Like it or not, we have to start thinking getting ready for whatever Old Man Winter has planned. There will be lots to do getting the home front buttoned up. Caulking, weather-stripping, installing storm windows and/or doors, tuning up the furnace (see tips on this in a separate article this month), cleaning chimneys, and so forth.
One activity you might be involved with is breaking that kerosene-fueled space heater out of mothballs and getting it ready for action. Kerosene heaters abound and features and functions will vary by model, manufacturer, and age of the heater. So, with the heater out of storage, it is time to get it ready for action.
My advice is to get the manual that came with the heater and follow the maintenance instructions. If you cannot find your manual, this hand site offers dozens of manuals, and conveniently, also offers replacement parts: http://www.kerosene-wicks.com/kerosene-heater-manuals.htm
For example, the manual for the Kero-sun Omni 105 recommends attending to the condition of the wick, wick adjuster, air tube, and igniter. The manual spells out a pretty specific process for prepping the wick and for replacing it if needed. It next directs you to scrape any tar or deposits off the top of the wick adjuster and air tube. Using a soft cloth, remove all dust and other debris. And then check the igniter for proper operation. If it is not working, remove it to see if the coil is broken or otherwise damaged.
Now that your heater is polished, tuned, and ready for duty, refresh yourself and your family on safe operation. Number one in safety is this, never operate any heater that burns a fuel in a confined space. ALWAYS provide for proper ventilation. Carbon monoxide is a killer. Odorless and colorless, the only indication that you are being exposed is a headache, if you are lucky. Don’t take a chance; ventilate, ventilate, ventilate.
Placement– Make sure the heater is placed on a level surface for stability, keeping it 3’ away from walls, drapes, furniture, and any combustible material. Avoid placement in drafty spaces as drafts can cause uneven burning and other issues. You might also want to place it so children and others are not likely to touch or run into it and burn themselves.
Fuel– Only use water-clear ASTM. K-1 kerosene (per the Kero-sun manual…your heater may have different requirements). Never fuel or refill inside the home and never when the heater is still hot. Mixing fuel and a hot device is a recipe for burns and accidents. Avoid overfilling or filling to the very top with cold kerosene. As the heater operates, the kerosene will warm, expand, and potentially overflow.
Never use anything other than kerosene. While the Kero-sun manual was not specific on the reasons, I suspect they include the risk of explosions, the heater burning way too hot, and generally bad outcomes.
Kerosene heaters provide a nice toasty heat and properly used, are quite safe. Follow the instructions for your heater and you’ll have a nice, warm winter. A great return on your energy investment! Oh, by the way, in case something turns the heater into a fire, you do have an extinguisher for a class B fire handy, right?
Oh, by the way, in case something turns the heater into a fire, you do have a Class B extinguisher handy, right? If not, visit this website: http://www.femalifesafety.org/types-of-extinguishers.html