How to repair an oil lamp
Here at Zazzy Home, we love an oil lamp. Not only do they provide great levels of light and warmth to a room, but they also look fab when in use. So you can keep your floor and desk lamps, we will take an oil lamp any day.
However, as great oil lamps are, unfortunately, they occasionally need repair. Most of the jobs are minor and can be done in a few minutes with items you have at home or cheaply get hold of.
We will talk you through some of the most common issues with oil lamps and how to repair them.
How do I fix my lamp’s wick?
If you find the wick on your oil lamp is no longer performing as well as it should be, then there are a few possible causes, from worn-out wick to dirty wick.
The first step would be to remove the old, sooty wick. This can be easily done by removing the metal cap on top of it and then pulling out the wick. If there is residue on the new wick, you should clean it with a cloth soaked in lamp oil. Once this is done, reinsert the new (cleaned) wick back into its holder, put the metal cap back on top of it, and light your lamp!
What if my lamp’s wick is broken?
First, you should remove the metal cap that sits on top of the old, sooty wick. Next, you will need to ensure that your new wick is wide enough for your particular oil lamp. If it isn’t, cut some yarn until it fits snugly into place. You can then insert this into the wax via two different methods:
1) Go under where the old wick was and pull up some wax from behind it through which you can thread your new piece of wicking material by pulling it upwards.
2) Hold your new replacement piece of wicking material in place with one hand, heat it over a candle with another, and directly pour a small amount of hot oil over the wick. Once you have done this, let your lamp cool down and replace the metal cap on top of it. If you have done this correctly, then your lamp should be good to go!
What if my wick snuffs out all the time?
This is a very common problem, and there are a few possible explanations for it:
1) The oil that you are using may not be suitable for an oil lamp. Only use 100% pure kerosene or lard oil in your lamps. Never use whale oil, vegetable oil, old engine oil, etc., as these will not burn properly and can damage both the inside of your lamp and the metal components on the outside of it.
2) Too much air is flowing through your lamp. You can try hanging a piece of glass cloth/cloth in front of the opening of your lamp; this will silence some of the sounds and stop some of the cold air that is getting through. If this doesn’t work, you can try blocking off more drafts to reduce the amount of air flowing through your lamp.
3) Your new wick might be too small for your oil lamp. Try threading a new piece through and see if that corrects it.
4) You may need to adjust the wick height. This is typically achieved by turning screws at either end on top of your oil lamp (after removing its metal cap).
5) Your wick may not be properly seated in place. Make sure that it is sitting securely inside before lighting your lamp up.
6) Your wick might be too wet. This can be fixed by simply adjusting the screws at either end to raise it up or down until it is just right. You may also need to adjust your wick height after doing this.
7) Some lamps require that you trim the cotton part of the wick before using them for the first time; make sure that you read your instruction manual to see what applies to your specific lamp’s case.
8) If you are using a glass cover for your lamp, make sure that it slips on securely and does not wobble around or rattle when in use; this will cause your wick to snuff out each time.
9) If none of these solutions works, then you may want to check the inner wick tube. This is usually done by dismantling your oil lamp. Make sure that it isn’t clogged up with residue, especially around the edges of where it sits within the surrounding glass lamp globe.
10) If all else fails, you may need to adjust your wick height during use. Most oil lamps have two separate screws on either end of them for this purpose; if one doesn’t work, try the other!
What if my lamp doesn’t give off enough light?
This can be a frustrating problem, but several factors could potentially contribute to it
1) If your lamp is positioned too close to a wall or another object, then it will prevent the whole area from being covered in its light. Try moving the base of your lamp further away from any nearby surfaces to remedy this issue.
2) Your wick might not have been set to the right height before lighting your oil lamp. Readjust it so that more of its length sticks out above the metal cap on top of it and see if that does anything.
3) You may need to replace your old wick with a new one. Threading a new piece through may resolve this
4) You may have got your wick wet before lighting it up, so the oil on the surface of it is being too absorbed. If this is the case, try changing your wick to a new one
5) The lamp might not be burning brightly enough because there isn’t enough air flowing through it. Try hanging some glass cloth/cloth in front of the opening or blocking off drafts to stop air from causing your wick problem
6) Your fuel might need changing for a better quality one that burns brighter. Only use 100% pure kerosene or lard oil in your lamps; never use old engine oil, etc., as these will not burn properly and can damage both the inside of your lamp and also the metal components on the outside of it too
What if my lamp gives off too much light?
This is usually due to one of two factors: either your wick height has been set too high, or you are using a strong fuel source in your lamp that burns very brightly.
Only use 100% pure kerosene or lard oil in lamps; never use old engine oil etc., as these will not burn properly. If you are using 100% pure kerosene, then this can cause problems when used with an open flame. Try changing your wick height by turning the screws at either end on top of your oil lamp (after removing its metal cap).
Check that there aren’t any larger holes in your lamp’s metal cap that may be allowing air to flow into the lamp faster than needed, thus causing it to burn more brightly. You can do this by simply covering up these holes with a small piece of tape if need be.
If you have used 100% pure kerosene or lard oil in your lamp and it keeps going out, then you may need to adjust your wick height (after removing its metal cap) by simply turning the screws at either end on top of your oil lamp until this stops happening.
What if my oil lamp is smoking?
This means that either you haven’t set your wick correctly, or there is too much fuel being used for the amount of light required
1) Check whether you have the right level of wick first by adjusting it using the screws on top of your oil lamp (after removing its metal cap). If this doesn’t stop the problem from occurring, then you will need to replace it with a new one as it has either become completely absorbed, burnt out, or severely frayed on the edges
2) The next likely cause is too much fuel being used for the amount of light required. If this is the case, then you will need to try adjusting your wick height by simply turning the screws at either end on top of your oil lamp (after removing its metal cap) until this stops happening
3) Check your lamp’s metal cap for holes and cover them up with small pieces of tape if need be. Strong winds could also cause the flame to stop doing anything due to lack of oxygen, so block off any drafts that might be causing it
4) Use 100% pure kerosene or lard oil in your lamps; never use old engine oil etc., as these will not burn properly and can damage both the inside of your lamp and the metal components on the outside. Only use fuel sources like this in lamps that are designed for their type (i.e., pure kerosene/lard oil, etc.), not normal household oils like cooking oil or vegetable oils too
5) If you have used 100% pure kerosene or lard oil in your lamp and it keeps going out, then you may need to adjust your wick height (after removing its metal cap) by simply turning the screws at either end on top of your oil lamp until this stops happening
6) The lamp itself might be dirty. Check out our guide here for how to clean an oil lamp properly
7) Also, check whether there is enough pressure being created inside the lamp as well as checking if it has a strong enough flame too
8) If these steps don’t work, we suggest you buy a new one as they do wear out after time and need replacing anyway.
What if my oil lamp flame isn’t stable?
This usually means that either your wick height hasn’t been set correctly, or there is an air draft coming in from nearby, causing it to blow too strongly and thus making it unstable. Readjusting your wick should help with this issue: firstly, remove the metal cap and then turn the screws on top of your oil lamp (at either end) until you have the desired effect.
How do I fix my lamp’s glass?
If your glass container has cracks or chips, you should not attempt to use it because hot oil may cause broken pieces to fall off (which could potentially injure someone), and the glass could shatter while heated, which would cause a mess and potentially burn someone.
For this reason, you should get a new one or try to fix the old one. For example, to fix your lamp’s glass:
1) If your lamp’s glass has developed cracks across it.
Fill in the crack with clear nail polish. Let it dry, and add another layer of clear nail polish on top of that if necessary. This will stop further cracking of your lamp’s glass and keep oil from seeping underneath it where it shouldn’t be (which makes cleaning much more difficult and risky for people who want to use it).
2) If your container has chips missing from its rim.
Fill in the chip with clear nail polish. Let it dry, and add another layer of clear nail polish on top of that if necessary. This will prevent the loss of larger pieces from your lamp’s glass. It will also stop further cracking of your lamp’s glass and keep oil from seeping underneath it where it shouldn’t be (which makes cleaning much more difficult and is risky for people who want to use the lamp).
If neither option works, you can fill in a chip or crack with a piece of masking tape, cut lengthwise into 1cm wide strips. The size varies depending on how big the chip or crack is. If there are multiple cracks or chips, cover each one separately by dipping the tip of the strip into the nail polish and then pressing it against the glass to fill in/cover up the cracks; cut off any excess tape with a pair of scissors (the thinner and straighter you make this tape, the better).
How do I fix my lamp’s metal?
If your lamp’s metal has developed rust:
1) Remove any components made from copper (for example, wire insulation) as this will increase oxidation; instead, use stainless steel or aluminum (brass too, if possible)
2) If your lamp is made completely out of zinc alloy, potato or lemon juice can help remove rust. Apply some on a cloth and wipe down all of your lamp’s surfaces that have rusted over until they look shiny and new
3) You can also use a wire brush
4) If these steps don’t work, you should buy a new one as the oil lamp may be dangerous to people who want to use it if they come in contact with bare metal.
I hope this guide has given you some help with fixing the most common oil lamp problems. Would you please comment below if you have any more suggestions?