How to Clean and Store Your Kerosene Heater

Companion piece to “How to Use a Kerosene Heater.”

As the weather warms up, you’ll eventually need to clean out and store your kerosene heater for the spring. These instructions are translated from my Dainichi Blue Heater instruction manual, but they’re general enough to use for any fan-heater style kerosene heater.Read on for heater maintenance and spring-cleaning instructions!

You will need

  • The original packaging (or whatever box the heater was stored in before you used it)
  • A small amount of clean, unused kerosene to clean out the oil filter
  • A twist tie for the electric cord
  • Your kerosene pump, to remove excess kerosene from the tank and heater
  • Your kerosene storage container, to store your used kerosene and take it for disposal
  • You should NOT store kerosene for more than 3 months. You cannot save your unused kerosene for next winter, so you should try to use it all up. You can dispose of unused fuel at the place where you purchased the kerosene (a gas station or home goods store).

    1. Empty the tank.
    Run the heater until it indicts low or no fuel.

    2. Prepare the electric cord.
    Neatly wrap up the electric cord and secure with a twist tie. You want to make sure the cord doesn’t get damaged during storage.

    3. Empty the cartridge tank.
    After running the heater until it indicates low/no fuel and waiting until it’s cooled down, remove the cartridge tank. Pump any remaining fuel from the tank into a kerosene container.

    4. Clean the fan filter (fan firutaaファンフィルター).
    The fan filter is the filter on the back of the heater through which the heater takes in air. You should check the filter weekly for dust and dirt while you’re using the heater. To clean the filter for storage, remove it from the heater by pinching on the part where the handle meets the base and gently pulling the top part down and out toward you. A simple dusting should take care of it, but if it’s exceptionally dirty, you can dip it in detergent and rinse it out with water. Dry well before replacing. Replace by pushing in the bottom part in first and pushing the filter up onto the fan cover.

    5. Clean the oil filter (油フィルター abura firutaa).
    The oil filter is the concave cap inside the heater tank above the oil plate. When the oil filter and the tank cap fit together, the kerosene flows from the tank into the heater. In a well-ventilated area—preferably outside, in case you spill kerosene—remove the oil filter from the inside of the heater. You should clean the oil filter once a month and before storage. Place clean, unused kerosene in a bucket or bowl (that you will not use for eating), and dip the oil filter in it, letting the kerosene run back out of it. If the kerosene easily pours out the bottom, the filter is clean. If the kerosene slowly drips out the bottom or remains in the cap, there may be debris or dirt blocking it. Clean any dirt out with a paper towel and the clean kerosene until it runs out the bottom easily. Do not clean with soap, detergent, or water. This can ruin your oil filter.

    6. Empty the oil plate.
    There will be some extra kerosene in oil plate of the heater itself.
    Pump excess fuel sitting in the oil plate (the part under the oil filter) of the heater into a kerosene container with a siphon; clear out any debris or water from the inside of the heater. DO NOT USE WATER. Dry the inside of the heater with a paper towel.

    7. Clean the outside of the heater.
    Wipe off any dust or dirt with a damp paper towel. Let dry.

    8. Store your heater and kerosene containers.
    Store your heater in a cool, dry place away from the elements. Japan’s summers are hot and humid, so the best you can do is to store the heater in its box and/or wrapped in a large bag to keep out bugs. Place in a closet with desiccants. Do not store outside or in an outside storage locker.

    Take your leftover kerosene—the kerosene you used to clean the oil filter and the extra kerosene you removed from the oil plate—for disposal at the place where you purchased the kerosene. Kerosene should only be stored for 1-3 months, as it easily breeds bacteria. You cannot save your extra kerosene for the next winter; using old kerosene is a fire hazard. Store your empty kerosene containers in the same place you were storing them during winter—inside in a well-ventilated area like your entryway or laundry room. If you have a little kerosene left in the container, tell the person filling the tank when you fill your tanks for winter. Do not attempt to clean out with soap or water.

    If the oil filter, fan filter, siphon, or tank is damaged or broken, replacements should be available for a reasonable price at the place where the heater was originally purchased, or ask a your local home goods store. Bring your user manual with you, since it will have the brand and model number. My heater’s manual has pictures of all the parts on the last page, which might help you explain what you want.

    Have a safe and healthy spring!

    Leah Zoller is a first-year CIR in Anamizu and managed to run and store her kerosene heater without loss of life or limb, despite her initial trepidation.

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    10 thoughts on “How to Clean and Store Your Kerosene Heater

    1. Cleaning your heaters is insanely important. It was a full year before I cleaned out my aircon heating unit, and I’m pretty sure the guy before me never cleaned it out. Afterwards I got triple the airflow and was for the first time warm in my own apartment.

    2. Your comment inspired me to clean out my air con yesterday. Mine was easy as pie to clean — first time I’ve done it in 2 1/2 years. Oops!

    3. I have tried to clean out the oil filter to no avail. It isn’t extremely dirty, but I think it is giving the heater an error. Any other ideas on how to get dirt/stuff out of the heater besides a paper towel and kerosene?

    4. One suggest I’ve seen is to soak the filter in kerosene to loosen grime.

      You might have to purchase a new oil filter to see if it’s the problem.

    5. As I’m in Japan right now, I am not sure. Maybe you could ask at a local store that sells kerosene heaters.

    6. Nice write-up! I tweeted it out, hopefully helpful to those using a kerosene heater. I just did a blog post on a guide to heaters in Japan, so this is definitely good to know for folks out there choosing to go this route, since I don’t use kerosene heaters.

    7. You can store kerosene. If stored out of light and at an even temperature, it will store for years with no problems!

    8. Adam, for the old kind (open flame), old kerosene may not be a problem, but for the fan heaters most of us have, it’s dangerous. (I had a discussion with my local kerosene seller about this recently.)

      Furthermore, where would you even store kerosene “at an even temperature” in Japan? We have no central air or heating; my storage lockers and my home will go from 5-30 degrees C over the course of the year.

      In other words, no, in Japan, there is not a safe way to store kerosene for long periods of time, so use it all and get your tanks cleaned out before buying next year’s fuel.

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