Kerosene Heaters: Use with Caution

Kerosene Heaters

James J. Shields, PE, Mechanical Engineering Consultant ::::
Case Synopsis: A family wanted to add a self-contained heater for when the power goes out. They went to a nearby home and building supply store to select and purchase the heater. The store salesman recommended a kerosene heater, which could provide independent heat upon a loss of power. The salesman recommended a kerosene heater rated at 23,000 BTU/Hour, and as a feature of the heater sale, he assembled the heater and provided brief operational instructions.
Shortly after the heater was put into service in the first floor living room, fumes and smoke emanated from the heater during operation, causing soot on the walls and ceiling and extending into the upstairs. The homeowner contacted the store where the heater was purchased, but received only limited advice about ignition and wick adjustments to address the operating problems. Since the heater could not be adjusted to operate properly by the homeowner, it was eventually taken out of service and placed in storage in the homeowner’s garage. Legal steps were initiated by the homeowner to recover the costs of repairing the damage to the home. Continue reading “Kerosene Heaters: Use with Caution”