Be Cautious of These 3 Furnace Smells

what does burning dust smell like

Be Cautious of These 3 Furnace Smells

Posted by
Ed Miller on Wed, Dec 03, 2014

Your furnace is a part of your home that you likely don’t consider too frequently when it’s warm outside. However, when old man winter comes around, your furnace becomes the most valuable appliance in your home since it can save you from being cold. In many places, not having a properly working furnace can actually be dangerous if the temperatures drop below a certain point.

One of the most obvious signs that your furnace isn’t working properly after a long summer is that it’s producing strange electrical smells. Odd electrical smells can indicate a variety of problems, some more serious than others. But if you’re like the average homeowner, you likely can’t diagnose them on your own.

Use this guide to help you figure out what the three most common electrical smells from your furnace might be. You may not be able to fix each problem, but identifying what’s going wrong is a step in the right direction.

Electrical Smells or Metallic Smells

Electrical smells and metallic smells are generally pretty distinct for the average homeowner since they don’t occur too frequently. In some cases, these smells will be a bit like burning wires, though they generally have a slightly different odor.

Electrical smells coming from your furnace often indicate certain components on the inside are getting too hot. If electrical smells come with a furnace that randomly shuts itself off, it’s likely a protective mechanism that won’t allow the furnace to run anymore and you’ll need to call for service immediately to use the furnace.

Mechanical smells in your furnace may also indicate that certain parts on the inside that are literally made of rubber or metal are actually burning due to old age and general wear and tear. These parts will need to be replaced, but this is generally a minor repair that won’t cost you too much money.

If you notice electrical smells or metallic smells coming from your furnace, you need to shut it off immediately and not continue running it, even if it’s cold outside and in your home. Call your service provider for a repair as soon as you can, and once the furnace has been fixed, monitor it closely for a day or two to make sure the smell is gone.

Rotten Egg Smell

The smell of rotten eggs isn’t exactly a pleasant one, but in the case of your furnace, it should make things relatively easy to identify. After all, you’ll be able to tell that your furnace is causing the problem – not another appliance in your home.

In most cases, rotten egg smell coming from your furnace indicates that you have a gas leak. This is the case because most gas companies scent their gas with a discernible smell to let technicians and residents know that they could have a leak since gas is unscented on its own.

The problem with the rotten egg smell in your home is that it could cause an explosion or fire in your house since you have gas in the air. If you’re near the furnace, go ahead and turn it off as soon as possible and open up windows to allow clean air flow.

Next, you need to leave your home and call the gas company for service. They may need to turn your gas off before your furnace can be fixed since it’s dangerous to work in an area with a gas leak.

Dusty Burning Smells

The smell of burning dust inside your furnace is one of the most common that you’ll ever come across. In fact, most homeowners that have ever had a furnace problem report this smell at one point or another.

In most cases, the dusty burning smell coming from your furnace is actually quite normal. If you’re just turning it on for the first time this winter, chances are the furnace is actually burning away any dirt and dust that accumulates inside. This is very normal and you will generally notice that the smell goes away within a few hours.

However, if the dusty burning smell from the furnace doesn’t dissipate quickly after turning your furnace on for the first time of the season, there are some things you can do on your own to try and fix it. The first is making sure the air filter in your furnace is clean and up to date. If you’re not sure, your best bet is to replace the air filter and make note of when you replaced it so you can do it as frequently as suggested by your furnace manufacturer or technician.

If time doesn’t get rid of the dusty burning smell and replacing your air filter doesn’t either, you need to make a call for service. It could be a serious problem with your unit or you could simply need a deep cleaning that you won’t be able to take care of on your own.

Your furnace is an appliance that’s particularly important, and if you’re having problems with your unit, you need to get it checked out immediately. You don’t want to face a cold winter without it and the longer you wait to fix a small problem, the more expensive the repair will be. You may even be faced with a furnace replacement if your unit is older and not well cared for.

Along with having your system repaired as soon as possible when you’re having a problem, you also want to schedule regular maintenance to make sure it’s running at full capacity. You’ll save money on your heating bill this way and repairs will be less frequent and cost far less when they are needed.

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