You turn on your heat and notice a strange odor. Is it normal or a cause for concern? While some smells can be fixed easily, others require immediate action so they don’t cause serious harm to you or your family. Read on to discover some of the most common furnace smells and what you should do if you notice one.
Common Furnace Smells
If you haven’t used your heat in a long time, such as all spring and summer, you may notice a dusty smell when you turn it on for the first time. This common odor is typically minor and usually goes away after a couple hours of use. Caused by the buildup of dust and debris when the system is off, make sure you change the filter if the smell doesn’t seem to be getting any better.
This odor could signify the buildup of mold or other toxins in your furnace or ductwork. To ensure these toxins don’t make their way into your home, schedule a maintenance and cleaning appointment if the smell doesn’t go away.
If you have an oil furnace and your filter is clogged, it will emit an oily odor. You can simply replace the filter and the smell should go away.
Most often, a smoke smell is caused by a blocked chimney. If the chimney is blocked or clogged, it will send smoke back through the furnace and ductwork. Consider a professional chimney cleaning if the smell doesn’t go away or worsens.
Electrical or metallic smell
If you smell burning rubber, plastic or metal, some components in your furnace are probably getting too hot. You could have faulty wires, a burnt-out motor or old parts that are burning due to wear and tear. Shut off your system and call your HVAC technician immediately.
If you’re smelling a gas or sulfur smell, similar to rotten eggs, you most likely have a gas leak and are at risk of a major breakdown, explosion or fire. If your furnace is emitting this odor, turn off the system, open the windows, evacuate your home immediately and call the fire department or gas company.
What should you do when you notice a smell coming from the furnace?
Act fast! If you are concerned there is a problem with your furnace, you should act immediately. Strange smells coming from your furnace should not be taken lightly as they can signify issues that can cause harm to you and your family.