Why Does My Furnace Smell?

Nov 19, 2019

Have you ever noticed the peculiar smells that come from your furnace the first couple of times you turn it on when cold weather arrives? Generally, these odors aren’t anything to worry about, but certain types of smells can be cause for concern. Some can be indicative of dangerous situations. Make sure you know which of your furnace’s smells may be telling you that there is a problem. 


Chemical Odor from Furnace 

If you notice a chemical smell when you turn your furnace on, you will want to contact an HVAC specialist right away. This type of smell usually indicates that your furnace’s heat exchanger is cracked or otherwise damaged. The heat exchanger serves an important purpose. It removes the fumes and excess heat from your system’s combustion chamber and removes them from your home. If the heat exchanger is damaged and not working properly, deadly carbon monoxide gas could make its way into your home, or a fire could result. If you notice this type of odor, get everyone out of the house immediately and contact an HVAC technician as soon as possible. Before cold weather arrives when your furnace will be in use, make sure to install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home and equip them with new batteries. This is one of the most effective ways to protect your home and your family.


Burning, Electrical Odor from Furnace

A burning, electrical smell from your furnace means that something in your system is overheating. Inside your furnace are electrical wires located close together. If these wires become loose and entangled, they can cause a fire. If they become dislodged and come into contact with the hot metal pieces nearby, this can spark a fire. As soon as you notice an odor of this type, shut down your heating system immediately and contact an HVAC specialist. 


Smoke Coming from Furnace Through Heating Vents 

If you see or smell smoke coming from the heating vents in your home when your furnace is turned on, this likely means that there is a fire in or around your heating system, or that there is about to be one. Shut it off and get everyone out of the house immediately. From a safe location, contact your local fire department and an HVAC technician. 

 Less dangerous than a fire but still a serious issue is smoke that results from a blocked chimney. The smoke travels through the chimney and out of your house. If the chimney becomes blocked, the smoke will have nowhere to go and will back up into your home. If this happens, shut down your heating system and contact an HVAC technician right away. If there isn’t a lot of smoke or if the smell isn’t too overwhelming, open doors and windows to try to clear the air. If there is a moderate amount of smoke or if the smell of smoke is strong, turn off your heating system and get out of the house. Go to a safe location and contact an HVAC specialist for help. 

 Other types of smells may come from your furnace when you begin using it at the beginning of the cold-weather season. Some of these are minor and will resolve themselves. These include:


A Dusty, Burning Odor from Your Furnace

As your furnace sits unused throughout the warm summer months, dust and debris can accumulate in heating ducts and vents. When your furnace is turned on, this can lead to a burning odor that may last through the first few times it is in use. Check the air filter and replace it if necessary to eliminate the smell. Remember to check your furnace’s air filter every 30 days and change it at least once during the season while your furnace is in use. Paying attention to small details such as this can prevent more serious issues and possible damage to your HVAC system in the future. 


A Smell of Oil Coming from Your Furnace 

If there is a smell of hot or warm oil when you turn on your furnace, this is a sign that the air filter needs to be replaced right away. Once this is done, if the smell does not go away, contact an HVAC specialist to have your system inspected for further problems. 


Your Furnace is Emitting a Musty, Unpleasant Odor

This can also result from the months when your furnace sits dormant during warm weather. This type of smell indicates that there is mold in your heating system. If this is not dealt with, the mold spores will become airborne and be dispersed throughout your home, creating an unhealthy environment for you and your family.

 The best way to avoid this type of situation is to have your HVAC system professionally cleaned and inspected prior to the arrival of cold weather. A trained HVAC technician will clean your entire system, including air ducts and heating vents, and perform a thorough inspection, which will reveal any other issues that may be present and could rear their ugly heads later on. 


The HVAC specialists at New Albany Heating and Cooling will provide your system with a thorough cleaning and professional inspection to get you ready just in time for winter. Give us a call at 614-636-5002 or visit us on the web at https://newalbanyheatingcooling.comschedule-now/ to schedule your appointment today.