How To Dispose Of Oil Filled Heaters Safely

Because oil is a hazardous waste material, you can’t simply dispose of your oil filled heater with your domestic trash. But you may also have difficulty getting your local waste depot to accept it.

We’ll explain how to dispose of your unit safely, with lots of tips for finding the right local places that will take the unit off your hands.

Why Can’t Some Recycling And Disposal Sites Accept Oil Filled Heaters?

The metal body of an oil filled heater is recyclable, but the oil contained inside is a hazardous material. Some recycling and disposal sites aren’t set up to handle hazardous waste.

I advise that you call in advance and ask the depot. These heaters are popular, and the staff should be able to give you the closest alternative site that accepts them.

Why Cant Some Recycling And Disposal Sites Accept Oil Filled Heaters

Can You Dispose Of Oil Filled Heaters With Standard Home Waste?

The larger heaters are unlikely to fit into your waste bins. But some of the smaller modern units have only a few fins and very slim. It may be tempting to stuff one into the trash can.

This will simply be illegal in many jurisdictions. You are dealing with hazardous material which must be disposed of properly.

However, I’ll point out that an oil heater that isn’t leaking is perfectly safe.

It may not be working because of a faulty or clapped-out heating element. But there’s no harm in storing it upright in a corner of a room. You can even lay these oil heaters on their side if necessary.

So, you don’t have to make an immediate journey to a disposal depot if your unit stops producing heat.

Personally, I wait until I have several electrical and metal items that require specialist recycling.

Using A Hazardous Waste Disposal Site

Larger towns and cities usually have several hazardous disposal sites that are open every day.

But don’t jump into your car without calling first to check they’ll take your oil heater. There will be a catch with some places.

Here’s an example in Minnesota:

Oil-filled space heaters should be drained first… Bring drained space heaters to one of the disposal companies listed below.

Ramsey County

Wait, how are you supposed to drain the oil? We’ll get to that in a later section.

But if you’re lucky, the disposal site will be well used to dealing with oil filled heaters. They’ll happily take them off your hands, as the metal is useful.

Although some places may charge a few bucks as a disposal fee.

Rural Areas And Smaller Towns

Waste disposal depots in more rural areas may not accept your heater on most days of the week.

But they may have dedicated days, or even one week in the year when they accept hazardous material.

Sustainability And Non-Profit Recycling Organizations

It’s worth running an internet search for organizations in your region that support sustainable lifestyles.

Some may have specialist recycling programs that deal with oil filled heaters. Make sure they are specifically listed, as these places differ in what they can take.

Scrap Merchants

The metal in your unit has value, and you may find a local scrap merchant that will take it.

I’ll caution you to check that the oil will be dealt with properly (and not tipped down a drain). You don’t want to contribute to pollution.

A reputable scrap merchant that accepts your unit should have some form of certificate for dealing with hazardous waste.

Retail Shops

The shop where you purchased the unit may accept it for disposal, even when it’s out of warranty. This differs from country to country, and region to region.

But if your unit is within the warranty period, then it may be most convenient to bring it back to the shop.

A Cautionary Tale

Here’s a common story.

A conscientious and careful guy calls his local recycling depot who throw up their hands in horror at the thought of that oil.

But they helpfully give our guy the address of a hazardous waste disposal depot across time.

Our hero drives miles to the other depot who cheerfully tell him they’ll be glad to take the unit. But only after he’s removed all the oil out of it.

The depot guy even takes a look at the unit, but both end up scratching their heads. There’s no obvious way to drain the oil. The unit appears to be completely sealed.

And appearances aren’t deceiving. These units are sealed.

This is why I advised in an earlier section to check that a hazardous waste depot will take an oil filled heater.

Is It Possible To Drain The Oil From These Units?

The manufacturers don’t expect or want you to drain the oil. This quote is from the manual of one common brand:

The appliance is not designed to be dismantled without special tools. Please do not attempt to separate the unit.

Product manual

I advise you to find a disposal depot that will take the unit as-is. It may be a further drive away or in the next town. And that far-away depot may only take them one week in the year.

So, you may want a straight answer to the question: is it possible to drain the oil?

And yes, it’s possible. It’s not advisable, but it’s possible.

If you search the DIY forums, you’ll find a few accounts of people who have done so. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

One guy keeps it short: I just drill a hole and I put old oil in my used motor oil.

While there are more lengthy instructions in the thread at this link.

You may also find a few videos with people dismantling the units. Here’s one, and here’s another.

Personally, I wouldn’t choose to go to such measures. The thought of the oil seeping into my carpet is just one reason why it seems like a bad idea!

More About Your Oil Heater

A digital illustration of an oil filled heater

You may be wondering about the shelf-life of these appliances. Check out article on how long to expect an oil-filled heater to last.

Are you thinking of getting rid of the heater because there’s an odor or it seems to be drying out the room? Check out these articles first.

Dean Casey
About Dean Casey

Hi, I'm Dean Casey, the founder and chief editor of

With over 15 years of experience in the HVAC industry, my passion is helping homeowners achieve optimal comfort and energy efficiency in their living spaces. As a certified HVAC technician and consultant, I have developed a deep understanding of home heating systems, insulation, and energy-saving practices.

I started this blog to provide well-researched, practical advice to homeowners looking to improve their home's heating performance and reduce energy bills. Whether it's comprehensive guides, hands-on product reviews, or expert tips, my goal is to share valuable information with you, my readers.

I enjoy spending time with my family and exploring the great outdoors when I'm not busy writing and researching. I'm also an avid DIYer, always eager to tackle new home improvement projects and share my experiences with you.

If you have any questions or comments about home heating, please don't hesitate to reach out through the contact page on the website. I'm always happy to help!

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