When You Should Be Worried About Smells From Your Furnace

September 13, 2023

Now that the summer is coming to an end, you can expect to turn on your furnace soon. Depending on where you live and how warm you like your house, you might have even turned on your heat once or twice already. If you haven’t used your furnace in a few months, you might notice some strange smells when you first turn it on. This can be alarming if you’re not ready for it, but some of these smells are normal and completely harmless. Still, certain smells coming from your HVAC system could indicate a problem, especially if they don’t go away. Let’s discuss some of the more common heater-related smells that you might notice this fall.

1. A Dusty or Burning Smell

When you haven’t used your heater for several months, dust tends to settle on components such as your heat exchanger and burners. When you turn on your heater, this dust burns away, creating a dusty or burning smell throughout your home. This smell is completely normal, and it should go away in a matter of minutes once all the dust has burned away. If the smell lingers longer than a day or gets worse, turn off your heat and contact an HVAC company to take a look at your heating system since there is likely a problem with it that needs to be addressed.

2. A Musty Smell

If your heater has a musty smell like dirty socks when you first turn it on, you likely have mold, mildew, or bacteria growing on your heating coils or in your ducts. As bad as that sounds, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about if you have a conventional furnace since it will be hot enough to kill mold and bacteria. On the other hand, a heat pump’s coils only reach temperatures between 105 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the perfect temperature for mold and bacteria growth. Fortunately, you can usually solve this problem by cleaning or replacing your HVAC filters. If that doesn’t work, it’s time to contact an HVAC company to clean and inspect your heating system.

3. A Rotten Egg Smell

As their name implies, gas furnaces rely on natural gas to heat your home. The gas is pumped into your furnace through enclosed lines and ignited to create heat. Unfortunately, this also means that these lines or your furnace could leak natural gas, which is a serious problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Natural gas is normally odorless, but a chemical is added to it to give it a sulfurous, rotten egg smell for safety reasons. If you notice this smell when you turn on your furnace, turn off your heat and evacuate your home. Contact an HVAC professional as soon as you’re someplace safe.

4. An Electrical Burning Smell

An electrical burning smell – which can best be described as the smell of burning plastic – should never come from your furnace. If you do smell this, you likely have a serious problem somewhere in your heating system such as a malfunctioning motor or a frayed wire. If this problem goes unchecked, it could ruin your system’s motor or even start a fire.

If you notice an electrical burning smell from any appliance, you should immediately turn it off. This goes double for your heating system. Turn off your heat and contact an HVAC professional immediately to prevent damage to your furnace and your home.

Contact Jeffries Heating & Air + Plumbing for Further Assistance

Dusty or moldy smells that go away after running your heating system aren’t cause for alarm, but lingering smells from your HVAC system are never good. If you’re concerned about a strange smell coming from your furnace or if you have any other HVAC-related issues, don’t hesitate to contact Jeffries Heating & Air + Plumbing as soon as possible. Jeffries Heating & Air + Plumbing offers heating services to homeowners in Somerset and our friendly staff can work with practically any kind of heating system. We provide maintenance for furnaces and heat pumps, and we do our best to fix minor issues before they become costly repairs.

For more information about our heating and cooling services or if you suspect that you have a problem with your heating system, contact Jeffries Heating & Air + Plumbing in Somerset today.

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