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Be Cautious of These 3 Furnace Smells

Furnace Smells that You Shouldn’t Ignore

Posted by
Ed Miller on Wed, Dec 03, 2014

Do you smell an odd scent coming from your furnace? Many homeowners experience furnace odors, but don’t realize the possible hazard. The professionals at Snyder Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electric are here to help. Here’s what you should know about the most common furnace smells that you must not ignore.

Four furnace smells to pay attention to

While it’s a good idea to pay attention to any unusual odors coming from your furnace, there are four main ones to be aware of, as they may pose serious risks:

  • A sulfur or rotten egg smell could indicate a gas leak, which is a serious health and safety risk. 
  • A burning plastic or electrical smell could indicate a malfunctioning or overheating furnace, which could result in a fire. 
  • A dusty or moldy smell could indicate a dirty or clogged air filter, which can negatively impact air quality and exacerbate respiratory issues. 
  • A metallic or burning oil smell could indicate a problem with the furnace’s oil burner, which could lead to dangerous carbon monoxide emissions. 

Regular furnace maintenance and inspections can help detect and address any concerning smells or issues before they become major problems. 

Rotten Egg Furnace 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, the 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.

Electrical Furnace Smells or Metallic Furnace 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 it.

Mechanical smells in your furnace may also indicate that certain parts on the inside that are 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.

Dusty Burning Furnace Smells

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

In most cases, the dusty burning smell coming from your furnace is not unusual. If you’re just turning it on for the first time, 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.

What to do if you smell strange odors coming from your furnace

Homeowners must understand burning smells from heaters. It could mean dust is burning, electric burning, or parts of the heater are burning. Identifying the source of the smell is important.

These routine maintenance tips can help:

  • Change furnace filters
  • Check heat exchangers and burners
  • Inspect ductwork

Professional HVAC services can also help. If the burning smell continues or gets worse, turn off the furnace and call a professional service in Fernandina Beach, Florida. Don’t ignore a burning smell from heaters. Take caution for safety.

Common Causes of Burning Smell in Heaters

Here are some common causes of a burning smell in your heater. Take action quickly so you avoid costly repairs or even fires:

  • Burning dust or debris
  • Overheating motor
  • Faulty wiring
  • Frayed electrical cords
  • Faulty heating elements

Dust Build-Up on Components

Dust that has gather on furnace components can cause a burning smell. This is a sign that something is wrong. Dirt and debris collecting on the evaporator coils and heat exchangers can lead to overheating. This smell can come from other places, so it can be hard to locate the source. A pro can inspect and clean the furnace. This prevents dust build-up and keeps the furnace working correctly.

To reduce dirt and dust, the furnace filter should be changed frequently. Humidity levels should be maintained and the home should be kept clean. A clean furnace not only makes the home smell better, but also reduces fire risks and energy use.

Address any burning smells from the furnace right away to avoid damages or dangerous situations.

Clogged or Old Air Filters

Clogged or old air filters can cause a burning smell in heaters. The filters trap dirt, dust and other debris, that can accumulate. This leads to reduced airflow and overheating of the furnace’s components. The electrical burning smell is often accompanied by a humming noise.

Inspect and replace furnace filters regularly to avoid these issues. Proper maintenance and cleaning of the furnace can help too. If you smell burning, turn off the heater and get professional help.

Regular maintenance and filter replacement can prevent issues and prolong furnace life.

Mold and Mildew Growth in Ductwork

Mold and mildew in ductwork can cause health issues, like allergies, asthma, and breathing trouble. If not taken care of, it could damage your HVAC and raise energy bills. Professional services are the best way to keep it from growing.

If you smell burning from your furnace/ducts, that could signal mold growth. Address this ASAP and call a professional for inspection and repair.

Prevention is key! Remember to schedule regular inspections and cleanings for your HVAC.

Foreign Objects Lodged in Vents or Ducts

Foreign objects stuck in vents or ducts can cause a burning smell. This is risky for your web server and hardware. Check your vents and ducts often. Look for dust, debris, or even small animals. These things can block your system, causing it to overheat. Potential hardware failure or fires may happen.

To prevent this, you should get your vents cleaned by a pro regularly. Air filters or air purifiers can help reduce dust and debris from entering your system.

  • Don’t ignore burning smells from your web server or hardware. Maintenance and cleaning can help you avoid disasters.

Electrical Wiring Issues

Electrical wiring problems can be a real nuisance. From flickering lights to blown circuits, there are various signs that your system needs attention. So, be sure to act quickly and carefully.

A burning smell is one of the most frequent electrical warning signs. If you detect burning or smoke coming from an outlet or appliance, immediately turn off the power and call a licensed electrician.

More alerting signs include buzzing or humming sounds, regular power surges, tripped circuits, and flickering lights. These may originate from faulty wiring, overloaded circuits, or outdated electrical systems. To avoid further damage or fire risks, get your system inspected and fixed by an expert.

Regular maintenance and check-ups can stop electrical issues and protect your home and family. Don’t wait to call a licensed electrician if you think something’s wrong.

How to Handle Burning Smell from Heaters

Burning smells from heaters can be worrying. Knowing how to deal with them is important. It stops potential damage and keeps your home safe. Here are our top tips on identifying and handling burning smells from heaters.

Allowing the Heater to Operate for Ten Minutes

Turn the heater on for ten minutes before switching it off. This helps to reduce the smell that comes from burning dust, hair, and other particles inside the unit when it’s not in use. Burning off this debris avoids the unpleasant odor when you switch it on again.

Regular maintenance is essential, like cleaning and changing filters to stop the build-up of debris and keep the heater working well. If the smell persists or gets worse, get a professional to inspect it. That way, you can prevent any potential fires or hazards.

Regularly Replace Air Filters

Replacing air filters in your HVAC system is a must. It helps maintain processing power and stops overheating. This can stop costly repairs or replacements. A clogged filter stops the airflow and reduces efficiency, meaning it works harder for longer. This puts strain on the system’s parts, reducing their lifespan.

Every three months, or more often if you have pets or allergies, replace the filter. This improves airflow and indoor air quality, as well as saving energy and money. Plus, filter replacements are affordable and easy to get. Not replacing the filter can lead to bad smells, like burning dust or hair, and potentially harmful pollutants and allergens in your home.

Set reminders to replace the air filter. This will keep your HVAC system running smoothly.

Cleaning the Heater and Ductwork

Regular cleaning of the heater and ductwork is crucial! Dust, debris and other contaminants can lead to health issues such as asthma, allergies and respiratory problems. A malfunctioning heating system can also emit burning smells, like burnt dust or plastic. So inspect and clean the furnace, air filters, vents and ducts.

DIY methods include vacuuming dust, cleaning filters and wiping down the furnace and ducts. But it’s best to hire a professional HVAC technician once a year. This ensures the heating system works efficiently, saves energy and provides clean, healthy air.

Pro tip: Use high-efficiency air filters and change them regularly to reduce dust and contaminants in the air.

Removing Foreign Objects from Vents or Ducts

It is essential to take out foreign objects from vents and ducts. These can include dirt, dust, debris and even small animals. If not removed, they can clog up the vents or ducts. This makes the HVAC system work harder and increases energy bills.

Turn off the HVAC system before getting started. Use a vacuum or brush to take out any debris blocking the vent or duct. If there are signs of damage or leaks, contact a professional HVAC technician from Snyder immediately.

Put in air filters and get regular maintenance for the HVAC system to stop foreign objects entering the vents or ducts.

Immediate Attention for Electrical Wiring Issues

Attention to electrical wiring must be immediate. This is because potential risks like electrical fires, shocks, and damage to electronics can arise. Signs of faulty wiring include flickering lights, circuit breakers that often trip, burning smells, and unworking outlets. It is important to take care of these issues quickly. Call a professional electrician from Snyder immediately if you have electrical problems. Not taking care of electrical wiring could lead to serious issues, not just for your home, but also for you and your property.

Having a professional from Snyder inspect and maintain your home’s electrical system can help prevent these issues. Pro tip: Get a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors for extra safety.

Importance of Routine Maintenance

Routine maintenance is essential for any device, especially HVAC systems. Maintenance stops small problems from becoming big ones. Also, it can help you save money on costly repairs.

Annual Furnace Inspection

It’s vital to have an annual furnace inspection. A trained technician from Snyder Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electric will check for signs of wear, leaks, and malfunctions.

But don’t forget about maintenance! Three smells could mean danger. A burning smell, like burned hair or plastic, can signal a short circuit. A metallic smell suggests a cracked heat exchanger, which can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Finally, a rotten egg smell could be a gas leak—an immediate safety hazard.

Don’t overlook the importance of regular furnace inspection. Be aware of any odd smells. It could save expensive repairs, keep you safe, and extend your furnace’s life.

Regular Replacement of Air Filters

Replace your air filters regularly! Dirty filters can lead to poor air quality and damage to your furnace. If you smell something unusual, like a burning or metallic odor, replacing your filter is key. Incorporate regular maintenance into your HVAC system to avoid hazards and extend its life.

Change your filter every three months, or even more often if you have allergies or pets. Set a reminder in your calendar or phone, so you don’t forget to check and replace your air filter! The HVAC professionals at Snyder are standing by to help.

Keeping the Heater Clean

Keep your heater clean! It’s essential for efficiency and safety. Get routine maintenance from a pro. You can also do a few things on your own:

  •       Change or clean the air filter each month to stop dust and mess.
  •       Wipe off the furnace exterior with a moist cloth.
  •       Watch out for strange smells. Burning dust, burning metal and burning rubber are all bad signs. Shut off the heater if you smell something odd.

Importance of Addressing Burning Smells from Heaters

Burning smells coming from heaters can be serious. Don’t ignore them! These odors can be dangerous and can point towards a fire hazard. It’s essential to address the burning smell right away.

Reasons for the burning smell may include clogged air filters, electrical faults, debris in the ductwork, or a gas leak. Seek professional help to identify and fix the source of the burning smell. Regular maintenance of your heating system can prevent these smells.

When you notice any unusual smells, noises, or changes in heater function, turn it off and contact the pros at Snyder at 904-447-5945 to eep yourself and your home safe!

Professional Assistance from HVAC Technicians

HVAC techs are key when it comes to sniffing out and taking care of strange furnace smells. Examples include a burning smell, which may be caused by blocked air filters or dusty heat exchanger, and a metallic smell, which might suggest a gas leak. Plus, a burning hair smell could indicate overheating electrical components or even dead critters in the ductwork.

Tinkering with these issues on your own is risky and ineffective. HVAC professionals have the experience and tools to diagnose and repair any weird furnace smell problems. This keeps your home and family safe.

Regular furnace maintenance, like filter switches and expert cleanings, can help stop unusual furnace smells from popping up.

Professional HVAC services are a must for a comfy home. Be careful of certain furnace smells that could point to potential hazards. Contacting Snyder Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electric for professional HVAC maintenance and repair can help avoid risks and ensure your unit is working correctly.

where you’ll find snyder

Snyder Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electric serves families across Florida. You'll find our technicians are just a short phone call away in neighborhoods throughout these counties:


  • Alachua
  • Baker
  • Clay
  • Duval
  • Flagler
  • Nassau
  • St. Johns


  • Broward
  • Martin
  • Miami-Dade
  • Palm Beach
  • St. Lucie

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