furnace smell like burning

Why A Furnace Smells Like It Is Burning

Winters are all about Christmas and cozy evenings. But what if your cozy evenings are disrupted by this strong burning smell as soon as you turn on the Furnace?  

You might have questions like why does my furnace smell? Is it dangerous? Do I need to replace my Furnace? Burning smells coming from your furnace might scare you, but do not worry. These situations are common. This is because around 60 % of homes in the USA use Gas furnaces.

Besides a burning smell, there are a lot of other smells that your furnace can give off. Sometimes, it might smell like rotten eggs, dust, or even melting plastic!

But don’t worry.

There is usually a reason for each of these strange smells. Let’s find out why your furnace smells like it’s burning or any other unusual odor it might have.

We will also give you tips on how to prevent your house from smelling like a stinky furnace.

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Why Furnace smells like Burning and other smells?

You donot have to panic if a burning smell comes from your furnace in most cases. A burning smell usually means nothing other than polluted indoor air. But in some cases, a burning smell might be hazardous. Heating systems, especially the ones running on fossil fuels, can produce a toxic gas that can be pulled into the house.

Poor indoor air quality can lead to numerous health problems like heart disease, lung disease, and even cancer. In kids, poor air quality can cause pneumonia. Sometimes, strange smells can be a warning sign for your furnace and lead to potential health concerns.

It is important to know that heating systems are the top reason for fires in the USA. (source)
Keep a tab on how your furnace smells occasionally to avoid potential fire risks. Keep reading to find some bonus information on the source of your furnace smell and why it smells like that.

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Different furnace smells that require immediate attention.

1. Dust Burning Smell

Have you ever wondered what burning dust smells like? It’s mostly like something burning, but you can’t really pinpoint what exactly it is. During the summer, when your furnace is not in use, dust gathers in and around it.

So, when you switch it on, that dust burns up, creating that cooking-like smell. But don’t worry; it usually goes away after a few minutes. However, if the smell persists, it might be a good idea to call a heating system expert to check it out.

2. Gunpowder

A gunpowder smell is not necessarily a safety hazard but could mean an alarm from your heating system. When your furnace smells like fireworks or gunpowder, know that you are dealing with an overheated fan motor or a fried circuit board.

If you get a gunpowder smell from your furnace, it is suggested that you keep your furnace system off for the time being. If you keep your system on in situations like this, you are pushing your system toward more damage. Furthermore, contact an HVAC Technician to look at your Furnace before using it again.

3. Burnt Plastic Smell

If you are smelling burnt plastic from your furnace, there could be a lot of reasons behind it.

For example, unknown objects like toys, utensils, or pet items might accidentally end up in your furnace system. You might not be aware of how these toys and plastic items ended up there, but they are causing quite a lot of harm.

Another common reason behind this plasticy smell could be your furnace’s motor getting too hot, which is a sign to switch it off and get professional help. Finally, if you smell burning plastic, it could indicate that some parts of your furnace or electrical components are worn out and need fixing.

4. Smoky smell and a Burning Oil smell

A furnace that runs on oil can smell like burning oil, and most times, it indicates nothing as long as your air filters have been updated recently. The oil-burning smell is very common in oil furnaces.

If your air filters are not updated and you get a smoky, oil-burning smell from your HVAC system, call an HVAC Technician to look into the matter. They can help you to find the reason behind that smell.

However, it’s important to be aware that even if the smell is normal for an oil furnace, it means harmful toxins are entering your home, and you’re breathing them in. So, it’s still something to keep an eye on.

5. A Stinky Rotten Egg Smell

You know that not-so-nice smell of rotten eggs? If you ignore that smell, you will literally push your family towards danger.

This yucky stench indicates something is majorly wrong with your furnace. It could mean there is a gas or oil leak in your heater, which is super dangerous. If you start feeling sleepy whenever you switch on your heater and smell that rotten egg smell, it’s probably sulfur from the leak.

In these circumstances, you must immediately switch off your furnace and call for help from Certified HVAC technicians.

6. No Smell, But the Carbon Monoxide Detector is Beeping!

You might be surprised to learn that the most dangerous smell from your furnace is actually no smell at all!

You risk carbon monoxide poisoning when you use heaters like gas, propane, or oil furnaces at home. But here’s the tricky part: carbon monoxide doesn’t have a smell.

That’s why it’s super important to have carbon monoxide detectors on every house floor.

But how can you tell if your furnace is leaking carbon monoxide?

Here are some signs:

  • Soot around your furnace.
  • Weird smells that aren’t normal.
  • And the scariest one-your pilot light, the little flame in your furnace, looks yellow instead of blue.

If you suspect there might be a carbon monoxide leak, don’t hesitate:

  • Turn off your heating system.
  • Get out of your house.
  • Call the fire department and an HVAC technician right away!

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious business, so always take it seriously.

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Takeaway – Regular Checkups of your Furnace

It is important to keep your furnace in good shape for a cozy and safe home in the colder months. Experts advise scheduling annual check-ups for your HVAC system, especially in the fall. (source) These check-ups must be done regardless of the age of your system.

During the check-up, a technician will inspect various parts of your furnace, such as the thermostat, condensate drain, electrical connections, and moving parts.

Don’t skip these check-ups to reduce the risk of potential hazards like carbon monoxide leaks or fires!

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Does your furnace stink? Or is your furnace due for its annual check-up? Schedule your yearly furnace service and repair in Sacramento with us today. At Heald Mechanical, we prioritize your comfort and safety. Our licensed professionals will thoroughly inspect your furnace, ensuring everything runs efficiently and safely. Don’t compromise on warmth and security. Get in touch with us today!

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