Kerosene Heater Wicks
Most people don’t really give much thought to the wick in their kerosene heater. It’s certainly easy to forget about it, especially when you likely only use your indoor kerosene heater in limited situations, such as when your power goes out.
But make no mistake about it – the wick in your kerosene heater is the heart and soul of the unit. I’ve seen people with kerosene heaters that are 15 to 20 years old that are continue to run very efficiently. The reason? These folks took care of their heater and they always replaced the wick when needed. When you’ve got a bad wick or fuel that is contaminated (mostly with water), not only will you be faced with a strong odor when operating your heater, but it won’t be anywhere near as efficient, costing you more money to operate it.
It is important that you use the wick specified by the manufacturer of your indoor kerosene heater. Don’t be reeled in by a cheap package of wicks at your local hardware store. You’ve GOT to make sure you buy the correct wicks if you want to have an efficient, clean running heater. Once you know the right wick to purchase for your heater, don’t buy the generic brand. Either by the one made by the heater’s manufacturer, or one from CUI, who offer quality replacement wicks at nearly 1/2 the cost of the manufacturer wick. Just make sure you are buying the correct wick for your heater!
If you purchase cheap discount brand wicks, the wick will likely be too thin. This will cause kerosene vapors to pass through the wick gap, which will overload the catalytic converter and cause a kerosene stench. Many people will try to blame “bad fuel” for the vapor problem. While this CAN be the case at times, 99% of the time I run into this, the problem is the wick. You know the saying – you get what you pay for. The same holds true with wicks. DON’T BE CHEAP WHEN IT COMES TO WICKS! If you do, it’s only going to cause you frustration with the smell and it’ll cost you to replace the wick with a quality wick.
The top section of a fiberglass wick will have fiberglass fibers matted to a lower section of cotton fibers. Both sections are joined together by an orange cloth band. Fiberglass wicks are great because they are very long lasting thanks to them being very tough. Unlike other wicks, fiberglass wicks can be burned “dry” without doing any harm to the kerosene heater.
So, when should you replace an indoor kerosene heater wick?
With a fiberglass wick, you can burn it dry. With non fiberglass wicks, you want to replace it when it becomes thin and ragged. It’s really important that you check the wick anytime you use your kerosene heater. This is especially true when you are only using it in emergency situations. If you need to replace the wick, do it before you put it away so that you’ll have a pleasant experience with it the next time you need to use it.
If the wick burns with a ragged edged flame, or if the flames doesn’t reach up to curl around the top plate on the catalytic converter by at least 1/2 inch.
If the heater is hard to start. Check the side of the wick you can easily reach. If the wick is hard, this means that tar has formed inside the wick.
If the flame doesn’t spread immediately around the entire wick after lighting.
If the wick has been contaminated by water. You’ll know this when the flame is at the perfect height for a period of time, but then it starts to burn irregularly and uneven. This situation can also be caused by a poor quality fuel.
Something that you need to do every year is to replace your wick. It’s cheap and easy to do. Why take a chance on a poorly running heater? The bottom line is that if you take care of your indoor kerosene heater, it’ll take care of you when your power goes out and you need it for an emergency heat source.
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