Diesel Heater Service and how to do it

My diesel heater has been installed and working for a few years and I have never had a problem with it starting or running until this week. We had a spell of very cold mornings and on switch on it just created clouds of white smoke before the pump finally starting to click.

I have never had the heater apart and I was somewhat concerned about doing this but the internet solved this. I recommend the following site which although relating to an Espar D2 heater, the details are much the same for the Chinese copies. The embedded video is worth watching.


The essence of the service is that if the heater smokes on start up then the gauze filter around the glow plug is clogged.

The strip down is quite simple with the only issue to watch is that the two large gaskets can easily get damaged. The gauze filter was different to the one as shown in the Espar above, more just a simple gauze tube. Getting the filter out is tricky but a pair of narrow nose pliers and some careful poking did the job. The filter showed heavy carbon deposits which were cleared after soaking in WD40 and using a fine wire brush. The main heat exchanger shell was very clean considering the period of use but I did managed to liberate some carbon dust particles from the burner tube head.

The heater assembly went back together easily and it fired up from switch on this morning despite another chilly start.

New gauze and new gaskets are available on EBay.

UPDATE: After a few warmer days I didn’t fire up the heater. When I finally needed it the smoke was back. I believe that the fuel is bleeding past the fuel pump when it is sat dormant. This builds up in the glow plug chamber and gets burned off when the heater is next used. If the heater is used each day there is less of a problem.

In the course of searching for a new pump I came across a UK source of an ‘electronic’ replacement for the pump. This is a stepper motor and metered pump. Because this pump does not need lubricating via the diesel lubricants you can use kero or similar lower cost fuel. With current UK pricing this is 70p saving per litre so the cost of the electronic pump would be quite quickly recovered. I have ordered one of these and will update here with my experiences.

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