It’s alarming when your furnace kicks on and you suddenly smell something strange coming from your heat registers. A change in your heating system is a sign something isn’t working as it should. If you are not able to determine the cause of the odour, call for furnace service by a licensed technician to investigate and offer a solution. Neglecting to investigate the cause of these smells can lead to costly heating repair bills or total furnace replacement.
When a furnace is first turned on for the season, it’s normal to experience the smell of burning dust for a brief period. When a heating system is not in use for a while, dust can settle in the ducts and heat exchanger and ignite when the furnace is first lit, but dissipate quickly. At this point in the season, the smell of burning dust is not normal and could signal a problem with dirty and clogged air filters. Inspect and replace your filters first, and if the problem persists, call a licensed technician for professional furnace service to diagnose and fix the problem.
A musty smell is distinctive and indicates mould somewhere in your home comfort system. Visually inspect your furnace filter (and humidifier filter if you have one) and replace if needed. Another place to check is the furnace condensate pump. This is the pump that collects and disposes water. These condensate pumps should be cleaned annually as they can be a breeding ground for mould and bacteria.
Electrical or Plastic Burning Smell:
A ‘burning plastic’ smell or ‘electrical’ smell is distinct and unpleasant. If you smell this odour, you should turn off your heating system immediately and call for furnace service. When plastic or electronics are burning, it is never a good sign. These smells could indicate that the furnace is overheating and that the plastic components or gaskets could be melting. Another cause of this smell could be a wiring issue that is potentially dangerous. Call a trusted HVAC specialist to diagnose and fix this particular problem.
Many gas companies add an odourant to natural gas (which is naturally odourless) as a way to alert people of a possible gas leak. If you smell a distinct garbage or rotten egg smell, leave the house immediately and call for emergency services.
Team Harding is one of the most trusted HVAC specialists for a reason – we are committed to customer satisfaction, quality workmanship and fast, reliable service.
Contact us today if you have any questions about your home comfort systems. We are always happy to help!