Furnace Smells Like Burning: Common Causes And What To Do

Furnace Smells Like Burning: Common Causes And What To Do

Furnace Smells Like Burning: Common Causes And What To DoMost of us are familiar with a kind of “funky” burning smell that occurs the first time we turn on our gas or oil furnace at the beginning of the heating season. It is usually nothing serious and quickly passes once the furnace has been on for a while.

But there are a few times when a burning smell is an indicator of a much larger and more serious problem. And knowing when a “funny smell” is a sign of something bigger, potentially a problem, is important.

At John Cipollone Inc., we have specialized in the repair, service, and installation of all kinds of furnaces for over 60 years. Gas, oil, electric, you name it!

Your furnace is a fairly complicated mechanical system integral to the comfort of your home. It burns combustible fuel, so when you smell something that doesn’t seem quite right, it is a good idea to check it out. If you live in the Havertown, PA area and are looking for a little help with your furnace, give us a call at (610) 446-7877, or contact us online!

Safety Issues When Your Furnace Has a Burning Smell

More often than not a burning smell coming from your filter is not necessarily cause for alarm. However, if you have a gas furnace and smell a “rotten egg” smell, then you do have cause for alarm.

The smell of rotten eggs coming from your furnace is a sign of a gas leak. Turn off your furnace immediately and call 911. Leave the house until you get the all-clear from your gas company and HVAC technician.

Heater Smells Like Burning When it’s First Turned On

That beginning of the heating season smell is easy to forget that it happens – that is until you turn on your heat and you smell it. Let’s break down the most common causes of smells coming from your furnace.

Usually, this initial burning smell is the dust and dirt that may have settled onto your heating system. When you first turn it on, this burns off, giving you that burning smell. This is nothing to worry about!

Common Causes for a Furnace Smelling Like Burning

  • Dirty Filter
  • Wires or Casing are Burning
  • Blower Motor Damage
  • Cracked Heat Exchanger

Filter is Dirty

Your air filter should be changed and start fresh with the new heating season. if you have a dirty air filter, it’s going to blow dirty air into your home.

What to Do

Solution: Change your furnace air filters every 90 days to ensure proper airflow and to clean the air going through your house.

Wires or Casing are Burning

A burning rubber or plastic smell – means trouble! It can indicate a problem with electrical connections in your HVAC system.

Sometimes improper voltage or physical trauma can create a break or fault that can burn off the wire’s protective coating or insulation. As you might expect, any kind of wiring problem might spark a fire.

What to Do

Solution: If you smell burning plastic or insulation, contact your HVAC technician for system diagnostics and repairs. Sometimes the repair is a simple adjustment or wire or component replacement.

This is another reason why it is a good idea to schedule a yearly or seasonal service with your HVAC technician. A regular service will check all wiring and connections. A seasonal or yearly tune-up is definitely money well spent.

Blower Motor Damaged

Your furnace blower motor is the workhorse that pushes warm air through your ductwork and throughout the house. If it needs to work harder due to clogged air filters or clogged ventilation lines your furnace can overheat.

Blocked return vents can keep cold air from circulating into the system. When this happens, heat can become trapped within the furnace and overheat components like your heat exchanger and blower motor.

Luckily most furnaces are equipped with an override switch that will shut down the system when overheated. When furnaces overheat, the system can create a burning smell.

Read More: 7 Reasons Your Furnace Won’t Ignite

Cracked Heat Exchanger

A cracked heat exchanger can occur when airflow is blocked. The system can accumulate so much heat that the heat exchanger will crack, which can allow carbon monoxide to leak into your home.

What to Do

Solution: At the first sign of a burning smell coupled with poor airflow, contact your HVAC technician for a system check. Always make sure that you have functioning carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

Burnt Smell From Furnace FAQs

At John Cipollone Inc., we have been performing furnace repairs in the Havertown, PA area for over 60 years. If you are in need of some help with your furnace, give us a call at (610) 446-7877, or click here to contact us online.

What does electrical burning smell like?

Electrical burning smells like burning rubber or plastic. It’s usually a very noticeable, funky smell.

Are there warning signs before an electrical fire?

Burning rubber smells, and mechanical flickering and failures are signs of problems. When in doubt, turn off your furnace and call your HVAC technician.

Is it bad if your furnace smells?

Funky smells are never good. They are all not “bad” but they all reinforce the need for seasonal or annual system tune-ups. Regular furnace service helps get ahead of problems before they start.

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