If you have an oil furnace, you’re probably aware that an oil leak can cause a serious problem. Before attempting any repair, look for signs of a leak. When you spot a leak, contact a professional to assess and fix the problem immediately. However, if you don’t see a leak, but can still smell oil, there may be a simple fix.
Of course, if you are uncomfortable working on your furnace, or have little experience working on your house, you’ll probably want to contact a professional to fix any problems. If you don’t have someone you can call, consider contacting your heating oil provider: they can often suggest a competent technician in your area.
Step 1: Make sure that the heating oil tank is filled to at least 30 percent capacity. If it is lower than that, the low capacity could have allowed air to enter your furnace and consequently the entire system. If this is the case, plan on scheduling a fill and checking to make sure that there is no damage to your furnace. The smell should dissipate once the tank is filled.
Step 2: The second possible problem is a worn nozzle in the burner of the furnace. A nozzle that needs to be replaced can cause a very small leak, but a very large smell.
Step 3: Clean the nozzle on the oil furnace. If that doesn’t take care of the problem, note the model number of the nozzle and order a replacement part. Install the new nozzle immediately to eliminate the oil smell.
Step 4: Finally, an oil smell could indicate a dirty oil filter. Use your owner’s manual for information on cleaning and replacing your oil filter. In most cases, the filter for your furnace can be cleaned, and does not have to be replaced.
If you can’t find the source of the problem, be sure to call a professional to locate the problem and fix it. You may also want to ask a technician to assess the condition of your oil furnace in the fall before it receives heavy use to avoid any of these problems before they occur. Scheduling regular heating oil deliveries will also reduce the chance that you will run low and cause a problem with your system.