With winter fast approaching, you will soon turn on your furnace. When you turn on your furnace, you may notice that your furnace has a smell like it’s burning. You may immediately think that you need to turn the furnace off and call an HVAC repairman. However, this smell is normal and will happen when you turn your heater on for the first time.
What Causes the Burning Smell?
During the summer months, you’re not going to use your heating system. When the system is not in use, dust and other debris will settle in the equipment. If you have pets, some of the pet hair can get circulated and settled in the system when you run your air conditioner. Even if you keep your home immaculate, dust and debris will build up. When you turn on your furnace, the layer of dust and debris will burn up. This will cause your heater to smell like burning dust. You should just smell this for the first time when you start your heater.
The odor should disappear from your home within one hour and should not keep occurring when the heater is on. If the smell lasts longer and more than a day, you will want to get the system looked at as soon as possible.
Can I Avoid the Burning Smell?
While you can’t avoid the burning smell altogether, there are ways that you can reduce it. The best way to ensure that the burning smell is minimalized is to have yearly furnace maintenance performed on your system. This will include things like cleaning the system’s interior, which will help to minimize dust and other debris.
You will also want to change out your furnace filter. This will help to ensure that dust particles are captured and don’t recirculate. If you have a dirty filter, this will cause dust to sit around, causing an increased burning smell. Furnace filters should be changed at least every three months. If you have a less-than-high-quality filter, you will want to change it monthly. A good idea is to get a washable filter for your furnace that can be washed frequently to ensure adequate airflow. In addition to preventing dust buildup in your unit, a good clean air filter will help to protect the components in your furnace.
When to Be Concerned About a Burning Smell
Smelling a burning smell when you turn your heater on for the first time is completely normal. However, there are times when you smell a burning smell, you will want to address it quickly.
If you smell a burning plastic smell coming from your furnace, this indicates that the furnace has worn-out components. This could be a capacitor or fan belt. A burning plastic smell can also indicate that the wiring insulation inside the furnace is melting.
If you smell an electrical burning smell, it could be something going wrong with your blower motor. Check your air filter and make sure that it’s clean. Often, when the blower motor does not have proper airflow, it will overheat. Replacing the filter can help to fix the problem.
What to Do When You Smell an Abnormal Smell
If you smell an odor that’s not associated with first turning the furnace on, you will want to turn the furnace off immediately. Go to your breaker box and switch off the breaker. If you see any indication of a fire in your furnace, you will want to call 911 quickly. If you don’t see any indication of fire, you will want to call your HVAC technician.
One of our HVAC technicians will be able to come out to see exactly what the problem is. More often than not, the problem is an easy fix, and your furnace will be up and running in no time.
At Central Air Heating, Cooling, and Plumbing, we’re here to help ensure that if your heater has a burning odor, we’ll get it fixed immediately. We offer a maintenance package that will keep your furnace is clean. Our technicians will also help to minimize any odors when you first turn the unit on.
We serve Clackamas, OR, and the surrounding areas. We offer heating and cooling installation and repair, plumbing services, indoor air quality services, and home energy audits. Please give us a call today so that we can help prepare your furnace for the winter.