Have you heard the saying, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire?” If you smell something burning in your home, it’s natural for your mind to go straight to the worst case scenario. However, if you have turned your furnace on for the first time in a while, you may smell an odor which doesn’t necessarily mean that heating repair is needed.
Keep reading to find out what causes your furnace to smell and what you can do about it.
When the first real cold snap of winter hits, most people turn on their heater. It’s not at all unusual for the furnace to smell funny. The reason for this is that dust and dirt particles have settled during a season without use and the heater is burning them off. It’s nothing to worry about when this occurs, but it is a sign that your furnace needs to be cleaned.
Should You Be Concerned About Burning Smells?
It is not uncommon for a heater to smell a bit like burning when you first turn it on after having not used it in a while. This smell is generally nothing to be concerned about. It may just mean that your furnace is dirty and needs to be cleaned. It also means that you should change your furnace filter. An annual furnace check up and regular maintenance can prevent this smell from returning.
If this is the reason for the odor, it will disappear quickly. If the odor persists there could be a problem. You might have more than just a dirty filter, it could be completely clogged. If this odor persists beyond changing the filter, you will need to call a professional for assistance.
Why Does Your Furnace Smell Weird?
Are you still wondering why your furnace smells weird? Aside from an annual “shaking off the dust” and dirty filter, there are many reasons that your heating system may smell bad. It’s actually possible to tell what’s going on with a furnace by the way it smells.
Some problems associated with bad smells coming from your furnace include:
Burnt Plastic Smell
The first time you turn on a newly installed HVAC system or furnace, you may notice a burnt plastic smell. If the smell lingers, you will need to call for a furnace repair. You should never have this type of smell coming from your furnace if you use it regularly. If you’re smelling plastic burning, that is an indication that there is friction between elements in the system or it is overheating. Either way, you’ll need to contact a professional to repair it.
Smells Like Rotten Eggs
The smell of a rotten egg that you might detect in your furnace when it is trying to ignite is actually the scent of a chemical called mercaptan. Mercaptan is added by natural gas companies to natural gas and propane to make them easy to detect. This bad smell is a protective measure to keep you safe. If you smell a rotten egg odor, consider it an emergency. Be sure to call your gas company immediately to report your suspicion of a gas leak.
Furnace Smells Like Exhaust
You might notice a smell similar to car exhaust in your home. This is a sign that your furnace is not venting properly. If you can find the vent, check it for anything that might be blocking it. You’ll need to have your furnace looked at by a professional if you do find an obstruction. This could result in carbon monoxide building up in your home, which is deadly.
How Do I Get Rid of the Smell
To get rid of the smell in a furnace, change the filter. If the smell continues or you smell an odor of burnt plastic, rotten eggs or exhaust, schedule an inspection immediately.
Call North Star Heating & Air Conditioning in Sandy 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, call North Star Heating & Air Conditioning at (801) 285-9282 now!