Should My Furnace Smell Like Heating Oil?


image of a homeowner plugging nose because furnace smells like heating oil

Oil heating is used by millions of American households each year as it is a reliable fuel for home heating. It offers benefits like affordable cost, high efficiency, and steady supply, making the cold season easier for your family to bear. If you detect an odor while using heating oil, you may wonder if there is an issue around your house. Home heating oil has a unique smell, but an excellent containment system shouldn’t make this a problem. You may catch a whiff, but the heating oil smell will likely dissipate quickly.

In some rare cases, the heating oil smell may persist. Consult a technician from Wilcox Energy to enhance your home’s air quality and find out the cause of the issue.

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Is It Normal to Smell Heating Oil?

It is not normal for a heating oil smell to linger in your home. However, this can happen in some instances. The scent may sometimes be trivial and fleeting, but it may also be severe and persistent. Here are some of the reasons this issue happens:

Recent Heating Oil Tank Delivery

heating oil delivery

When heating fuel oil was recently delivered to your home, it is likely that the fuel oil smell will linger in the air. The smell should go away on its own after several days. There won’t be an overpowering odor as it will only be a faint smell. If the smell dissipates longer, the delivery crew may have spilled some oil on the ground.

Wilcox Energy is proud to offer the safest and most dependable heating oil delivery services throughout the southern Connecticut shoreline. You can count on our company for fuel delivery without spills or problems. Call us today to learn more about our heating oil deliveries and how we can assist you.

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The Initial Oil-Fired Furnace Use

Heating systems, like a furnace or boiler, are usually idle for long periods. People only switch them on again when the cold season begins. Furnaces tend to emit a burning oil smell the first time you use them for the season. This is normal, and you don’t have to worry because this will soon pass.

A Clogged Furnace Filter

image of a furnace filter replacement

The smell of oil can also point to a clogged furnace filter. Remember that you should replace the HVAC filter regularly. Once every two to three months or more should be enough, depending on several factors in your home. Check to see if you have a blocked oil furnace filter. The smell may be caused by something else if replacing the filter doesn’t change anything.

An Underlying Furnace Problem

The smell could be because of a deeper issue. For instance, it may not be operating efficiently. If it doesn’t achieve 100% oil combustion, the leftover oil can cause the odor to remain. Check the oil burner, as it may have cracks where fumes are being released. Have a certified HVAC technician help you resolve this problem. The heat exchanger may have also failed. These problems require the skill, experience, and knowledge of a licensed HVAC technician from Wilcox Energy.

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Is a Heating Oil Smell Dangerous?

image of question mark depicting question of if heating oil odors are dangerous

The concern of homeowners regarding the smell is rooted in how it may impact their health. This is especially true if your oil tank is installed in an enclosed space like your basement. In fact, the fumes heating oil emits are much less dangerous than natural gas. It isn’t as toxic when you get exposed to low concentrations of oil fumes. Moreover, fuel oil offers enough stability that it will not explode. Still, fumes should be avoided completely.

Remember that you should contact an expert if you notice that the oil smell lingers around your home. Do not ignore it, as this can result in further and more complex issues.
Short-term exposure can cause symptoms that disappear as soon as the oil smell dissipates. Avoid long-term exposure because it can cause severe health issues. If you can’t determine the odor’s source, seek help from a professional HVAC technician right away.

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What To Do If You Smell Heating Oil

image of a to-do list depicting what to do when you smell heating oil odor

Go over the list in this article and do the recommended actions. Change the furnace air filter, examine the ground to ensure there are no oil spills, and inspect the burner for cracks. Switch the heating system off until the problem is resolved to ensure your safety. Keep your home well-ventilated if the smell lingers inside. Open the windows to get rid of the fumes. Ensure that children and pets are away from the contaminated area to protect them.

Use absorbent material to keep the oil from spreading if spills happen during an oil delivery. Remove any damaged materials, if there are any, and use soap and water to clean the surface. These are only basic fixes to minor issues. If you find that you are dealing with a problem that is more than you can handle, make sure to call an expert for assistance. There could be more going on than what homeowners can see or smell. Having a qualified technician investigate is always the recommended course of action.

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Most people have sensitive noses for good reason. Our sense of smell warns us of dangers we may not hear or see. Foul smells mean we can detect issues and solve them immediately. If your furnace emits a heating oil smell, be proactive in determining the root cause. It isn’t normal for your heating system to produce because the oil should be contained in the tank completely. The usual causes are blocked furnace filters, oil deliveries, initial furnace use, and underlying problems with the furnace. An HVAC professional can help you find the reason behind the smell and solve it quickly.

Call Wilcox Energy For Superior Home Comfort Solutions


Wilcox Energy provides high-quality HVAC services and home heating oil deliveries throughout the southern Connecticut shoreline. We have only the best professionally certified technicians for all your HVAC services needs, including HVAC repairs, maintenance, replacements, and more. All of our friendly techs have the skills, experience, and knowledge to ensure correct and prompt HVAC system services at all times. Book an appointment with Wilcox Energy today and receive a free, in-home estimate.

Our quick and competitively-priced fuel oil deliveries keep you safe and warm throughout winter. Be sure to check out our oil delivery plans and financing options. This way, you can customize your oil deliveries to meet your needs. Call Wilcox Energy today for more information.

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For more information about our HVAC services, be sure to contact Wilcox Energy. You can click here to contact us, or you can call us at (860) 399-6218 to find out more. We offer a full line of heating and cooling repairs, maintenance services, and installations. Click the link to view our service area.