, put the wick in again
19. Reinstall wind cover
Just place it on top and make sure it is aligned.
20. Replace base
To do this, you will need to:
- Remove the wick height adjuster knob.
- Put the base back on
- Replace the wick height adjuster knob
21. Replace battery case
To do this:
- Reconnect wires
- Screw in place
- Replace batteries and close
22. Lower cabinet onto base
Secure into place with the four screws you removed earlier.
23. Let wick soak
The wick needs to soak up fuel before you ignite the heater. Let it soak for at least one hour in the down position.