oil smell question

I have a 30 year old Texaco boiler with a summer winter hookup. Whenever the heater comes on, there's an oilsmell strongest near the basement steps, over the oiltank- heater is at other end of basement. It's a fairly small basement though. We were going to replace the heater, but someone suggested that this is a repairable problem. Something about not all the burners firing, or something like that. We have a contract for maintenance/cleanout, but no one has identified the problem. Is there something particular we should look for? We have no gas service in the house, so that's too expensive an option to convert. TIA for any suggestions.
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Lets see... You have an oilsmell near the oiltank when the oilheater comes on. Maybe some of the oilsmell from the oilleak, on the oiltank or oilline is being drawn into the area when the oilheater FIRES up, so you can detect the oilsmell? I'd say you should have someone figure out the source of the oilsmell before you have an oilFIRE outside of the oilheater. That, and replace the thermostat.
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