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Get Rid of Heating Oil Spill Smell from House Basement

  • Published: 2014-04-04 (Rev. 2016-11-20) - Contact: Ian Langtree at Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Tips on cleaning up and getting rid of odor from heating oil spills and leaks in your home basement.

About Heating Oil

A low viscosity, liquid petroleum product used as a fuel for furnaces or boilers in buildings. Home heating oil is often abbreviated as HHO.

Main Document

"A few bowls of vinegar left out and/or several opened bags of charcoal will usually absorb most smells."

A heating oil spill should be treated as quickly as possible, for both personal safety and to minimize any lasting effects to your home. Even after clean up, the smell of oil may linger indefinitely.

If you use oil to heat your home, it is not uncommon to sometimes smell heating oil, a pop bottle cap full of heating oil can permeate an entire room and even a single drop is noticeable. If your tank is in the basement of your home, go down and inspect it for leaks immediately. If your tank is inground and you smell oil, it is most likely coming from your furnace, filter, or pipes, and it is a good idea to schedule an appointment ASAP to have your heating system inspected and, if needed, repaired.

There are two types of home fuel oil spills, small and large;

Fuel oil odor can also come from incomplete combustion in the furnace, a bad nozzle, or a bad vent pipe. Have your furnace examined by a professional if you can not find any visible oil leaks.

CAUTION: Fuel oil contains many substances which vary in their toxicity. Short term exposure may cause headaches, nausea and dizziness, prolonged exposure can cause serious health problems. Getting fuel oil on the skin can cause skin irritation. Be aware that infants, small children, certain adults and pets can not tell you that they are suffering from headaches or breathing problems.

Heating Oil Spill Tips:

Open basement windows to ventilate the area and turn off all flame and spark sources. Don't smoke or light matches in the area. Extinguish pilot lights on furnaces, water heaters, and gas dryers. Turn off gas appliances that have electronic ignitions. Do not attempt to clean up spilled oil with a shop vac or use any electric appliances or power tools.

For smaller spills:

For large oils spills (over a gallon):

For lingering odor after cleanup:

If fuel oil spills are promptly and completely cleaned, residual odors should go away after several days. Call a professional cleaning service if you need help with the clean up, or if the fuel oil odors remain.

Related Information:

  1. How to Neutralize Chlorine Smell from Pools and Clothing - Ian Langtree - (Apr 01, 2014)
  2. Get Rid of Stale Cigarette Smoke Smell from House - Ian Langtree - (Mar 28, 2014)
  3. Get Rid of Refrigerator and Freezer Odors - Ian Langtree - (Feb 25, 2014)


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