Once heating season is over and you won’t be using your kerosene heater for a while, it is important you store the heater correctly. Improper storage could mean issues like clogs, soot and bad smells when you try to light your heater next heating season.
Here’s how to put your kerosene heater in storage so it lasts longer and will be ready when you need it next.
1. Remove Kerosene from the Tank
Kerosene doesn’t go bad quickly, but it does gather water. The water allows bacteria and algae to grow in the kerosene, causing it to become gunky.
Many people claim they’ve fired up heaters with 25+ year old kerosene left in the tank and it burned fine. Yes, old kerosene will burn. But bad kerosene can damage your heater parts. I wouldn’t risk it. Remove the kerosene each season.
If you accidentally left kerosene in the tank, here’s how to clean old kerosene.
How to remove kerosene from your heater:
Heaters with fiberglass wicks:
- Wait until the fuel gauge is on low
- Once cool, take the heater outside.
- Burn the heater until the flame goes out.
Heaters with cotton wicks:
- Make sure the heater is cool.
- Take the heater outdoors.
- Use a siphon pump to remove the kerosene.
2. Remove Batteries
Remove the batteries for the heater’s igniter. Otherwise, they will slowly drain in the heater.
3. Wrap Cord
If your kerosene heater has a cord, make sure you wrap it properly. Otherwise, the cord can twist and break. I prefer the “over-under coil” method for cord looping and then secure it with a zip tie.
4. Check Wick
Depending on the condition of your wick, you may need to trim, clean or replace it.
- If the wick is very dirty, you can remove deposits with a brush or comb.
- Trim cotton wicks 1/8 inch each year to preserve them.
- Worn out wicks should be completely replaced before putting the heater in storage
5. Clean the Heater
You will need to clean the entire kerosene heater before putting it in storage. Otherwise, it will be a magnet for dust and debris while in storage and be even harder to clean next heating season.
Warning: Use non-combustible materials to clean your kerosene heater, such as metal brushes. If you must use combustible materials, such as towels or newspaper, make sure they don’t leave any residue on the heater; they can ignite when you light the heater.
To clean a kerosene heater:
- Disassemble the main parts: Such as the safety grill, body, tank, and inspection window.
- Inside the tank: Use 1-K kerosene to clean inside the tank. Never use water or other cleaning materials. After scrubbing inside the tank with 1-K, siphon out the dirty kerosene and dispose of it.
- Body of heater: Use a mixture of ammonia or oven cleaner to clean the outside of the kerosene heater.
- Inspection window: Remove this and clean both sides with soapy water. Make sure all soap residue is off and it is completely dry before returning it.
6. Pack the Heater
You will need to pack up your kerosene before putting it in storage or you will end up with a dirty, dusty heater that may even have insect nests inside it. Ideally, pack the heater in its original box and Styrofoam padding.
Do not put a trash or other plastic bag over the heater. The bag can trap moisture and cause your kerosene heater to rust. If you do not have the original package, then put a breathable cover over it instead of plastic.
7. Storage location
Kerosene heaters should be kept somewhere cool and dry so they don’t rust. Ideally, you will store the heater somewhere in your home. If you can’t, the heater should be fine in your garage or basement — just make sure it gets packed well so insects and rodents can’t nest in it.