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5 Reasons Your Furnace Smells Like It's Burning and What You Should Do About It

Posted: 2021-01-28

When your furnace releases a burning smell at the beginning of the heating season, there’s likely nothing too serious going on. But if it has a burning smell in the middle of the heating season, it could mean there are issues you need to look into — immediately.

Four Seasons Air Specialists is your trusted heating company in Shoreview MN. We can help you deal with a furnace that lets out a burning odor, making sure it works as safely and efficiently as possible.

Here are some of the potential reasons your heating system has a strange smell.

Burning Dust

If you turn your furnace for the first time after several months of being idle, there’s a good chance it will release a burning smell. Heating systems usually accumulate a significant amount of dust while they are not being used for months. This dust settles on every part of the unit, including the filter, heat exchanger, and burners. So, if you smell dust burning at the start of the heating season, it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm because this odor will disappear in a few hours. However, if the problem persists, you might want to check the filter.

Electrical Burning

When your furnace releases electrical smells, you should pay attention because such smells don’t occur very often. Sometimes, the smell comes from burning electrical wires, telling you that certain internal parts are getting too hot. If electrical odors come from your heating system and the unit shuts itself off, it’s likely a safety feature that disables the furnace from running continuously. When this happens, you will need to call a qualified technician to look into the problem.

Burning Plastic

There are times when your furnace will release the smell of burning plastic, which means a foreign object, such as a plastic cap or a plastic toy has entered your unit. Since the furnace constantly generates heat, the trapped plastic material will burn from the heat of the furnace, emitting fumes throughout your home. This smell is dangerous to your health and should be dealt with immediately. The first time you notice the smell of burning plastic coming from your furnace, do not hesitate to turn your unit off and call your preferred HVAC company.

Musty Smell

If your furnace smells like a damp basement or like dust, it’s possible the odor comes from dirt collecting in the air ducts. These particles are blown throughout your home when the furnace runs. The same smell could also mean that mold is trapped on the furnace or on the humidifier filter. Changing or cleaning the furnace filters should eliminate the foul odor. However, if you wish to clean the humidifier filter, use a solution of vinegar and water in equal parts. Soak the filter in the solution and gently clean with a damp cloth.

Rotten Egg Smell

While the smell of a rotten egg is unbearable itself, it does help you identify the cause of the problem. If the smell comes from the furnace, it means you can rule out the smell coming from other home appliances. For the most part, such a smell coming from your furnace tells you there is a gas leak in your system. Most gas companies scent their gas with a distinct smell to let technicians and residents know that there is a possible gas leak in the home.

A rotten egg smell may be easy to identify, but it should not be taken lightly because it could cause an explosion or fire since gas is leaking throughout your home. If you smell rotten eggs coming from your furnace, be sure to turn it off as soon as possible and air out your home by opening your doors and windows.

Do not forget to call your gas company for service and repair. They may need to reactivate your gas before HVAC technicians can fix your furnace since it’s too hazardous to work in a home with a gas leak.

Weird Smell from Your Furnace? Call Four Seasons Air Specialists

If you notice unusual smells from your heating system, give us a call.

Our professional technicians are duly trained to identify different smells coming from heating systems and apply appropriate solutions. We are your dependable Circle Pines furnace repair company.