Should My Furnace Smell Like Heating Oil?

image of person plugging nose due bad heating oil odor inside home

Heating oil is a safe and reliable furnace fuel that numerous households throughout the U.S. rely on each year. With its high level of efficiency, affordable cost, and steady supply, heating oil makes it infinitely easier for consumers to weather the cold months. If you use heating oil in your home and happen to detect a strange heating oil smell, you may be wondering whether or not this is a normal issue. Heating oil does indeed have a very distinctive smell, but odd odors should never be a problem if you’ve got an excellent and diligently maintained containment system. Even if you are able to catch a whiff of heating oil, this small will likely abate on its own in no time. In the rare chance that the odor remains, consider calling Hart Home Comfort to identify the source of your problem and improve your indoor air quality (IAQ).

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Is Smelling Heating Oil Normal?

Although having a lingering smell of heating oil in your home definitely isn’t normal, there are times when this might occur. In some instances, this will be a fleeting and relatively trivial issue. While in others, it can be both persistent and quite serious. Following are several things that might explain this problem:

1. The Heating Oil Tank Has Been Recently Refilled

image of a heating oil delivery


Freshly delivered heating oil commonly results in a noticeable smell for a short period of time. After a couple of days have passed, this odor will have probably dissipated all on its own. Rather than being overpowering, this smell will be faint. If takes longer than a few days to go away, it may be that your delivery team spilled some of your heating oil during the delivery.

Hart Home Comfort proudly offers the safest and most reliable heating oil delivery services in all of Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Queens, New York. You can trust us to refill your heating oil tank without spilling oil or causing any other problems. Call us now to get more information on our outstanding heating oil delivery services.

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2. You’re Using The Furnace For The First Time Of The Season

Most heating systems remain idle for months on end. This equipment is only turned on when the outside temperatures start to plummet. The first furnace use of the winter or fall season can often produce a burning oil smell. This is a fleeting odor and shouldn’t be a cause for worry.

3. The Furnace Filter Is Clogged

image of a dirty furnace filter

The smell of oil in the air might mean that you’ve got a blocked air filter in your furnace. You should replace your HVAC air filter once every two to three months, or more often if necessary. Check the filter in your oil furnace to determine whether this is the cause of the smell. If changing the filter does not eliminate the odor, consider some of the other likely causes.


4. Your Furnace Has An Underlying Problem

A strange smell coming from your heating equipment may indicate an underlying problem like inefficient functioning. If the oil is not fully combusting, then the residue could result in a lingering odor. It is additionally important to check for cracks in the oil burner given that these openings can allow fumes to escape. A seasoned HVAC contractor can pinpoint the exact cause of the smell. It may be that you have a failing heat exchanger. No matter what the underlying cause may be, you will need the help of an experienced HVAC technician from Hart Home Comfort.

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Is It Dangerous To Have An Oil Smell In The Home?

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

Many consumers are concerned about how having an oil smell in the home might impact resident health. This is all the more concerning for anyone with a tank in the basement or in any other enclosed space. In truth, heating oil fumes pose far less of a threat than do fumes from natural gas. In low concentration, exposure to this smell is not incredibly toxic. Moreover, due to its inherent stability, fuel oil does not have a high risk of explosion. Notwithstanding these facts, avoiding fumes from any heating fuel is best.

If you have a persistent and pervasive smell of fuel oil in your home, you should always contact an HVAC expert. If you ignore this odor, it may lead to further and significantly more severe problems.

With short-term exposure, any symptoms that residents experience will likely abate as the odor goes away. It is important to avoid prolonged exposure as this can lead to serious health issues. If you are unable to trace the smell back to its source, get the help of an HVAC technician right away.

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What You Do If Your Home Smells Like Heating Oil

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Take a quick look at the information above and take advantage of the included recommendations. Change out the air filter in your HVAC system, look for cracks in the burner, and check the ground for any oil spills. To be safe, keep the heater turned off until the problem is both identified and solved. Keep the area ventilated if the smell is noticeable indoors. Let the fumes out by opening windows and doors. To protect their health, keep all humans and pets away from the contaminated area.

If an oil delivery has resulted in spills, try to prevent this oil from spreading by using absorbent materials. All damaged materials should be isolated and all affected surfaces should be thorough cleaned with soap and water. These are just basic tips for dealing with relatively minor problems. If you ever find yourself dealing with problems that are more severe than you’re capable of handling on your own, think about contacting an expert for help. There may be far more going on than what you’re able to smell and see. Thus, it is often best to have a professional technician drop by and investigate the scene.



People are sensitive to strange smells for a very good reason. This important sense can alert us to dangers that we may be unable to hear or see. Foul pervasive odors make it possible to detect potentially serious issues and resolve them. If your furnace or home has a heating oil smell, then it’s important to proactively search for the cause of this odor. It isn’t normal for home heating systems to emit fuel smells given that all fuel oil should be properly contained in a quality tank. Some of the most common causes include initial use of the furnace, spills during oil deliveries, dirty HVAC filters, and furnace problems. A reputable HVAC professional can both diagnose and resolve the issue quickly.

For Superior HVAC Solutions, Contact Hart Home Comfort

hart-logoHart Home Comfort offers superior HVAC services in all towns in Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Queens, New York. Our team is comprised of the best certified HVAC experts who can handle all HVAC repairs, tune-ups, and replacements. They are knowledgeable, experienced, and committed to always providing superior workmanship.

Hart Home Comfort currently offers the most competitive prices on HVAC services throughout the greater area. You can get higher levels of home comfort and increased energy efficiency with our maintenance solutions. For improved indoor air quality, call us. Our technicians are able to implement the best home comfort solutions for every homeowner’s goals and needs.

Not only are our services affordably priced, but they are also backed by a reliable guarantee. We additionally provide professional fuel oil delivery services that are also fast and affordable. Contact Hart Home Comfort now for an appointment. We can schedule an in-home estimate at absolutely no charge.

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For any questions about what Hart Home Comfort can do for you, give us a call today. Click here to contact us now or call us at (631) 667-3200 to find out more!