woman who smells heating oil in her home

Heating oil has proven to be a reliable fuel for furnaces in American households for numerous years. When the weather turns cold, the low cost, ready supply, and high efficiency of heating oil can certainly make those chilly months a little easier to bear. If your home uses heating oil and you notice an odor, the question many people have is if this odor is an issue. There’s no doubt, heating oil has an odor that is very unique and distinctive, but it should not cause a problem when used with an effective containment system. This is true even if you do happen to catch a whiff, the smell of heating oil should go away rather quickly. If by chance the heating oil smell persists, you might want to consult one of the experienced HVAC technicians from Tower Energy to discover what the exact problem is and to improve the indoor air quality in your home.

Is An Odor Of Heating Oil Normal?

While a noticeable smell of oil lingering in a home is not normal, there are times when this can happen. Sometimes, the reason is rather short-lived and trivial while other times the problem might be more persistent and serious. Below are some of the likely reasons for this to happen.

1. A Recent Oil Delivery

image of a heating oil delivery

Following the delivery of fresh heating oil, it’s not unusual to notice the smell of oil for a short time. Wait a few days and see if the odor simply goes away on its own. If this is the reason you smell fuel oil, it will likely be faint as opposed to a strong overpowering odor. If the smell of oil lingers a bit longer, the problem might be due to the delivery crew accidentally spilling some of the oil onto the ground.

Tower Energy offers the most reliable and safe delivery of heating oil in Hartford County and the surrounding areas in Connecticut. When it comes to spill-free and problem-free fuel delivery, you can always count on us. Call us today and discover what choosing us for your heating oil deliveries will be able to do for you and your family.

2. First Furnace Use Of The Season

It’s common for a heating system to sit idle for extended periods, such as during the warmer months of the year. People will generally wait until temperatures start to drop before they turn their furnace back on. When the furnace is first turned on for the season, it tends to have a slight odor of burning oil. This odor at the initial startup is very normal. There’s nothing to worry about and it should be quite fleeting.

3. The Furnace Filter Is Clogged

oil furnace filter replacement

If the furnace filter has become blocked, you might start to notice an oil smell. Your HVAC system’s air filter should be replaced every couple of months, or more often, depending on the specific environment in your home. If you notice an oil smell, check your HVAC filter. If a new air filter doesn’t resolve the problem, then the problem is likely something else. Call Tower Energy today.

4. Other Furnace Problems

The smell of oil could point to other furnace problems, such as inefficient furnace operation. When there is not 100% combustion of the oil, any leftover oil can lead to a lingering odor. Additionally, fumes could be escaping through cracks in an oil burner. A trained HVAC technician can determine the specific cause of the problem. Another reason for an oil smell is a faulty heat exchanger. No matter what the issue might be, Tower Energy has licensed HVAC technicians that are skilled in resolving your heating issues.

Is It Dangerous To Be Exposed To The Smell Of Fuel Oil?

person asking if smelling heating oil at home is dangerous

Many people are concerned that being exposed to the smell of heating oil could pose a health concern. This is especially true with those who have their oil tank in an enclosed space, like a basement. The truth is, fumes from heating oil are generally much less dangerous than the risk of natural gas. Exposure to oil fumes at low concentrations does not have the same level of toxicity as natural gas. Additionally, fuel oil is stable enough that there is no concern about explosions. Of course, avoiding oil fumes is certainly best.

Regardless, if you notice the smell of oil lingering in your home, you should always give an expert a call. Ignoring this type of problem could lead to issues that are more complicated.

Any symptoms you might experience as the result of short-term exposure will like go away shortly after the oil smell is gone. However, long-term exposure should be avoided because it could potentially lead to serious health issues. If you’re unable to find the source of an oil smell, then it’s time to seek immediate help from an experienced technician.

What To Do If You Notice The Smell Of Heating Oil

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Read through the list and follow the recommendations provided. Look for cracks in the burner, inspect the ground to see if there is a heating oil spill, and replace the air filter for the heating system. To be safe, turn off the furnace until the problem is solved. If the odor is inside your home, make sure to ventilate the area. Protect the health of children and pets by keeping them away from an area that is contaminated.

If you find oil spills from a previous heating oil delivery, use an absorbent material to help prevent the spread of oil. If you find any damaged materials, isolate them, and clean the surface with water and soap. Anyone who is facing a problem bigger than they are able to handle should call in an expert for professional assistance. Sometimes, the problem is more substantial than what a homeowner is able to see or smell. It’s a good idea to have an experienced technician take a look and investigate the problem.


There’s a reason why most people are sensitive to certain smells. This sense of smell helps to warn us of dangers that we might be unable to hear or see. Foul odors enable us to detect potential problems and resolve them quickly. If you have a furnace that smells like oil, it’s important to be proactive in trying to find the reason. The heating oil should be completely contained within the oil tank, so fumes coming from the heating system are not normal. Typical reasons include the first use of an oil furnace, a clogged air filter, problems with the furnace itself, or a spill from a previous oil delivery. An HVAC professional will be able to help identify the problem and provide the services needed to get the issue resolved quickly. Give Tower Energy a call for superior solutions for the comfort of your home.

Call Tower Energy For Superior Home Comfort Solutions

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Tower Energy offers exceptional heating and cooling services in Hartford County and the surrounding areas in Connecticut. Our technicians are the very best NATE certified HVAC professionals and will provide quality repairs, installation, tune-ups, and HVAC replacements. Our technicians all have the experience and knowledge to provide exceptional HVAC service for your heating system.

Tower Energy guarantees our heating and cooling services to be among the most competitive in the area. We have maintenance plans that can help improve energy efficiency and comfort while reducing your energy costs. When you’re interested in taking steps to improve indoor air quality, look no further. Our expert technicians are trained with the industry’s most advanced solutions and can help you achieve your home comfort dreams. We offer affordable services and our work is always guaranteed to meet your satisfaction. Additionally, we offer fast, affordable fuel oil deliveries in order to keep you warm and safe all winter. Call Tower Energy to schedule your appointment today. We offer in-home estimates that are completely free.

Contact us now or call us at (860) 677-7347 to find out more.