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Why Does my Furnace Smell Weird?

by | Nov 23, 2017 | Furnace, Heating

Weird Smell After Turning on FurnaceWhen summer comes to an end and you turn your heating system on for the first time again, you might notice any number of musty and dusty smells coming from the furnace.

While these smells are to be expected and completely normal, they should not be ignored because there are some times when they can indicate something that needs your attention. The even keener nose of a qualified professional might be an even better bet.

So what do these smells mean? Here are some possible reasons and explanations for where these aromas are coming from.

The furnace is just waking up

Most commonly, you will experience a dusty burning smell. Typically, this smell is a result of dust that settled in the air ducts of the system throughout the summer. When the heat comes back on, it burns off the dust, giving you the impression of a burning smell. This is completely normal and will dissipate after the furnace has been running for a short while.

The filter needs changing

When the smells persist, though, this could be the result of a dirty filter, clogged with dust and debris that has collected over time. Be sure to check your filters regularly to prevent fire hazards and keep you furnace running as efficiently as possible.

Something is burning

Did you clean up around the furnace before turning it on? Sometimes flammable materials will heat up and even catch fire if they are stored too close to the furnace, so it is important to clear the area around your furnace of anything obstructions before running the heat through it.

There’s a blockage somewhere

If you smell smoke, it could mean the chimney is blocked and whatever is in the way is starting to burn. It is important to check the chimney at the end of the summer to make sure seasonal debris, soot build-ups, and bird’s nests aren’t creating possible fire hazards when you turn the furnace on in the fall.

A foreign object is in the line

Smells that remind you of burning rubber or burning plastic could go either way. It could simply be that something made its way into the ductwork of the heating system. Check the registers by removing the grates and scan for small objects or anything else that looks like it doesn’t belong there.

If your first inspection comes back with no results and this kind of burning smell won’t go away, it might be time to consult a professional as it could mean an internal problem. Sometimes the furnace’s mechanism can overheated or crack, or an electrical component can be compromised, in which case you won’t be able to find the problem without the help of a qualified heating system specialist.

Something else…

If all of the other variables have been addressed and the unidentified smells persist beyond a few days and you still have concerns, it is important to contact your trusted HVAC professional to address the issue and prevent any harm to you, your family, or your furnace.

The good news is that most of these smells are either normal or entirely preventable. If you take the appropriate precautionary measures and schedule your annual furnace maintenance with a qualified professional in the fall, there is no need to worry.

Regular preventative maintenance is key to catching any issues with your heating system that could cause problems in your household. The trusted team at R.F. Schraut Heating and Cooling can provide you with the solutions you need to keep your home comfortable and your family safe all year long. We have over 30 years of providing excellent service to the community so that you can sleep safe and warm through the chilly winter nights.


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