Kerosene Heater Wick Replacement and Maintenance

This Dyna-Glo heater was purchased new about 3 years ago. It’s in need of a new wick and the electric ignitor is not functioning. These are two common issues with these types of heaters. We use our kerosene heaters daily in our outbuildings and this one was used for two winters. The wick would normally have lasted longer but we burned a couple hundred gallons of questionable fuel with this burner which caused the premature failures.  Also, the wick control knob on this heater was broken and needs to be replaced.

We keep four of these on hand. Rotating them yearly so that two are in use, one is a back-up and the fourth is set aside for maintenance. I usually do the maintenance in the late summer but our back-up heater is out on loan plus I’m snowed in today and need something to do.

It’s necessary to have a wick control knob to do this job and this project wasn’t going to go any further without fabricating or buying a new knob. It was faster to make a new one than to order one so a simple T-handle was made from scrap aluminum and is attached to the heater with two setscrews.

The next step is removing the heater’s guard, carry handle and shroud. A screwdriver and a pair of pliers are the only tools necessary to change a wick. The guard and handle come off very easily. You’ll need to remove the wick knob, they usually slide off. Everything should be removed until the wick housing and air-tube are exposed.

Once you expose the wick housing, you’ll need to separate it from the base. On this heater there are 4 wingnuts, one of them is circled in the photo below. Remove the nuts and gently remove the wick housing by pulling straight up. There is a gasket under the housing so it may be necessary to apply some gentle persuasion.

The second photo below shows the wick housing on the right and the tank with air tube on the left. The tank has some fresh kerosene in it so the wick housing was placed on top of a small bucket to catch the excess kerosene left in the wick.

Remove the wick taking note of how it was installed. Compare it to  the new wick to be sure that you have the correct part. Clean the housing, tank and air tube. Check the bottom gasket. Check the function of the wick control and electric ignitor. The ignitor on this heater wasn’t working. A fresh set of batteries and some light cleaning with a toothbrush had it back in good working condition.

Install the new wick per the instructions on the wick. Our wick has pins installed in it which made it very easy to align properly. Install the control knob and work the wick control up and down to be sure that it moves freely.

Reassemble the wick housing onto the air tube. Stretch the bottom of the wick out and down so it doesn’t bind on the air tube during reassembly. Don’t install the wingnuts without checking the wick movement first. Cycle the wick up and down again to be sure that it moves freely.

Here’s a couple tips if you are having problems:

  • Test-fit the dry wick in the housing to make sure it is the correct wick. If it is the right wick, soak it in kerosene and wring it out before final assembly. This seems to make reassembly much easier.
  • Install the wick housing back onto the air tube with the wick at it’s HIGHEST POSITION.

Once the wick moves freely, anchor the wick housing to the base. Clean and re-install the shroud, guard and carry handle. I usually write the wick part number and the date it was changed somewhere on the side of the heater.

For safety’s sake, I always test burn a new wick outside with only a small amount of kerosene in the tank.

This really isn’t a tough job and most heater brands are similarly designed. I usually don’t hesitate buying a used heater if wicks are available and all of it’s parts are intact. I’ve bought a few used heaters and they were all OK after a cleaning and a wick change.

Justus

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