Brr, i’s getting cold out there! No doubt at this point you’ve switched the thermostat over to “heat” and have been slowly cranking it up. If you’re experiencing a burning smell or some other kind of odor when your furnace is on, we can help you identify what it might be.
Different smells are especially common the first time you turn on your heat for the season. Some indicate more serious problems than others. What might be plaguing your home’s heating system? Let’s take a look!
One of the biggest causes of burning smells from heating units is dust. At the start of any season, your system will definitely have a layer of dust that needs to burn off. The same goes for the heat strips, which kick on to help heat your home during extra cold weather. It’s likely they are also covered in dust when activating for the first time.
If this smell persists, there may be dust in your ducts and your filter that isn’t going away. Look to a professional to take care of this for you!
Of course, there are other more specific smells that can come from your heating system. Here is what these smells might mean and what you can do:
An Electrical Burning Smell
If the smell you are experiencing is akin to burning plastic or something electrical, there are a few possible culprits.
- Something may be lodged in the duct work that smells when overheated. Example: a child’s toy dropped into the register.
- Something spilled on the register or into the duct work.
- If you don’t find anything in your duct work, it could signify a problem with your furnace. Your furnace could be overheating or have a cracked heat register. You should seek the help of an experienced technician in this case.
A Smoke or Oil Smell
This particularly applies to those with oil furnaces.
- When you have an oily smell emitting from your heater, it’s possible you have a clogged filter. Locate it and make sure to change it as soon as possible.
- Smokey smells are likely caused by a block in your chimney. When there is a clog, smoke goes back through the furnace and comes through your duct work. Removing the blockage is best left to an HVAC professional.
A Musty Odor
Any kind of musty odor could signify mold in your furnace filter or humidifier filter (if that is part of the heating system you have in your home). If you do have a humidifier, be sure to inspect your filter at least once a year. Replace and clean the filter as needed.
You can easily clean your humidifier filter with equal parts water and vinegar. After all, the last thing you want to be doing is breathing in mold!
If none of the easy DIY solutions solve your burning smell problem, or you suspect it’s something more serious from the get-go, get in touch with us ASAP! As the most reliable local HVAC specialist, we are always available to help you.