Table of Contents
- Why Can’t You Fix A Leaking Oil-Filled Electric Heater?[+]
- What To Do If Your Electric Heater Is Leaking Oil?[+]
- How To Know If Your Electric Heater Is Leaking Oil?
- Reasons For Oil Leaks In Electric Radiators
- How To Avoid A Leak In Your Heater
- How Often Do Leaks Happen In Oil-Filled Heaters?
Is your oil-filled electric heater leaking oil onto the floor? Your first question will be whether it can be fixed.
Unfortunately, the short answer is no. This article explains:
- Why leaks can’t be fixed in this type of appliance
- What to do if you find a leak
- Why leaks can happen and how to avoid them
Why Can’t You Fix A Leaking Oil-Filled Electric Heater?
You should not attempt to fix a leak in an oil-filled electric heater. These appliances are filled with oil and sealed permanently by the manufacturer.
The units aren’t designed to have cracks in the metal casing restored or re-sealed.
All manufacturers will tell you not to attempt to fix a leaking appliance. But you may be wondering if that’s just the “official” line, and a bit of tinkering with sealant can solve the problem.
Avoid advice suggesting “fixes”
I see people asking on DIY forums if they can apply a homemade solution. Here’s an example question:
We have a [heater] that has a small leak on the edge seam. Is there any way I can repair the seam at the joint?
Most of the respondents correctly tell this person not to attempt to fix the appliance.
Some add warnings about the problems and hazards that could be encountered if the appliance owner attempts to turn the unit on again.
However, a small number of people mistakenly suggest applying a sealant or trying to weld the crack. Please don’t follow that kind of advice!
What To Do If Your Electric Heater Is Leaking Oil?
If you’re reading this article, you may have spotted a leak and are wondering what to do if you’re not supposed to fix it.
Mandatory: turn the appliance off and unplug it
The first and most important step is to turn off the unit and unplug it from the power source. This is because a leaking unit has the potential to be a hazard.
A side-effect of turning off the unit is that the appliance will start to cool down. This is in your favor. The heated oil is thinner than cold oil and is closer to the viscosity of water.
In other words, hot oil leaks faster than cold oil.
You may find that the leak stops at this point. But don’t be complacent. The heater is still broken and should not be turned on again. If the unit heats up, then the leak will simply start flowing again.
Optional: put an inflammable tray or other material underneath the appliance
If you’re lucky, your unit is standing on tiles. If you are unlucky, your oil-filled unit is standing on carpet.
Either way, you may wish to slip some form of inflammable material underneath the unit. If you don’t want to tip the unit in any direction, then gently roll it onto a tray or safe surface.
I don’t recommend that you lift and carry the unit unless absolutely necessary. You don’t want to jostle the liquid inside the casing. That could simply make the leak flow faster.
Contact the supplier if still in warranty
If your appliance is still within the warranty period, then you should have no problem with getting a replacement.
Leaking is thankfully rare, and manufacturers will want to record a specific issue with your brand and model.
Recycle or dispose responsibly
People get confused over whether these appliances can be taken to recycling centers. That’s understandable, as the policies change from region to region.
Check out our article on how to dispose of oil-filled heaters safely and responsibly.
How To Know If Your Electric Heater Is Leaking Oil?
It’s somewhat alarming that oil leaks aren’t always obvious. For example, there may not be enough of an odor to draw your attention.
Here is a complaint from one owner on a DIY forum:
I’ve got a free-standing one in a spare room and I noticed that there was a small puddle-shaped stain on the carpet underneath it. But there was no smell and it wasn’t a particular color.
If your appliance is standing on tiles or linoleum, then you’re likely to notice dark drops of liquid.
However, leaks are less noticeable if the unit is standing on a dark-colored carpet.
But remember that leaks are rare. My advice is to take precautions if the unit falls over or is bumped hard when setting it down on the floor.
If you’re aware that the unit has been jarred, then you should periodically check beneath it over the next few days.
If you usually place the unit on carpeting, shift it aside and run your hand along the surface. If there’s oil, your fingertips should feel it.
Reasons For Oil Leaks In Electric Radiators
Leaks are rare but they do happen. When you understand how and why, it’s easier to avoid the circumstances.
The reason is most likely due to any of:
- Manufacturing errors causing improper welding and sealing
- Fractures at the joins and seams due to bangs or drops during transportation
- Weld joints that have decayed over time
In my opinion, the third reason (decay over time) is the least likely to occur. I base my judgment on years of hanging out in DIY forums and hearing other people’s experiences.
Complaints indicate that leaks most commonly happen when the appliance is turned on for the first time. The appliance owner will notice the problem in a period from twenty minutes to a few hours.
In these cases, the unit may have been faulty due to a manufacturing issue. Because cold oil is thick, the leak may not become apparent until you turn it on and heat up the oil.
What can also happen here is that the unit was perfect when it left the assembly line. But someone dropped it from a pallet when transporting it from the factory to the retail shop.
You may also have let it drop when moving it from your car to your house. So, you know what the cause of the problem was!
Whatever the reason, your appliance is still under warranty. Use your consumer rights to get it replaced.
How To Avoid A Leak In Your Heater
You can’t control whether there is a problem in the manufacturing process or whether a transport handler dropped the box with your appliance.
However, oil leaks could also occur if the appliance owner handles the unit roughly or lets it drop while moving it around.
One of the great advantages of these appliances is that they can be moved from room to room. I’ve dropped a few due to my own clumsiness.
My best advice is to take particular care when wheeling or lifting the units around your house or apartment.
How Often Do Leaks Happen In Oil-Filled Heaters?
I’ve owned at least twenty oil-filled electric heaters in over thirty years of house-sharing and home ownership.
Some stopped working after a few years for no apparent reason. Other issues were clearly my fault. Unfortunately, I’ve knocked a few over while moving them around the house.
However, I’ve never had a heater develop an oil leak – not even the ones that hit the ground hard.
So, I used the reviews on the biggest consumer purchasing site to understand the most common complaints around leaks.
From what I could tell, there was no particular brand that was most problematic. These are just some of the brands that I saw reports of leaking:
- Aikoper Radiator
- DeLonghi Dragon
- Dreo Radiator Heater
- Honeywell Energy Smart
- Kismile 1500W
- Schallen Portable
These are by no means the only brands that consumers have reported as leaking. However, they are some of the most popular on one of the online retailing giants.
Interestingly, there were no reports about Pelonis ceramic heaters. Pelonis is no longer an American-based company, but still maintains its reputation for reliability.