If you smell a burning odor coming from your furnace, don’t panic! There are many reasons why your furnace may be emitting a burning smell and not all of them are bad.
A burning smell from your furnace is typically caused by:
- Your furnace burning off dust or dirt
- A clogged air filter
- An electrical problem
- Your furnace burning a plastic object
In this blog, we’ll break down why your furnace may be giving off a burning smell and which issues might require professional help.
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Reason #1: Your furnace burning off dust or dirt
The first few times you turn on your heat for winter, you might notice a burning smell in your home. Don’t fret; this is normal. Your furnace is merely burning off any dust or dirt that has settled on the furnace components during the summer, producing a burnt and dusty smell. Your ductwork then circulates the smell throughout your home.
If you suspect this is the reason why you’re smelling a burnt odor, wait it out. The smell should go away as the dust burns off. If the smell lingers more than a week or two, you’ll want to contact an HVAC technician to clean your furnace.
Reason #2: Your furnace has a clogged air filter
A clogged air filter is a common reason why you may notice a burning smell. A clogged filter can lead to dust and dirt buildup on your system. When the dust burns off, you’ll get a burning smell (similar to what we mentioned earlier).
A clogged air filter can also cause the blower motor to overheat. The blower motor takes the heated air produced by the furnace and circulates the warmed air throughout your home. If the air filter is clogged, the blower motor has to strain to push out heated air from the furnace through the clogged filter. When the blower motor has to strain, it can overheat and bring about a burning smell.
Reason #3: Your furnace has an electrical problem
Another reason you may notice a burning smell coming from your furnace is an electrical problem. If your furnace has frayed electrical wirings or a failing motor, it may produce a burning smell. Normally, your furnace will shut itself down if it detects an electrical issue. However, if something is wrong with the furnace’s safety system, your furnace won’t shut down.
Depending on the electrical problem, you may end up with either an electrical fire or a dead motor, which is an expensive repair. If you suspect your furnace has an electrical issue, you’ll want to turn off your furnace and contact an HVAC technician immediately to repair your furnace.
Reason #4: Your furnace burning a plastic object
If the burning smell coming from your furnace has a distinct burnt plastic odor, a foreign object probably has made its way inside your furnace. This could be any random plastic object, from a water bottle cap to a toy, dropped into the ductwork or furnace. As the plastic melts in your furnace, it produces a burning odor.
The plastic-burning odor could also be coming from the plastic shielding on the furnace’s electrical wires. If the plastic shields crack, the plastic can fall and melt in your furnace.
Either way, plastic burning can create harmful fumes. You’ll want to contact an HVAC professional immediately to fish out the plastic.
Want to get rid of the burning smell? Contact Four Seasons
We make furnace inspections and repairs quick and easy. From 2-hour appointment windows and fast, same-day service, our technicians can repair any furnace make or model within hours.