Getting rid of smell from oil furnace

Old 08-08-16, 09:06 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 1
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Question Getting rid of smell from oil furnace

I purchased a house built in 1935 recently that has an oil furnace with two oil tanks in the basement. I noticed when I looked at the house that there was a pretty strong oil/chemical smell in the basement that permeates the house. I asked my inspector, and it said it was probably because the spilled some oil last time they filled the tanks. However, the smell is not going away even though we have attempted to air it out, removed carpeting, painted most of the house, etc. Even if I keep the basement door shut, the smell still gets upstairs, particularly in the kitchen where the door is. I have not run the furnace since I bought it since it is summertime, so I'm not sure what I can do about that smel, or if the smell is an issue that I need to call in a pro to look at. Is it normal for oil tanks in a home to put off such a strong odor? Please help! Thanks.
Old 08-08-16, 09:31 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jersey
Posts: 65,765
Received 4,119 Upvotes on 3,699 Posts
Welcome to the forums.

Do you see any wet areas of fuel oil or dark spots near the tanks or boiler ?
Check the areas where the small copper fuel line connects to the tanks and the burner.
It only takes a few drops to stink the place up.

Any questionable damp/dark/stained areas of the floor can be treated with kitty litter. Liberally pour it on the floor and don't be afraid to walk on it to grind it into the floor. Afterwards sweep up the kitty litter.

Activated charcoal can be put out to absorb the smell. It's available in pet supply stores.
Opening a basement window helps too.

As a fuel oil user....
Always keep a bag or container of kitty litter handy for spill cleanup.
Be vigilant checking the bottom of the tanks as well as the floor under the tanks for any drips.
Old 08-08-16, 01:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 4,463
Received 129 Upvotes on 114 Posts
Old 09-02-16, 08:36 AM
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: bedford
Posts: 5
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
It sounds like there was more than a small amount of oil that was spilled. Airing out the house and cleaning/painting should have removed the smell if it was just a small amount that dripped from the top of the tank. I've seen homeowners try to hide oil spills by painting over a stained basement floor prior to a home sale. It may hide the stain but it won't prevent vapors from rising up into the house. Depending on the state you live in you can still get the previous owner to clean up the problem. An environmental remediation company can take a soil samples from underneath the basement floor to screen it for oil. It's just a 1' hole that's drilled into the concrete and it will tell you right away if there had been a spill or leak.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: