A burning smell from your furnace may not be anything serious, especially if you’ve just turned it on at the beginning of the season. However, the issue still deserves your attention. You must consider the type of smell to decide what action needs to be taken. In many cases, a professional repair is required, but not always. Here are four things that could be wrong if your furnace is making a burning smell.
Dust Is Burning Away
If the smell of burning dust happens when you turn the furnace on for the first time of the season, it’s probably just accumulated dust burning off components. This is normal and isn’t a cause for concern. The burners, heat exchanger, and other components get dusty when they aren’t used, so you’ll smell it when it starts working again. To reduce the odor next year, have the system professionally checked and cleaned before the season starts. If the smell lasts more than a few minutes, something else is wrong.
Filters Are Clogged
A clogged air filter can generate furnace smells in at least two ways. It can cause excess dirt to accumulate on components which smells as it burns off, as already covered. A clogged filter can also cause the blower motor to work harder than it should to maintain your desired temperature, leading to overheating of the blower and eventually of the other components as well. Cleaning or replacing the filter can stop the problem from getting worse, but any damage to components must be professionally repaired.
Parts Are Overheating
Whether the filter is clogged or not, the plastic or electrical components of your system can overheat and cause a burning smell. Furnaces are designed to turn off when problems happen, but safety features sometimes fail. Even the best residential HVAC system can overheat if not properly maintained. If you smell plastic burning or an odor that reminds you of gunpowder coming from your vents or the system itself, turn the furnace off and contact a repair company. These smells can be toxic and need quick attention.
Oil Is Smoking
If you have an oil furnace, the smell of smoke or burning oil could indicate that the system has not been serviced properly. A residential HVAC repair company can change the oil filter, which may prevent overheating in the future, and repair or replace components that are damaged. Oil furnaces should not spread smoke, an oil smell, or any other foul odor through your home, but regular maintenance is essential to keeping them running properly.
While a burning dust smell may be nothing to worry about, the smell of plastic burning, gunpowder, oil, or smoke needs immediate attention. Furnaces can be dangerous when something goes wrong, and you don’t want to put your family or your home in jeopardy. When there’s a bad smell other than dust, turn the system off and get help right away.