Common Furnace Odors and What Causes Them

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Your home has a number of ways of letting you know that all is not well.

For example, that offensive odor coming from your kitchen could mean it’s time to clean and deodorize your garbage disposal. Or maybe it just means it’s time to throw out those left-overs…from last month.

While some issues are more annoying than serious, others could lead to real problems if not tended to promptly. Take your furnace, for example. It’s prone to making loud, unusual noises AND to emitting certain telltale odors. When it comes to the latter, it’s important to know what’s considered normal, and what could lead to a costly repair, system failure, or worse, a fire hazard.

These are the four of the most common furnace odors, and what most likely is causing them:

  1. If you notice a dusty smell the first few times you turn the furnace on at the beginning of the heating season, don’t be concerned. During the off-season, your furnace vents and ducts collect dust. As the furnace cycles on, it burns the dust off. This smell should disappear after a while. If it continues, it’s probably a good idea to call your HVAC contractor.
  2. A musty or moldy odor could indicate that moisture is leaking into your system. And nothing suits mold better than a dark, warm, and moist environment like your furnace. Another potential problem you’ll want to investigate sooner than later.
  3. An electrical burning smell typically signifies that a furnace component is worn out, wiring is frayed, or the system is overheating. Turn your furnace off and contact your HVAC contractor right away for a thorough inspection to pinpoint the cause of that odor.
  4. A very faint odor of natural gas is common if you are standing near an operating furnace. However, if you detect the scent of rotten eggs, you could have a gas leak on your hands and, as a precaution, you should evacuate your home and then call 911 immediately from your cell phone or a nearby safe location.

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, which is why we urge you to contact Burton today for a thorough cleaning and inspection of your home heating system.  It’s a great way to ensure a season of uninterrupted heat while simultaneously reducing your home heating costs. Annual preventative maintenance also provides you and your family with added safety. Contact us today for prompt, professional, and friendly service.