Why Does My Furnace Smell?

Nov 19, 2019 | Furnace, Heating

Turning on your furnace for the first time when winter weather arrives can create some odd smells. These odors are usually nothing serious, but you need to be aware of the various types of odors and what they could potentially mean. It is important to know whether the smells are harmless or whether they could be cause for concern.


If You Notice: A Chemical Smell Coming from Your Furnace  

A chemical-type smell coming from your furnace when it is turned on may indicate that there is a crack in your furnace’s heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is responsible for removing the heated air and fumes from the furnace’s combustion chamber and carrying them out and away from your home. If you notice this type of smell, you will want to take the situation very seriously as it could be an indication of the presence of deadly carbon monoxide gas. There is also the danger of your home catching fire. Get everyone out of the house and call an HVAC specialist right away from a safe location. Prior to the beginning of the winter season, make sure your home is equipped with a sufficient number of both carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors with new batteries. This is one of the best ways to protect your home and family. 


If You Notice: A Burning, Electrical-Type Odor when You Turn On Your Furnace:

An electrical odor emanating from your furnace can mean that the system is overheating. Your furnace contains electrical wires that are located close together. If they become loose and entangled, a fire could start. If these wires become loose and get too close to nearby heated metal pieces, they can catch fire. As soon as you notice an electrical odor, shut down your system immediately and contact an HVAC specialist right away. 



If You Notice: The Smell of Smoke or Smoke Coming Through Your Vents 

If you see or smell smoke when you turn on your furnace, this means there is a fire present somewhere within your heating system. Shut the furnace off and immediately get everyone out of the house and a safe distance away. Contact the fire department and an HVAC specialist right away. 

Smoke may also find its way into your home if your chimney becomes blocked. This situation is not as dangerous as a fire, but it is still serious. This means that the smoke and fumes have no way to get out of the house, so they will back up and spread throughout your home. If this happens, shut off your furnace and contact an HVAC specialist right away. If the smell or presence of smoke is minimal, you may try opening windows and doors to clear it out. You will want to shut down your heating system until an HVAC technician arrives to determine the problem. 

When you fire up your furnace for the first time after it has gone unused during the warmer months, you may notice other types of odors as well. Most of these are nothing to worry about and will disappear on their own. These include: 


If You Notice: An Oil-Like Odor Coming from Your Furnace 

If an oil-like odor is present when you turn on your furnace, this means that the furnace’s air filter needs to be replaced right away. Once this is done, if the odor is still noticeable, contact an HVAC technician and schedule an inspection of your system. 


If You Notice: A Burning, Dusty Odor when You Turn On Your Furnace 

Throughout the warmer months, when your furnace is not in use, it can accumulate dust and debris inside. The first few times you turn it on when cold weather arrives, you may notice a slight burning odor as your system burns off the dust. Replace your furnace air filter before turning it on for the season and play it safe by scheduling a professional inspection and thorough cleaning of your entire HVAC system by a trained HVAC technician. Make sure to change the furnace air filter on a regular basis. Small details such as this may be easy to overlook, but when neglected, they can lead to problems and even damage to your heating system. 


If You Notice: A Musty Odor Coming from Your Furnace

If you notice a musty, unpleasant odor when you turn on your furnace after months of sitting unused, this can be an indication that there is mold inside your heating system. This, of course, is not something you want being dispersed throughout your home and creating an unhealthy environment for you and your family. Before you turn on your heating system for the cold-weather season, contact an HVAC specialist and schedule a professional inspection and cleaning to avoid this type of situation. 


Contact Xenia Heating and Air for all your HVAC needs, including a seasonal cleaning and complete inspection of your entire HVAC system. Call us today at 937-708-8451 or visit our website at https://www.xeniaheatingandair.com/schedule-now/ to schedule your appointment.