How to Empty an Oil Space Heater: A Comprehensive Guide

Emptying an oil space heater is a crucial task that ensures the safe and efficient operation of your heating appliance. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the step-by-step process of draining the oil from your oil space heater, providing technical specifications, DIY tips, and relevant references to help you complete the task with confidence.

Unplugging the Heater

Before beginning the oil-draining process, it is essential to unplug the heater from the power source. This step is crucial to prevent any electrical hazards and ensure your safety throughout the procedure. Carefully locate the power cord and disconnect it from the wall outlet or power source.

Accessing the Heating Element

how to empty an oil space heater

The next step is to locate the heating element of the oil space heater. This is typically found at the back or bottom of the appliance, behind the electrical panel. Carefully remove the panel by unscrewing or prying it open, depending on the specific model of your heater.

Unscrewing the Heating Element

Once you have access to the heating element, use the appropriate tools, such as a screwdriver, to unscrew the element. This will create an opening through which the oil can drain. Be prepared to catch the oil in a suitable container, as it may start to flow out as soon as the element is loosened.

Collecting the Oil

Place a clean, leak-proof container underneath the heating element opening to collect the draining oil. Be mindful of any spills, as the oil can be slippery and potentially harmful to the environment. Ensure that the container is large enough to accommodate the full volume of oil within the heater.

Disposing of the Oil Properly

After collecting the oil, it is crucial to dispose of it responsibly. Many local councils and waste management facilities have dedicated oil recycling sites or programs. Consult your local regulations to determine the appropriate method for disposing of the used oil from your oil space heater.

Scrapping the Metal Parts

Once the oil has been drained, you can safely remove the metal parts of the heater, such as the heating element and any other metal components. These can be taken to a metal recycling area at your local council recycling depot, where they can be properly processed and repurposed.

Technical Specifications

Oil space heaters typically consist of metal columns with cavities, inside which silicone oil (mostly siloxanes like polydimethylsiloxane) flows freely around the heater. The oil is nontoxic and non-biodegradable, but it is absorbed in waste water treatment facilities, and its degradation is catalyzed by various clays.

The heating element in an oil space heater is usually a coil that heats up and transfers the heat to the oil inside, which then circulates around the heater to warm the surrounding area. The specific dimensions and capacity of the oil reservoir can vary depending on the make and model of the heater.

DIY Tips

  • Always prioritize safety when working with electrical appliances. Ensure the heater is unplugged before beginning any work.
  • Use the appropriate tools, such as a screwdriver and a suitable container, to safely unscrew the heating element and collect the oil.
  • Be aware of and follow your local regulations regarding the disposal of used oil from your oil space heater.
  • Consider wearing gloves and protective eyewear to minimize the risk of spills or splashes during the oil-draining process.
  • Carefully inspect the heater for any signs of damage or wear before reassembling it or disposing of the components.


  1. YouTube: What’s inside? oil heater
  2. Whirlpool Forums: How to dispose an oil heater/remove oil from one
  3. City of Eugene: How to dispose of or recycle Oil space heater (empty)
  4. Reddit: How to drain the oil from an oil filled space heater?
  5. YouTube: Scrapping an oil column heater

By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can safely and effectively empty the oil from your oil space heater, ensuring its proper maintenance and disposal. Remember to always prioritize safety and adhere to local regulations when handling and disposing of the used oil.