November 28, 2020

If your heater produces a burning smell, it does not always mean something is wrong with your system. Different furnace smells can indicate various issues. A clogged filter or an overheated blower motor can be the source of these smells. When the cold weather starts to arrive, your furnace will be used for the first time in months. It is common to experience these strange smells when you flip the switch. However, some smells could indicate your furnace needs maintenance or repair. A burning smell from your furnace doesn’t mean you need to grab a fire extinguisher. By knowing the difference between these smells, you can save time and money.

Heater Safety Tips

If you want to prevent burning smell issues, there are a few things that you can do around your home. All that dust and dirt on a clogged air filter can create some foul odors. When the warm air passes through the dust, it will produce a faint burning smell. It is important to change your filters on a regular basis. New filters can improve the air quality in your home and prevent any annoying odors. This step can also help to prolong the life of your heating system.

You might want to check your home for items around the vents. When the registers start to heat up, those objects can get hot and produce a strong smell. If your heater hasn’t been used in a couple of months, items may have been placed near the vents or registers. Before you flip the heater’s switch, take a few minutes to walk by the vents. You want to make sure objects are far away from your heating unit and vents. Plastic, fabrics, and other materials can be flammable. You don’t want to turn on the heater and cause a fire in your home. With these safety precautions, you can stop some of those heating system odors.

Different Types of Smells

For many homes, an initial burning smell is due to the inactivity of the heating system. This smell is quite typical, and it will dissipate quickly. The most common odor is a burning dust smell. When the unit is off, the components and parts will collect some dust. This dust can settle on the heat exchanger, burner, and other components. Once you turn on the heater, the dust will burn off and pass through the air vents. In turn, a burning smell will drift throughout your home. The burning smell should dissipate after a few hours, and there is no cause for concern. However, if the initial smell of burning dust has not passed, you might want to change your air filters.

Other smells can originate from your furnace. Some units might be failing and produce a burning smell. If your heating system is not operating correctly, you could notice the scent of burning electrical wires. This smell is often the sign of an overheated blower motor or another component. A properly working furnace will automatically shut itself off as a safety measure. However, there are times when these safety measures can fail. In that case, the motor can become dangerously hot. Frayed or damaged electrical wiring can create foul odors throughout your home. A cracked heat exchanger can also produce an electrical burning smell. In any case, these issues are hazardous. You want to turn off your heating system and contact a certified HVAC technician. A trained technician can diagnose your problem and find a solution to stop these harmful burning smells.

If you have an oil furnace, burning oil smells are common. In this situation, the oil filter needs to be changed in your unit. You should shut down the system and replace the old filter. However, a new filter might not fix the problem. With this issue, it is time to call a professional technician to check out your furnace.

Burning rubber or plastic smells are another concern. If you are experiencing these smells in your home, it could be due to failing components. This is often one of the most dangerous smells since plastic fumes are toxic. In some cases, a foreign object has found its way into your heating system. You will want to turn off the furnace immediately. It is not safe to leave the furnace operating in your home. You should try to see if anything is in your heating system. For most homes, there is usually something stuck in the vents or ductwork. If you cannot locate the burning smell source, you need a qualified technician’s assistance. The problem with your heater might be more complicated than a foreign object in your ductwork. You may have an electric failure in the heating system.

A musty smell will usually dissipate with time. This odor is a sign of mildew or mold in your ductwork or heating system. In most cases, you can change a dirty air filter to resolve any problems with musty smells. After some time, the air quality should improve. However, a strong smell might indicate your ducts need deep cleaning and restoration. Musty smells often require the air to be sanitized. For severe problems with mold, you might need specialized equipment to remove bacterial growth from the ducts. Mold could be growing in other parts of your home. These problems will need help from a professional company. Once mold has flourished throughout your home, it can be difficult to remove without professional equipment.

Some heaters can produce a gunpowder smell. This distinctive odor can be the result of a fried fan motor or circuit board. You will want to turn off your heater to stop any further damage to your system. Once again, you need to contact a professional to examine your system as soon as possible.

Burning Smells Can Be a Cause for Concern

As you can tell, you should always monitor the smells coming from your heating system. The smell of burning dust is usually not a big issue. However, if the smell does not dissipate, you might have a larger problem on your hands. There are other smells you will want to have checked out by a professional technician. Any electrical, oil, or plastic odors require you to shut down your entire system. These smells are signs of a severe problem. In this case, you want to contact someone to help resolve these issues with your heating system.

Contact Us for Your Heating Needs

If you are concerned about these burning smells from your heater, it may be time to call a professional team. At Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating, we have been serving the San Antonio area since 1990. You can count on us for your heating and cooling needs. Our NATE-certified technicians will find a solution to your problems. The Lennox company has even recognized us for our outstanding work. We are the number one Lennox training company for five years in a row, and we have won the Dave Lennox Award. When you need service for a heating or cooling system in San Antonio, make sure to contact Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating.

company icon