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Oil Stench!

K-Man Member Posts: 7
When I walked into my brother in-law's house it stunk of oil. He explained that it only happens when he turns his central air on. It's been happening long enough that he and his family don't even smell the oil anymore and believe me, it's wicked strong! My sister in law is expecting and so I'm especially nervous.

His HVAC system in the basement is about 20 feet from the oil tank. Do you think the system could be drawing its air from the basement instead of the 1st floor? If so, what could be some of the reasons for it? Can anyone recommend a good quality HVAC person in Rhode Island or Sourthern MA?



  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    Oil smell

    There could be a couple problems here.  First, if the tank is leaking, the oil may have soaked into the concrete or dirt, and will need to be removed, and the leak fixed.  Secondly, all oil tanks have a vent, to prevent a vacuum from forming as the oil is burned, and to vent air as the tank is filled. It is possible that the AC is creating a negative pressure in the area, and pulling the odor from the vent.  Check the AC ductwork for leaks.  There are oil odor removers available from any oil dealer or distributor, those may help, but aren't a total solution.  The source must be eliminated.Use the "Find A Contractor" feature on this website to see if there is anyone in your area who can help. 
  • BillW
    BillW Member Posts: 198
    Additional info

    You didn't state what kind of system they have, but this is worth mentioning.  If they have an oil-fired forced air furnace, the oil odors may be coming from a cracked or damaged heat exchanger.  That is very serious, and could lead to possible deadly consequences from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Oil-fired forced air is relatively rare, but still is out there.  If this is the case, shut the furnace down and call a pro before a tragedy occurs.
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