Have you heard the expression, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire”? When you smell something burning in your home, your mind may immediately leap to the conclusion that the place is on fire. However, if your furnace smells after you have turned it on after a long period of non-use, you may experience an odor which doesn’t necessarily mean that repair is needed. The purpose of this article is to help you understand what causes your furnace to smell and to offer some remedies for that problem.
During the first sign of winter is when most people turn on their furnaces for the first time. When this occurs, it is not unusual for the furnace to emit an odor. As a result, over the course of a season, dust and dirt can build up in your heater and begin to affect its performance. If your furnace is burning off this built-up dust or dirt, it’s an indication that it needs to be cleaned.
Should a Burning Smell Concern You?
When a heater has not been used for an extensive period of time, it is not uncommon for it to emit a faint burnt odor as you first turn it on. This smell is generally nothing to be concerned about. It may just indicate that your furnace needs to be cleaned. This suggests that you should replace the furnace filter. A yearly inspection of the furnace and regular maintenance can help prevent a similar odor from occurring in the future.
If this is the cause of the odor, it should disappear quickly. However, if the smell persists, there could be a more serious problem. It is possible that the odor is being caused by a completely clogged filter. If changing the filter does not alleviate the smell, you will have to call in a professional to remove the clog.
Reasons Your Furnace May Smell
Are you still wondering why your furnace smells funny? Aside from an initial “shaking off the dust” and dirty filter, there are many reasons that your heating system may smell bad. You can detect most furnace problems just by the way your furnace smells.
Problems associated with a bad smell coming from your furnace include:
Burnt Plastic Smell
When a new furnace or HVAC system is installed, it sometimes gives off a burnt-plastic smell. This odor, however, dissipates after a few hours. However, if the smell continues, you will need to call for furnace repair. If you use your furnace regularly, it should never emit this type of odor. But, if you are smelling plastic burning, that is an indication that there is friction between elements in the system or it is sign of overheating. Either way, you should contact a professional to repair it.
Smells Like Rotten Eggs
The smell of rotten eggs that you might detect in your furnace when it is trying to ignite is actually due to the addition of the chemical mercaptan, which makes natural gas and propane easy to detect. The rotten egg odor associated with natural gas is a strong smell designed to warn you of an impending danger. It is a protective measure to keep you and your family safe. So, if you smell rotten eggs, call your gas company immediately.
Furnace Smells Like Exhaust
If a home has poor ventilation, there is likely to be an odor similar to that of car exhaust. This may indicate a furnace that is not vented properly. If the vent can be located, it should be inspected for any objects blocking its path. More importantly, if you find an obstruction in your furnace, have it looked at by a professional immediately. If the obstruction is not removed and the furnace does not work properly, carbon monoxide may build up in your home. Carbon monoxide inhalation is lethal.
How Do I Get Rid of the Smell
When a furnace smells, the first step is to change the filters. If the smell persists or you smell an odor of burnt plastic, rotten eggs or exhaust, schedule an inspection immediately. We recommend that you follow these safety guidelines and not risk your health or your families.
Call North Star Heating & Air Conditioning in West Jordan for Furnace Repair
Strange smells can signal bigger problems, which is why we strongly recommend a thorough furnace inspection from a professional every year. Especially if you have a strange smell coming from your heater or need other furnace repairs, contact North Star Heating & Air Conditioning at (801) 285-9022 now!