What Are The Dangers Of Oil Heaters

When it comes to heating appliances, oil heaters are among the most commonly used by many households. However, these devices haven’t had a good run in the past few years, with numerous accidents and fires caused by them.

Oil heaters run on oil as their fuel source, which is why we recommend that you take extra caution if you’re planning to use this for your house.

Although the suppliers and manufacturers claim that they’ve taken safety precautions to prevent fire accidents, it doesn’t change the fact that there are still reported cases of fires and explosions to oil heaters.

What Are Oil Heaters?

Oil heaters are devices that use oil as a fuel to produce heat. The oil heater, sometimes known as an oil-filled heater, column heater, or oil-filled radiator, is a type of convection heating often used in house heating.

It’s filled with oil, but it’s heated by an electric heater and doesn’t burn any oil; instead, the oil is used as a heat reservoir.

How Do Oil Heaters Work?

Metal columns with holes inside contain cavities that allow a heat transfer oil to flow freely through the heater. Oil is then heated by a heating element, which passes heat to the metal wall through convection via conduction into the walls. 

Finally, the heat is then transferred to the environment through air convection and thermal radiation. The oil is not burned but instead becomes hot and transfers heat to your house when this happens.

Benefits of Oil Heaters


As mentioned earlier, oil heaters use oil as a heat reservoir. Due to this, this type of heater is considered among the most energy-efficient heating appliances to use.

This is because an oil heater will keep your room hot and warm even after turning it off by using the oil reservoir.

Safe to Use

Oil heaters do not burn oxygen or reduce humidity, which makes them the ideal choice for newborns. For this reason, they are good choices because they won’t cause dry eyes, suffocation, or skin rashes.


With oil heaters, there are no fans or other moving parts that can cause noise. The absence of these components means that they will generate less noise, which makes them ideal for households with children.

Great at Retaining Heat

As mentioned earlier, oil heaters use oil as a heat reservoir. This means that you can turn it off, and the room will still be warm even after turning it off.

Perfect for Overnight and Large Room Use

Oil heaters can maintain a constant temperature of up to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for overnight and large room use.

While warmth is an important aspect when sleeping, you’ll still need to use these devices with caution.

Dangers of Oil Heaters

Explode When Their Thermal Fuses Fail to Shut Them Off

The thermal fuse on an oil heater is a safety device and usually has to be replaced if it fails. The unit may not shut off or work at all, and if a new one is not installed, you run the risk of a fire starting.

Oil heaters are widely used as an alternative to natural gas, propane, or electricity due to their cost-effectiveness and ability to be used in spaces with little or no power.

The fact that they have been around for so long is a testament to their usefulness. But the fact that they still catch fire at alarming rates shows how dangerous they can be.

They Produce Fumes

Oil is known to produce fumes, which aren’t good if inhaled for a prolonged time. This fume becomes apparent as soon as you refill the oil tank of the heater or when a leak develops in it.

Although oil fumes are less harmful than gas exhaust, they can hurt the health of those around you. As a result, those exposed to gases in a confined space can experience nausea, stomachaches, or headaches.

Moisture Problems

Unlike other household heating appliances, oil-filled heaters don’t remove moisture from the surrounding. This makes the environment feel and look more humid than usual and eventually attracts mold and mildew.

Mold can cause serious illness, especially for those who have health issues such as asthma. In addition, exposure to moisture in an enclosed space creates a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.

The most effective way to prevent this is by opening windows when you use the heater and ensuring that the unit is ventilated.

High Wattage

While high wattage doesn’t pose a significant danger to you and your family’s health, it can damage your wallet. Oil-filled heaters usually operate on a high wattage and can go as high as 2,200 watts.

This is a relatively significant amount of electricity used during the cold months of winter when you want to keep your heating bills under control! If you can’t plug in any other form of heating device, then it might be best to use a lower-wattage heater with a thermostat.

Burns Chemicals

Off-gassing is another significant danger of using oil-filled heaters. It is the act of releasing chemicals into the surrounding area, which can make your environment toxic.

Off-gassing is mainly caused by oil residue that gets heated up to several hundred degrees while you’re using your heater.

Oil heaters should be used in well-ventilated spaces to prevent this from happening. Also, replacing old heaters with new high-quality ones can cut down on the amount of off-gassing.

Irritating Clicking Sound

As you can easily tell, this isn’t a danger that poses a threat to the life of your family or pets. However, it can be highly irritating and prevent you from getting any rest or relaxation.

Oil heaters have an internal pump that pumps the oil into the system, making them emit this annoying clicking sound throughout winter. So as far as possible, try not to keep your heater near your bed. But if that’s not an option, wear earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to keep the sound away.

Although oil heaters are less expensive than other types of heating units, they do pose some risks. For this reason, it’s important to take the proper precautions and follow safety guidelines when using them.

Safety Precautions to Take When Using Oil-Filled Heaters

Below are some precautions that you can take to prevent accidents from happening:

  • Always ensure that your heater is in good working condition before using it. Inspect the unit periodically for any leaks, cracks, or rust. It’s also advisable to check if the smell of oil is noticeable, indicating a leak.
  • Extensions, wiring, or any other device that cannot properly distribute the required radiator load should not be used. There is a significant danger of fire because of overheating wiring. This might result in fire-related incidents.
  • Always trust in thermostats and the radiators’ built-in mechanisms—once you decide to use an external tool or technology, you risk overheating.
  • Please fasten your oil-filled radiator to a location before letting children near it if it has caster wheels. It’s safer to use stationary systems to avoid any accidents.
  • Oil-filled heaters are typically safe, but it’s a good idea to see whether they include any form of overheat protection. This may include tilt switches that switch off the heater automatically if something goes wrong. 
  • Radiators, unlike other space heaters, do not glow red and produce heat indirectly through oil. However, they can become quite hot. So, keep the machine at least several feet away from any combustible items.
  • Keeping pets and small children away from an oil-filled heater’s hot surface is another safety precaution. Some radiators include a guard, but not all of them do.
  • Lastly, most manufacturers advise against storing your oil-filled heater in any damp space. This is because these appliances heat up slowly, and damp conditions can accelerate the process.

Alternatives to Oil-Filled Heaters

Instead of buying an oil-filled heater, you can also use:

Ceramic Heaters

Ceramic heaters are incredibly lightweight and generate a substantial amount of heat from a little package. Despite heating up fast, these heaters maintain their plastic shells cool since they are more energy-efficient and safer than others.

Infrared Heater

An infrared heater or heat lamp is a device that uses electromagnetic radiation to transfer energy from a higher temperature body to a lower temperature one. The wavelength of the peak of infrared radiation varies depending on the temperature of the emitting body, which ranges from 750 nm to 1 mm.

Kerosene Heaters

Kerosene heating is a form of space heating that utilizes a portable, unvented, kerosene-fueled device. The capillary action of the wick draws kerosene from the tank. The wick heats the Kerosene until it becomes a gas, then burnt to generate heat via convection or radiation.

Propane Heaters

Like the name suggests, a propane heater uses propane fuel as the source of heating. The majority of users utilize propane heaters with blowers in larger spaces, including garages, patios, and even patio heaters, without electricity usage. Fuel is supplied to a tank and then ignites manually or automatically.

Frequently Asked Questions About Oil heaters

Are Oil Heaters Safe to Leave On Overnight?

There is no danger of leaving them on overnight if the unit is functioning, especially if the thermostat is operational.

Can Oil Heaters Cause Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

No, most modern oil heaters don’t produce carbon monoxide.

However, it’s best to install a CO detector to ensure that you’re not left vulnerable to CO poisoning.

Is Oil-Filled Heater Safe for Health?

Like mentioned earlier, oil-filled room heaters don’t burn oxygen or reduce humidity, making them the ideal choice for newborns. In addition, they are beneficial since they won’t result in suffocation or dry eyes and skin rashes in this context.

Does an Oil Heater Use a Lot of Electricity?

Oil heaters consume around 1500 watts of power, which may be a lot or less, depending on the amount of heat you need for your house.

The only problem is that oil-filled heaters take a bit longer to heat your room. This may result in high wattage usage, which can become costly in the long run.

Last Words – Are Oil Heaters Dangerous?

To sum up, we’ve learned that oil heaters are not always the best option for heating your home. When choosing a heater, think about what you want and then do some research on different types of appliances before making a purchase.

And don’t forget to maintain your new appliance with regular service visits from an experienced technician!