This fall I decided my old OR-77 OmniHeat Kerosene Heater by Sengoku was kind of past its prime, held to working order by fireplace matchstick props and tugs with a paper clip hook, and I bought a new one because eight years of service from an appliance with a short warranty is pretty good even if you bend the rules. I expected the new OR-77 to perform just as well, and was surprised that when I fired it up for the first time it sputtered, fumed and faded literally into black. Actually died down and then the flames went out. Whut? This is a new heater, people kind of depend upon these things to work right. So, of course, I blamed the problem on fuel, must be water in the fuel. Drained the tank, changed the wick, put in new fuel that worked just fine in my other kerosene heater, and the same thing happened. Light, flare, sputter, die.
So, since I don’t depend on that heater and have a backup, I’ve spent the last two months trying to sort this problem out, and will post another article about that adventure soon. Along the way, though, I looked into ways of filtering water out of kerosene before it goes into the heater tank. This turns out to not really be the problem with the new Sengoku OR-77 but that is a story for another day.
The gimmick I will recommend to anybody, whether you are working with gasoline or with kerosene, is Mr. Funnel. Mr. Funnel is a fantastic gizmo and will improve the quality of your fuel. If you buy kerosene out of the local gas station tank instead of the pure yet fantastically overpriced canned fuel at Walmart, a Mr. Funnel can extend the life of your kerosene heater’s wick and save you many problems. The basic premise is this: if you pour water-contaminated kerosene through Mr. Funnel, the water stays in the funnel and the kerosene goes through. Impossible! you may say, but even the instructions on the funnel say otherwise and challenge you to pour a glass of water into the funnel and check this out. I did that, and the water stayed in the funnel. Do that with kerosene and you see the kerosene going through, all that’s left is the dregs in the sump, and when you examine that out of suspicion that you paid that money for nothing, you see water boiling up through it. Makes you want to say, Dang my Dingies! and I did say that, just for fun.
Pretty much any problem you have with a kerosene heater, people who are supposed to know about such will tell you, it’s water in the fuel. With Mr. Funnel in the works, you can eliminate water in the fuel. I will have more to say about the real problems in another post.
I would suggest that you get a jug to save the dregs that Mr. Funnel filters out, because it will still be mostly kerosene and when you get a jug full of dregs you can filter it again and save that fuel.
Now, although Mr. Funnel did and does improve the quality of the fuel I use, and only needs an occasional (and probably never) flushing to remove dirt from the filter screen, it did not solve the problem with my OR-77. It did totally eliminate the culprit that all the experts told me was the problem. The fault was not the fuel. I will post about that next.