Why Does It Smell When I Turn My Furnace On
Do you notice a burning smell when you turn the furnace on for the first time each winter? There are several reasons that the smell may occur. Usually the smell is nothing to worry about, but it can indicate an underlying problem. Here’s how to evaluate whether the smell should be taken seriously.
When a furnace is started the first time after months of not being used, the elements in the combustion chamber are coated with dust and other particles. When the furnace heats up, these particles burn off and cause a smell. Usually the smell dissipates after a short time. To rid a building of the smell, open windows and turn on exhaust fans to speed air exchange.
If the burning smell persists, check the unit’s air filter. If the filter has not been cleaned recently, either clean it or replace it according to the manufacturer’s directions. A dirty filter allows airborne particles like animal dander, insect parts and mold to settle on blowers, heating elements, ductwork and coils. Over time, these elements become coated with grime, which reduces the unit’s efficiency.
If the air filter is clean and the smell is still present, it is time to take a good look at other elements of the system. If there is a smoky smell, the flue should be checked. A smell of burning plastic can indicate overheated electrical wires, a problem with the heat exchanger, improperly working blower or faulty motor. If it is not possible to identify the source of the smell, a professional HVAC service technician should evaluate the problem. These problems are more serious and can cause a fire to start.
One of the best ways to keep a heating and cooling system working well is to have regular tune-ups. Preventive maintenance reduces the need for emergency furnace repair and enhances efficiency of the system. A well-maintained HVAC furnace uses less energy to operate, saving both energy and dollars.
If you have any questions about why your furnace smells like something’s burning, or if you need a heat pump system serviced or installed in your home, call a professional near you.