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What are the Dangers of Homemade Waste Oil Heaters?

Are DIY Waste Oil Heaters Safe?

✅ Building a DIY waste oil heater may sound easy; in reality, waste oil heaters are technically complex.
✅ DIY waste oil heaters and professionally built waste oil heaters differ greatly when it comes to efficiency, how clean they burn fuel, how safe they are, and the level of maintenance required.
✅ Before you begin building your own waste oil heater there are essential things you should know.
✅ DIY waste oil heaters aren’t covered by most insurance companies, require closer monitoring and more frequent maintenance, and are more expensive in the long run.
✅ If you are considering a waste oil heater for your business, reach out to an expert like EnergyLogic. We have over 20 years of experience designing and building the most technologically advanced and efficient waste oil heaters.

Table of Contents

Scroll through the internet and you will find plenty of YouTube videos and instructional plans detailing how to build a waste oil heater. Many have enticing claims: ‘Made from Junk!’; ‘Easy to Build 5 Dollar Waste Oil Burner’; ‘No Welding Required’; ‘Assemble in 10 to 15 Hours.‘ If you are a small business needing a waste oil heater, it can be tempting to do it yourself.  

DIY vs. Professional Heaters

However, the adage ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ comes to mind. These DIY waste oil heaters may work in theory. However, there are major differences between a DIY and a professional waste oil heater when it comes to efficiency, how cleanly and completely they burn fuel, how safe they are, and the level of maintenance required. Unfortunately, few of the homemade waste oil heater plans available on the internet discuss these differences. Nor do they tell you about the dangers of a DIY system.   

Here are a few things you should know about homemade waste oil heaters before you break out your tools and scrounge around your junk pile to build your own waste-oil heater. 

Waste Oil Heaters Are Technically Complex

A 15-minute YouTube video is designed to make building your homemade waste oil heater look effortless. In reality, constructing a waste oil heater involves expertise in combustion heating and significant technical knowledge. An improper build of the ignition process, internal air compressor, fuel tank, or ventilation system is extremely dangerous. One tiny mistake in the DIY construction process or forgetting to install a crucial component can lead to overheating, fires, and explosions. Industry-made waste oil heaters cost more for a reason. They are technically complex machines that have been expertly designed and rigorously tested for safety. 

Homemade Waste Oil Heaters Lack Basic Safety Features 

The simplicity of cheap, homemade waste oil heaters means most lack basic safety features. In contrast, professionally built waste oil heaters have numerous safety controls. For example, they will have self-igniting or electric, spark-ignited burners to eliminate hazards associated with hand-lit units often found in homemade waste oil heaters.  Additionally, many professionally built waste oil heaters will have combustion sensors, flame failure devices, thermostatic controls, high-temperature limit switches, and remote emergency shutoff switches to promote safe running of the equipment. 

Professional Grade Requirements

Insurance Companies May Not Approve DIY Waste Oil Heaters

As mentioned above, homemade waste oil heaters are very hazardous if not constructed correctly and if they lack the necessary safety features. Therefore, unsurprisingly many insurance companies will not cover a business fire due to a homemade waste oil heater. There are strict safety measures and building codes around heating equipment. As such, many insurance companies will only pay out in the event of a fire if the waste oil heater in your business has been tested for safety by an independent laboratory such as the Underwriters’ Laboratories. Industrially designed and professionally made waste oil heaters come with UL certification and a safety rating. In the United States, federal, state, and local building codes and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) require the UL Certification Mark.   

Homemade Waste Oil Heaters Are High Maintenance

Homemade waste oil heaters often lack an external air compressor. Professionally built waste oil heaters with external air compressors burn hotter and cleaner and therefore produce less ash. Less ash means less cleaning and a longer time between maintenance intervals. In contrast, homemade waste oil heaters must be properly cleaned twice a week. Additionally, some professionally designed waste oil heaters have been designed to make cleaning even easier. For example, EnergyLogic furnaces have a single large tube where the ash collects, providing easy access for cleaning. Homemade waste oil heaters have a whole bunch of little tubes that allow ash and grime to get trapped in dozens of narrow crevices that are difficult to access and very time-consuming to clean! Not to mention they pose a fire hazard. 

Homemade Waste Oil Heaters Require Closer Monitoring

Different types of waste oils vary by viscosity. When burning different fuel types, adjustments need to be made to the air pressure and combustion process to compensate for the inevitable changes in fuel viscosity. Homemade waste oil heaters will need to have these adjustments made manually, involving daily monitoring. Professional waste oil heaters have advanced technology to handle a wide variety of fuels in the same furnace, with no adjustments necessary when switching or blending fuels. For example, EnergyLogic waste oil heaters have a metering pump that delivers the fuel at a precise volume regardless of weight, temperature, or viscosity. This technological advantage ensures just the right amount of fuel enters the combustion process at all times.  

More Advanced Technology

DIY Waste Oil Heaters Can Be Environmentally Hazardous

Most do-it-yourself waste oil heaters lack the proper components to eliminate toxins as they burn. The result is that the fumes can cause poor air quality, which can be unsafe for employees who breathe it, not to mention releasing catastrophic carbon emissions. However, waste oil combustion furnaces engineered by professionals, like EnergyLogic, carefully control the combustion process to offer maximum environmental protection and energy offset. For example, an EnergyLogic-designed chimney can safely carry away pollutants according to levels required by the government environmental policies and regulations while still converting waste oil into efficient heat.  

Ultimately, Homemade Waste Oil Heater Aren’t Cost-Efficient

It is possible to build a low-cost waste oil heater by yourself. However, many are inefficient at transferring and circulating heat inside a building. In contrast, industrial-grade waste oil heaters have the technological advancements to operate more efficiently. A professionally built waste oil heater will cut your heating costs better than a DIY waste oil heater in the long run. In fact, the savings of a professional waste oil heater are so significant most professional waste oil heaters pay for themselves in less than two years. 

DIY Heaters Lack Proper Components

Seek Expert Advice for Your Next Waste Oil Heater

If you are considering a waste oil heater for your business, reach out to an expert like EnergyLogic. We have over 20 years of experience designing and building the most technologically advanced and efficient waste oil heaters. Contact us today.  


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