furnace smell

furnace smell

That unusual smell that runs all over the house when the heater is on can be pretty intimidating. Your worries are justified despite this being a common thing that most homes with central heating systems experience. Basically, if you live in a house full of occupants and pets but neglect the HVAC systems, these issues are relatively common. Although, as you will realize, problems like unusual smells are in your control. You’ll see what this means in a moment. But first, let’s start with what causes these dreadful smells in your home.

Most Common Unusual Smells From The Heater

You don’t have to be a “super smeller” to recognize and categorize the unfamiliar smells that are common with heaters. Although some smells are quite normal and safe, some aren’t and require specialized help to eliminate. Ideally, the foul odors you experience result from burning material or leakages. 

Therefore, based on what causes the stench, you should be able to slightly detect smells, such as burned material, rotten eggs, or a musty smell. Don’t worry if none of these relate to the smell you experienced. This is because the actual smell might vary, but the causes remain the same. So, what exactly causes the unusual smells?

1. Burning Material Smell

This is the most common smell you will come across. It could mean that something is overheating in the furnace, or there’s burning foreign material. Depending on which it is, you might experience odors such as melting rubber, smoke, or burning plastic.

If the odor is more of the furnace heating foreign material, that’s a normal occurrence. Dust and debris that are stuck on the heater burn off when it’s turned on. However, when you notice scents such as burning plastic or rubber, that could mean a technical hitch in the heater. 

The smell is bound to disappear eventually with burning dust, but for burning plastic smells, you might need to contact an HVAC professional. Technical hitches could easily escalate into bigger problems, like fire.

2. Rotten Egg Smell

Most gasses are odorless, so to help detect leaks, special chemicals are added to give them distinct smells. To most people, this chemical smells like rotten eggs. If you detect a rotten smell coming from the heater, the probability is high that there is a gas leak from the gas furnace. 

Gas leakage is the last thing you want to be experiencing in your home. Leaks are dangerous if uncontained. Slight friction can cause a massive explosion in the case of a gas leak. You don’t want that to happen. 

The best course of action is to ensure proper ventilation first and get everyone out of the house. Then, contact the gas company or HVAC company that you trust to handle the case promptly. 

Other Unusual Smells From the Heater

Some of these scents depend heavily on the type of heater you are using. For instance, if you rely on heat pumps to warm your house, you might experience musty smells coming from the air vents. This smell is usually caused when mold and bacteria in the vents are heated off. This smell can affect your respiratory system if inhaled over a long period. Avoid this from happening by having the air vents cleaned regularly. 

General Guidelines for Avoiding These Smells

Simple maintenance practices such as checkups and cleanups reduce the chances of gas leaks, technical hitches, and dust build-up that cause putrid odors in your home. Situations, like travel, increase the possibilities of dust build-up, thus leading to burning odors. Also, these smells are common during the beginning of the cold season, especially if the heater has not been in use. 

In both cases, you need to call an HVAC technician to inspect the heater and ensure it’s good to go. Changing the air filters in the vents is also effective at reducing musty odors. 

A thorough cleaning of the vents will eliminate bacteria and other deposits causing foul odor during heating. Once you have explained to the HVAC company the type of smell you experienced, they will be able to pinpoint the issue and come up with a solution.

furnace smells

Prevent Unusual Heater Smells with Maintenance 

Properly maintaining and servicing your heater helps extend its life and keep it running efficiently. That’s where we come in. Anthem offers our Preferred Maintenance package at an incredible value. Each maintenance package is a one-year commitment and includes benefits that extend the life of your equipment, keep it running efficiently, and give you peace of mind. Call us today on 760-892-2621 for a free estimate.

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