Propane heaters are a common choice for people who want to heat their homes. However, some propane heaters emit a smell that is similar to kerosene. This smell can be unpleasant and cause health problems if it is breathed in.
So, why propane heater smells like kerosene?
Firstly, propane heaters smell like kerosene because of the burning of particles and trapped gasses. Secondly, a kerosene-like smell may be emitted due to the built-up soot inside the heater. Finally, a cracked heat exchanger might be the reason behind the kerosene smell.
This bit is merely part of the entirety of the article. By reading to the end, you will understand everything regarding this issue. Begin reading here.
Are Propane Heaters Supposed to Smell Like Kerosene?
No, propane heaters aren’t meant to smell like kerosene. Usually, propane heaters have no distinct smell. However, some companies add a chemical to these heaters for which there is a strong odor.
The odor is similar to rotten eggs and this chemical’s used to simplify any propane leak investigation. This chemical is also used in space and room heaters along with propane heaters.
Yet, you’ve probably found a kerosene-like smell in your propane heater thus you’re here. Although you can get rid of the kerosene smell easily, it’s not normal.
What Does it Mean When You Smell Kerosene From Propane Heater?
If you’re smelling kerosene from your propane heater, most likely it’s an internal problem. Malfunctioning propane heater parts can also be a conclusion to this symptom.
The temperature control unit of the propane heater may be damaged as well.
3 Reasons behind Propane Heaters Smelling Like Kerosene
In this chart, I’ve included the 3 most common reasons for this issue.
|Burning of gas and particles before ignition||
|Built-up soot inside the heater||
|Cracked heat exchanger||
Below, the detailed reasoning has been given. Check it out.
Reason 1: Burning of Gas and Particles
This is one of the most common reasons for a kerosene-smelling propane heater. When turning on the heater, gas is supplied by the pilot light or the electronic ignition.
When burned, that small amount of gas saturated in the heater produces the kerosene smell. Usually, this odor dissipates in just a few minutes.
Dust and debris are problematic particles for propane heaters. It’s more applicable to old propane heaters. Starting up old wall heaters and propane heaters can be tough because of the piled-up debris.
When firing up the propane heater, the debris and dust can burn and produce a kerosene smell.
However, it’s not limited to this. Gaseous particles also can be taken into account here, especially aerosol. For instance, air fresheners, insect sprays, etc can burn up inside the heater. The burning of these gasses also smells similar to kerosene.
There are 2 solutions to fixing this issue. For the 1st solution, you’ve got to clear up the gas around the area. Make sure you don’t spray any aerosols or flammable gasses around the propane heater.
If you’ve sprayed any type of aerosol around the heater, don’t ignite the heater in that area. In this situation, take a small cloth and gently wipe the propane heater before starting. Also, shift the position of the propane heater and then ignite it.
The 2nd solution to this problem is to clean the propane heater. Before starting the propane heater, make sure there’s no dust and debris around the heating tray.
If there is, clean it off with a vacuum cleaner. This will prevent the particles from burning up and get rid of the kerosene smell!
Reason 2: Built-up Soot inside the Heater
Over time, soot can build up inside a propane heater. It is a natural process but it can cause many problems. Your propane heater smelling like kerosene is one of them.
When soot burns or gets extremely hot, it emits a smell like kerosene/lighter fluid. You might even see the propane heater flaring up while doing so.
Cleaning the soot from your propane heater is an easy process. Follow the steps below-
- First, turn off the propane heater and disconnect the propane tank.
- Then, take off the mesh trays from the top of the heater.
- After that, vacuum the mesh trays from top to bottom.
- Next, take a tub big enough to fit the trays. Put some water and dishwashing liquid on it and mix it up. Put the trays in the mixture and wait 5-10 minutes.
This mixture will soften up and cause the soot to come right off.
- Then, let the trays dry. You can leave them out overnight for a couple of hours to fully dry the drays.
- Finally, place the trays back in the propane heater and enjoy.
Reason 3: Cracked Heat Exchanger
A cracked or damaged heat exchanger inside your propane heater can lead to this problem. Due to a cracked heat exchanger, smelling oil fumes is a normal thing.
Also, heaters may become dysfunctional due to this reason. For example, toe kick heaters fail to blow due to malfunctioning heat exchangers.
Some common signs of a cracked heat exchanger are-
- Abnormal soot buildup
- Heater being too noisy
- Eyes watering while the heater is on
- Cracks and corrosion inside the heater
- Different colored flames
The only solution to this problem is replacing the heat exchanger of your propane heater. You can take it back to the shop you bought it from. Alternatively, you can consult a heater mechanic to get the best help.
Try to use good quality propane fuel to keep the heat exchanger and other components working.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
Can smelling propane make you sick?
Yes, smelling high concentrations of propane can make you sick. Propane vapor is not toxic, but it is an asphyxiating gas. Propane will displace oxygen from your lungs and cause labored breathing if exposed to high concentrations. If you’ve any suspicion that you have inhaled significant amounts of propane, seek medical help immediately.
How do you know if you’ve got a propane leak?
You can know you have a propane tank leak by looking for a few signs. Firstly, apply soapy water or a special leak detector solution to the propane tank’s regulator. Make sure it’s on the valve that connects to its cylinder. Then, cautiously open the regulator valve. If you’re seeing any bubbles, there is a leak.
Do propane heaters explode?
Yes, propane heaters can explode. However, propane burns and explosions caused by propane are pretty rare, and so are the injuries. Propane heaters only explode when it’s pushed to their maximum limit. So if you’re moderately using the propane heater whilst maintaining rules, you should be fine.
The Final Words
By now, you should know why your propane heater smells like kerosene. Along with the reasons, you can fix this issue as well!
Try to act quickly on these problems. Heater-related problems can be fatal and should be dealt with as soon as possible!
Have a great day.