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Why Does My Furnace Smell Like Something is Burning?

A burning smell in your home can be alarming, especially if it occurs when your furnace is turned on. The timing and duration of the smell is important in determining the severity of the situation. It’s also important to pay attention to any other unusual smells emanating from your system. Heating is the second highest cause of house fires, and you need to take issues with your furnace seriously to protect those residing in your home.

Are Heater Smells Normal?

Some smells from your furnace are normal, but others could signal a serious problem. When your furnace smells like it’s burning, you can consider these points as you troubleshoot:

  • Is it the first time you’ve turned your heater on for the winter? The dust that may have settled in your system over the course of the year may be stirred up when you first turn on your equipment. As the dust burns off, the smell should dissipate quickly.
  • Is your filter clean? Start the heating season with a brand new filter, and change your filter as needed throughout the winter. A clogged filter can allow additional dust to move through your furnace, leading to an intermittent burning smell. If this is the issue, then a clean filter should eliminate the occurrence of such smells.
  • Does the furnace have proper clearance? Is there a toy, stray piece of clothing or other flammable material near the unit? If something gets too close, it could become hot, posing the risk of a fire. Make a point of conducting regular safety inspections of such equipment.

If your furnace smells like gas, the issue is more likely related to the fuel supply. You may have a gas leak, and you need to contact your utility provider for directions and assistance.

Avoiding Burning Smells Through Preventive Maintenance

While the dust in your system may burn off, a residue can be left behind, affecting the performance of your equipment. It’s wise to schedule a system inspection each fall so that your unit can be thoroughly cleaned ahead of the need to operate it. This may reduce the potential for burning smells in your home, and it will also ensure that all critical safety components of your furnace are tested. Advance awareness of worn parts makes it possible for you to have them replaced so that you don’t experience an inconvenient system failure during the winter months. Additionally, your technician can discuss issues like carbon monoxide poisoning. A CO monitor is an important consideration in any home that operates a gas furnace as the odorless gas can be deadly if levels become too high.

When to Call a Professional

If your furnace smells like it’s burning and you can’t pinpoint the source of the problem, it’s wise to request a service call right away. A technician from Luquire can inspect your equipment and check for problems with heat exchangers, burners and other parts. We are available on a 24-hour basis for heating emergencies as well. Contact our Millbrook, AL, office for an appointment.

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