Replacement for space heater with burning smell

After much trial and error, I found a ceramic space heater that seemed to smell least like burning rubber or plastic. I purchased two. They worked for one winter. This winter, I repeatedly smell an ongoing machine oil smell coming after about half hour operation. The colder the intake air, the more it smells like the oil is burning; this is only a rough correlation, it isn't *always* like that. So when the air is cool, it will often smell like hot oil; when it is cooler, it smells like smoldering oil, or even burning oil (at this point, it smells like a diesel engine, or burning rubber). The diesel smell sometimes occurs even when it is warm. More ofthen, though, the smells are less when the room is warm (above 75F), but I don't really need them that much when the room is warm. Unfortunately, I occupy a space which must be continuously ventilated with outside air, so it's always cold (which is more likely to bring on the problem with the oil smell). The only guess I have for the cause of the problem is that cold temperature affects the seals for the motor lubricants. The lubricants leak out and get heated or vaporized by the heater. This is only a guess.
After prolonged continuous exposure to the fumes, it can be quite nasty. The machines still have plenty of warranty time left, but I doubt the store will take them back (and that's reasonable, considering that I used them throughout last winter). They need to be sent to the manufacturer; I imagine that round-trip shipping will cost in the order of half of the original price of the machine. I also need a heater at all times. Even if I sent it, the manufacturer would probably replace them with a newer model, but there is no guarantee that the problem will be eliminated; as I said, these were least smelly of many heaters tried, and it is possible that new ones will smell worse at the outset, (and maybe even more worser after one winter). Hence, sending it back does not seem like a good option.
For the sake of breathability, I am considering getting 2 more heaters -- without any fan motors. This leaves oil-filled and radiant heaters (with the orange glowing tubes). Because of the continous draft from ventilating, I think the radiant heaters would be most suitable. However, the only radiant 1500W heater I've seen has a fan at the top. The ostensible reason is to distribute the heat more; of course, it does this, but I suspect the real reason because the machine simply gets too hot. People buy radiant heaters because they want focused heat, and the improved distribution from the fan would not be appreciated in those situations.
I've looked around quite a bit to find a 1500W radiant heater with no fan (found some 1000W ones). They don't seem to exist. Is this a pointless search? I am searching in Canada.
I'd also appreciate any comments on what might be causing the smell. Is my guess at the temperature dependent lubricant seal plausible or likely? Does my reasoning for not sending it back seem sound? Anything I've overlooked?
What about my rationale for choosing radiant heaters over oil-filled for my situation? Perhaps someone from outside my situation can see some considerations that I currently do not.
Thank you.
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Sorry for the repost. First post doesn't show up.
After much trial and error, I found a ceramic space heater that seemed to smell least like burning rubber or plastic. I purchased two. They worked for one winter. This winter, I repeatedly smell an ongoing machine oil smell coming after about half hour operation. The colder the intake air, the more it smells like the oil is burning; this is only a rough correlation, it isn't *always* like that. So when the air is cool, it will often smell like hot oil; when it is cooler, it smells like smoldering oil, or even burning oil (at this point, it smells like a diesel engine, or burning rubber). The diesel smell sometimes occurs even when it is warm. More ofthen, though, the smells are less when the room is warm (above 75F), but I don't really need them that much when the room is warm. Unfortunately, I occupy a space which must be continuously ventilated with outside air, so it's always cold (which is more likely to bring on the problem with the oil smell). The only guess I have for the cause of the problem is that cold temperature affects the seals for the motor lubricants. The lubricants leak out and get heated or vaporized by the heater. This is only a guess.
After prolonged continuous exposure to the fumes, it can be quite nasty. The machines still have plenty of warranty time left, but I doubt the store will take them back (and that's reasonable, considering that I used them throughout last winter). They need to be sent to the manufacturer; I imagine that round-trip shipping will cost in the order of half of the original price of the machine. I also need a heater at all times. Even if I sent it, the manufacturer would probably replace them with a newer model, but there is no guarantee that the problem will be eliminated; as I said, these were least smelly of many heaters tried, and it is possible that new ones will smell worse at the outset, (and maybe even more worser after one winter). Hence, sending it back does not seem like a good option.
For the sake of breathability, I am considering getting 2 more heaters -- without any fan motors. This leaves oil-filled and radiant heaters (with the orange glowing tubes). Because of the continous draft from ventilating, I think the radiant heaters would be most suitable. However, the only radiant 1500W heater I've seen has a fan at the top. The ostensible reason is to distribute the heat more; of course, it does this, but I suspect the real reason because the machine simply gets too hot. People buy radiant heaters because they want focused heat, and the improved distribution from the fan would not be appreciated in those situations.
I've looked around quite a bit to find a 1500W radiant heater with no fan (found some 1000W ones). They don't seem to exist. Is this a pointless search? I am searching in Canada.
I'd also appreciate any comments on what might be causing the smell. Is my guess at the temperature dependent lubricant seal plausible or likely? Does my reasoning for not sending it back seem sound? Anything I've overlooked?
What about my rationale for choosing radiant heaters over oil-filled for my situation? Perhaps someone from outside my situation can see some considerations that I currently do not.
Thank you.
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Depending on where you purchased it many places will refund you, many will exchange it, you didnt say where you bought it. New heaters and ones sitting for awhile give off smells for 10-30 minutes, yours sounds defective though. Just because it has a fan dont give up, but there are radiant dish type no fan. Costco and Ace have lifetime warranty on most things they sell, Sears may have a satisfaction guarntee you can push .
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m Ransley wrote:

Home Hardware. They did allow me to try other heaters before settling on this one, so they've been very good. It just feels inappropriate to have them go through hoops for a pair of heaters I've had for a year (more actually). I doubt they would actually go for it, understandably. I talked to a staff member there, who commented that the heaters do exude an burning oil smell in the cold. No offer to have it replaced, and I didn't want to pursue it, considering the circumstances. Maybe that was not the best decision. Definitely, there are some things that one might possibly get by playing hardball, but it didn't feel right. Especially for a heater behaviour that comes and goes, and only under circumstances that the majority of the users would probably not be using it. Not only that, but it would be hard to replicate for them. Furthermore, the smell is easily dismissed unless one is exposed to it over a long time.
It should be noted, however, that there are no temperature ranges over which to operate the heater, from reading the manual. In fact, the model sticker at the bottom says that the 1500W consumption was tested at 0 degrees celcius ambient, which suggests (and only suggests) that cooler ambient temperatures should be OK for operating the heater.

Yes. The fact that they are both "defective" makes me a bit cautious about going back to the manufacturer. As mentioned, it can be argued that it is not really a defect, just a characteristic of that machine.

Costco requires a membership, and Ace seems to be a US store (I'm in Canada). I will certainly try Sears & The Bay. Thank you for your comments.
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Frank snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I should add that the places I've checked are Zellers (they don't have them yet), Walmart, Rona, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, and of course Home Hardware.
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On 18 Nov 2005 13:02:59 -0800, Frank snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:
You're sure you don't want to write or email to the manufacturer, and ask whether they know what causes the smell, and if they have a way to address the issue?
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Goedjn wrote:

I phoned their support line. The person said she never heard of such a problem reported with their heater.
Over the last day or so of scratching my head, I've become quite sure that I know the cause. My apartment smells like diesel fumes after the heater has been on for more than an hour. The only source of oil that can burn is the lubricant for the fan motor. From that, I'm quite certain lubricant is escaping and burning.
I followed your suggestion & sent an email to the company. It is certainly be a more concrete report of the problem than a simple phone call. Since both my heaters (same model) have the problem, they might agree to replace them with another model e.g. by creditting the retail store in order to avoid shipping charges (for me, or for them if they were thinking of absorbing that cost). I've found, however, that most other heaters that drive air through a heating element smells of hot plastic or burning rubber, even after running for several days. Almost at the same level of obnoxiousness as the diesel fumes (maybe not quite). This seems to be a ubiquitous trait of modern heaters. Knowing that this is a concern of mine, they might offer a refund (possibly prorated) as an alternative.
The immediate problem right now is to replace the heaters with one that don't aggravate breathing. Even one less night of that would be a very welcome relief. Any gestures of customer goodwill extended by the manufacturers of my currently-owned heaters would be bonus. I took m Ransley's advice and discussed it with the retail outlet. They are willing to take the heaters back. Since their business is one that I would like to see around for a long time, I raised the issue of them having to absorb the cost. The person said that most likely, it would be creditted by the manufacturer.
Now, it is just a matter of finding an 1500W radiant heater that is least likely to have a fume problem. I've pretty well looked at all the local stores that are likely to carry such a thing. The only version is the one with a fan on top, mentioned in my original post. The particular caution I have with that model is that any trace amounts of lubricants escaping from seals on the fan motor would leak downward toward the heating region. This is exacerbated by the fact that the fan (and thus the air flow) is pointing downward. The saving grace may be that the fan is atop the interior of the unit (the electronics), whereas the heating tubes that do the serious dumping of kilowatts are in front of the unit i.e. exterior to the housing. Therefore, any leaked oil will probably not be heated to the same degree as in a ceramic heater. The oil may coat the back side of the reflectors, but that hopefully is not as hot as the heating element of ceramic heaters. The dumped energy is primarily radiant, after all; the reflectors' purpose is not to absorb the radiant heat. Furthermore, the fact that the top fan is so low-powered is one indication that the back side of the reflectors do not get very hot.
The one store that had this model ran out yesterday. I will check another store today.
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