Why There Is a Burning Smell When You Turn on the Heat

February 6, 2023 6:34 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

At the start of winter, you may turn on your heating system for the first time since last year. You may be wondering why your furnace smells like it is burning. Often this smell is present when you haven’t used your heating system for some time. While the smell may seem strange to you, it doesn’t always mean that there is an emergency. However, you should not ignore the smell. Read on to learn about some potential causes of a burning smell when turning on your heating system.

Causes of Burning Smells From Your Furnace

If you are wondering why you smell burning when you turn on the heat, here are several causes.

Dust Smell

Sometimes the burning smell that you notice is from dust. This occurs when you have turned your heating system on for the first time in months. If a lot of time has passed since you last used your heating system, a lot of dust and other debris may have accumulated on the burners, air ducts, and heat exchangers. This would explain why you notice a smoky odor when you turn on your furnace — the debris is burning off. Fortunately, this isn’t a cause for concern. Once the dust has completely burned off, the odor should dissipate. If you notice that the odor lingers, you should try swapping out your air filter or contact a professional.

Musty Odor

If, when turning your furnace on for the first time, you notice a musty odor, this can be a clear indicator of mildew or mold. The mold may be present in the ductwork or in the unit itself. It may be trapped in your air filter. Eventually, it may burn off if it is attached to the other debris. However, if you notice that the smell doesn’t disappear, you should try replacing your air filter or have a professional inspect your system.

Burning Odor

If you notice an electrical burning odor coming from your furnace, it may or may not be something serious. In some cases, it could be an object stuck in the ductwork. As your heater warms up, the smell will become noticeable. Additionally, as your furnace ages, the cause may be a worn bearing or an issue with the blower motor. Sometimes the heat can be hot enough to melt your insulation, which could cause a burning smell. This situation could be dangerous and prompt professional attention.

Rotten Eggs Odor

Both propane and gas furnaces can produce a rotten egg smell. If you notice this smell, it is essential that you leave your home immediately and contact your local gas company. This rotten egg smell may be due to a natural gas leak. Do not try to figure out where the leak is coming from on your own. Also, avoid returning to your home until you have been given the okay to do so. Gas leaks are dangerous and should be dealt with by a professional.

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