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6 Reasons Your Furnace Smells When You Turn it on This Winter  

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6 Reasons Your Furnace Smells When You Turn it on This Winter  


“Why does it smell like something is on fire?” is a question we often get during this time of year. Any smell you notice from your furnace is a good indication that a maintenance or service call is needed on your heating system by a licensed professional. If any of the below or more serious odors aren’t addressed promptly, they could lead to bigger problems in the near or distant future. Taking good care of your furnace helps prevent some of those issues and extends the unit’s life.


Here’s why your furnace will most likely greet you with a burning smell this winter:


Burning Odor

When your heating system is not in use, it collects dust over the summer season and distributes over your blower section and evaporator. As a result, those dust particles burn off the first time you turn on your furnace, which is what contributes to the unpleasant smell. Though the scent starts with your furnace, it will travel throughout your home through the vents. This smell is perfectly normal and will disappear as you utilize your furnace in the winter season, but this smell is a strong indication that your system is dirty and needs a deep cleaning. Scheduling a heating preventive maintenance can provide you with information on how dirty your system is and what options we can provide for a deep cleaning. If your furnace is producing a funny smell for more than a day, you might have a bigger problem on your hands.


New System Odors

Upon first use, new furnaces might cause an unpleasant odor due to the protective oil coating on the inside. Much like a new oven, this protective coating must burn off. This smell should last for a day or two at most.


Smoke Odor

Unlike the first two kinds of smells, a smoke odor coming from your furnace is cause for concern and should warrant the visit of an HVAC expert. A furnace that produces a strange or funny smoky smell may have an obstructed flue pipe. When the flue pipe is blocked, smoke can’t pass through it. If smoke can’t pass through the flue pipe, it will travel through the furnace ducts and infiltrate the environment it’s in. When this happens, your furnace should shut down automatically with safety features built into the furnace.  If it does not shut down the furnace on your own, turn off your gas supply line, and call a professional for help. A professional should inspect the flue pipe as well as the safety limits in the system for proper operation.


Plastic Smell

A plastic smell coming from your furnace means that some components are malfunctioning. If left untreated, the overheating of the furnace can cause a fire. If your furnace smells of plastic after first turning it on, shut down the heating system and have a licensed professional take a look.


Rotten Eggs Odor

This is probably the most concerning odor that could come from your furnace. Gas companies add a substance to natural gas to warn people when a gas leak has occurred. If you notice a funny rotten egg smell near your furnace, this is a sign of a dangerous gas leak. To prevent health issues, you should evacuate your home immediately. Other than gas leaks, home fires sometimes occur because of broken furnace parts, dust buildup, and loose items surrounding the machine. Broken pieces cause machine malfunction. Dust buildup and loose items can catch fire easily. Regular maintenance of your furnace prevents home fires from occurring. Contact a licensed professional, and don’t re-enter the house until you’re told it’s safe to do so.


Oil Smell

An oily smell coming from your furnace might not be a big deal, but it might need a licensed professionals attention. An oily odor could mean the filter in your furnace simply needs to be replaced. If you’ve neglected to change your air filter, this could contribute to the burning smell as well. Dirty or clogged air filters can cause your furnace to overheat. However, if the smell lasts for more than a day, it could mean that an oil leak has occurred. If this is the case, call a licensed professional to check it out ASAP.


Other Dangerous Problems You Can’t Smell

There can also be those issues that don’t smell which are the most dangerous including carbon monoxide leaks. About half of all household furnaces are fueled by natural gas. Natural gas furnaces typically contain a mixture of carbon-based fuels, such as methane. Carbon monoxide might cause only minor symptoms such as headaches, but it can be fatal if someone inhales a significant amount. All gas furnaces emit small amounts of carbon monoxide. When furnaces are maintained regularly, those small amounts exit through the ventilation system before ever reaching parts of a home or facility. When furnaces aren’t maintained properly, those small amounts of carbon monoxide enter the home and increase over time, resulting in significant amounts of gas in the air. If you notice a funny smell in your living space, call a licensed professional to inspect your furnace to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. It is important to perform regular maintenance checks on your furnace to make sure it’s functioning properly.


Our licensed technicians are here to keep your family safe and comfortable by offering dependable furnace repair and furnace installation services in Willis, Texas. In addition, our team offers other types of HVAC repair solutions such as air conditioning repair, air conditioning replacement, and whole-house humidifier installations. Give our team a call at (936) 890-4070 or book an appointment on our website.

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