Smelling Oil? Is it dangerous?

Hey Genie, I smell oil. Is it dangerous?

Great question! First of all, to relieve your anxiety, heating oil fumes are not toxic. (Home heating oil itself is also biodegradable, contains no carcinogens and it is non-explosive.) While the smell of oil may be unpleasant, it is not dangerous. However, in an enclosed area it can produce some disagreeable short-term effects, including nausea, dizziness, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Of course, some people are more sensitive to these fumes than others. There are a few warnings that should be kept in mind when you are smelling oil in your home.

Genie Warning #1: if you’re smelling oil fumes inside your home, there’s a problem somewhere. If you have a portable oil burning heater that you move from room to room, it’s possible it fell over and you have a spill. If you have an oil burning furnace, but no portable heaters, then it’s possible that your tank or pipes that pump oil into your house may be leaking oil.

Genie Warning #2: While it’s not common, cracks can form in the oil burner of your oil furnace system. The burner has a nozzle that sprays a thin mist of heating oil and then ignites it, creating heat to warm the air circulating in your home heating system. The oil ignition occurs in a pressurized compartment called the exchanger, and if it has a crack oil fumes can leak out, creating a smell. Don’t ignore it! These cracks can eventually grow larger and damage your system unless they are discovered early and repaired.

Genie Warning #3: Whenever fuel is burned – any fuel – carbon monoxide is produced. This is safely vented outside by your system, but may get blocked if there’s a combustion issue in your oil furnace, like a cracked combustion chamber. An annual inspection and routine maintenance will insure proper ventilation.

Genie Warning #4 (and final): even though the dangers of carbon monoxide are much lower in a house with an oil heat system as opposed to a gas furnace, a CO detector from your local hardware store (about $20) is always a good idea.

So here’s Genie’s good news/bad news answer to your question. Good news: The oil smell is not toxic. Bad news: there’s a problem with your system.

Serving communities in Baltimore County, Carroll County and Howard County in Maryland, Aladdin Heating Oil is committed to providing FAST, AFFORDABLE, ONLINE heating oil service at the lowest prices possible.

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