How to Replace a Wick on a Kerosene Heater

Written by dario saandvik
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Kerosene heaters are a reliable and generally safe form of backup heat when power or natural gas fail. Kerosene heaters are small, relatively efficient and clean burning, so they are a great addition to an emergency or disaster kit. Also, since you can store the fuel more easily than wood, they can even be a good backup or alternative to a fireplace in case of last resort. Kerosene heaters generally work by drawing the fuel up through a wick to a circular burner where the fuel is consumed to produce heat. When a wick becomes frayed, old or clogged, it needs to be replaced.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Wick for your kerosene heater's make and model
  • Screwdriver

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Burn the heater until there is no more kerosene in the pump or the old wick, then allow it to cool.

  2. 2

    Remove the fuel tank, batteries and wick adjuster knob by pulling them straight out.

  3. 3

    Open the grill and remove the catalytic converter, being careful not to break its glass chimney.

  4. 4

    Unscrew the screws that fasten the cabinet to the heater base and lift the cabinet straight up.

  5. 5

    Remove the windshield over the burner.

  6. 6

    Unscrew the wing nuts, which fasten the wick assembly to the base, and lift the entire assembly straight up.

  7. 7

    Remove the wick and wick holder by lifting them straight up the draft tube part of the wick holder assembly.

  8. 8

    With a marker, draw a line on the old wick right where it meets the collar of the wick holder.

  9. 9

    Grab the old wick and fold it in on itself to free it from the teeth that fasten it to the wick holder.

  10. 10

    Compare the line you've drawn on your wick to the black line on the replacement wick. If they don't match, draw a new line around your replacement wick to match the old one. This indicates how much should be inserted in the wick holder.

  11. 11

    Fold the replacement wick in on itself and insert it into the holder to the depth you marked. Then release it and let it pop back into shape, engaging with the teeth inside the collar of the holder.

  12. 12

    Slide the wick and holder back onto the draft tube, and spin it around the tube while pressing against the sides to make sure the teeth in the holder engage fully with the wick.

  13. 13

    Replace the wick adjuster knob, removed in step 3, back onto the shaft.

  14. 14

    Move the shut-off switch on the adjuster assembly so that it lowers all the way.

  15. 15

    Rotate the adjuster knob 3/4 of a turn clockwise and hold the latch attached to the knob shaft in that position.

  16. 16

    Engage the pinion on the inside of the wick-raising shaft into the latch so that the wick holder and wick are near the top of the shaft.

  17. 17

    Replace the entire wick adjuster assembly onto the base and test the mechanism.

  18. 18

    Screw the wing nuts back on loosely. Then raise the wick using the knob.

  19. 19

    Tighten the wing nuts, then adjust the height of the wick using the knob so that 3/8 of an inch is showing at the top of the shaft.

  20. 20

    Then replace all the other parts of the heater in the opposite order from when you took them off in steps 3-6.

Tips and warnings

  • Allow the new wick to soak thoroughly, for at least 30 minutes, before lighting.
  • The teeth that hold the wick in place are very short, so be careful during steps 9 and 11.

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