Now that it’s sweater weather, there have probably been a handful of occasions where you’ve turned on your furnace to get warm. And, like many people, you may have experienced some unpleasant smells when you turned on your system.
It’s important to know that these smells can be a symptom of small issues and/or dangerous ones. So let’s get into 5 reasons your furnace might be making funny smells!
Like most people, you probably don’t turn on your heat during spring and summer, which results in dust accumulating inside your furnace. So when you do turn it on, the flame and heat it produces burns off the dust resulting in a bad smell; the smell of burning dust.
This is the most common of the bad smells and should cause you the least worry. And it’s normal for this smell to last for a couple of days or a few heating cycles and then disappear.
2 Oil: That New System Smell
Many people purchase and get new HVAC systems installed in their homes and businesses during the summer. If you’re one of these people, besides having your furnace tested after installation, it’ll remain off until it gets cold when you need it.
And when you finally turn on your system, it’s common to smell burning oil. This happens when the coating of protective oil on your system burns off. Again, it’s normal for this smell to last for a couple of days and then go away; if it doesn’t, call a pro!
3 Rotten Eggs
Warning: If you smell what smells like rotten eggs or sulfur when you turn on your heat, turn it off immediately!
What you’re dealing with is a gas leak! Natural gas is indeed odorless; however, gas companies will add a substance called mercaptan to your gas so that you can smell it and call for help before anything bad happens.
The most serious cause of this smell could be that components in your system are overheating: This could mean the rubber or plastic insulation on your electrical wires is being burnt off, your capacitor is malfunctioning, or the belt on your motor needs adjusting, etc. Whatever the problem, remember that burning plastic is toxic. So if you smell it, we advise that you shut off your system and contact an HVAC professional!
The smell of burning plastic can also be caused by something plastic or rubber stuck in your vents or ducts. Sometimes this happens because you unknowingly knock something into your vents, especially if you have vintage ones with large openings. And sometimes it’s because little ones, out of curiosity and fun, like to put toys, toothbrushes, or wrappers into vents. We’re parents too, so we know how it is! Whatever the cause, you might be able to resolve this issue yourself by isolating the area where the smell is coming from and extracting the object(s).
5 Must and Mildew
Sometimes, the smells of must and mildew occur because your air filter needs to be changed or your humidifier filter (if you have one) needs to be cleaned. So don’t forget to change your air filter every 2 – 3 months! As for cleaning your humidifier filter, you can soak it for 15 – 20 minutes in a mixture of water, and white vinegar, then rinse it with hot water. And be sure to let it dry before you reinstall it!
At Absolute Heat & Air, we’ve provided superior quality heating, ventilation, & air conditioning (HVAC) services in the Northwest Arkansas & Gainesville, TX areas for over 10 years now. So if you’re experiencing any concerning or persistent smells from your furnace, contact us by clicking here.