How to Repair an Oil Lamp

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Dating from antiquity, the oil lamp has remained a classic light source throughout the centuries. From bedouin tent to log cabin to your own home decor, the oil lamp warms any room with a nostalgic touch. Whether your oil lamp is a treasured antique, a decorator item or an emergency light, keeping it in good repair is the secret to its longevity and usefulness.

  • Know the parts of the oil lamp. Understanding the simplicity of oil lamp design and the function enhances the appreciation of owning your lamp. Simple parts, easy operation and low maintenance have made the oil lamp timeless. The basic parts of an oil lamp are the fuel bowl, collar, burner, wick and chimney or globe.

  • Find spare oil lamp parts. Shop for the most basic of oil lamp parts at your local Wal-Mart, Target or a hardware store. Here you will find lamp oil, wicks and replacement chimneys. If you need lamp hardware replaced, parts for a specialized lamp (such as an Aladdin) or need to update an antique model, shopping for parts on the Internet is the best option.

  • Clean the chimney. Be sure to clean the chimney on a regular basis. Especially after you use the lamp, clean with warm, soapy water or window cleaner and a soft cloth.

  • Add oil to the lamp. To add more oil, remove the chimney, unscrew the burner, leave the wick undisturbed, add the oil to within 1/2 to 1 inch of the top and re-assemble. Be sure there is always at least a 1 inch coverage of oil over the bottom of the wick in the fuel bowl.

  • Replace the wick. Unscrew the burner unit and screw out the old wick from the backside. Discard the old wick, being careful not to drip the oil onto surfaces. Thread the new wick into the burner unit from the bottom, and screw until 1/2 inch of the wick tip is visible.

  • Trim the wick. You can leave the end of the wick straight across for a wide flame, or trim it into a rounded semi-circle, a pointed triangle, or a double pointed tip (like the top of the letter "M"). Each style will produce its own flame shape. Once trimmed, insert the end of the wick in the oil and screw the burner unit back onto the lamp. Allow the new wick to soak in the oil for 15 to 30 minutes before using the lamp.

  • Explore the Internet for replacements if other parts of the oil lamp are needed. Parts can break or wear out with use. Many websites offer a wide variety of chimneys, bowls and globes in an assortment of glass types, as well as bronze and other metals. Several styles of burners, collars, screws and other specific parts are also available. Find a match for your need by comparing measurements, styles and brands.

Tips & Warnings

  • To light an oil lamp, remove the chimney, screw the wick up to a height of 1/2 inch, light the tip of the wick with a match, screw the wick down to the desired flame height and replace the chimney.
  • If the flame produces smoke and soot, screw the wick down.
  • To extinguish the flame, cup your hand behind the top of the chimney and blow across it.
  • Always carry the lamp from underneath to prevent breakage.
  • Allow the chimney to cool before cleaning it.

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