Burning smell after firing up your furnace? Find out what odors are normal and when to get expert help.

What’s causing a burning smell from your heater?

As we approach colder months and temperatures begin to drop, many homeowners are getting ready to turn on their heaters for the season. But, when you change the temperature on your thermostat expecting it to warm up your house, the last thing you want to be met with is an unpleasant burning smell.

If you have found yourself in this situation, don’t panic! While some odors could be a sign of a potentially dangerous issue that requires calling an HVAC professional right away, other unwanted smells are common. Here, we’re breaking down what might be causing your heater to smell like it’s burning, and what you can do to safely handle each situation

Burning Smells

Burning smells that may come from your furnace include an oily smell, rotten eggs, or a moldy/musty smell. If you have an oil furnace, that oily smell could indicate an oil leak, burner issues or even a heat exchanger failure. A rotten egg smell likely indicates a potential gas leak which needs to be addressed immediately. A musty/moldy smell could indicate mold or mildew growth in your ductwork or in your furnace-mounted cooling coil (evaporator coil).

Can you avoid a burning smell from your heater?

The best way to avoid unwanted heater smells is to schedule regular maintenance/tune-ups on your unit with an HVAC professional. Furnace maintenance should happen at least once a year, sometimes twice for certain types of units. When a technician comes for a regular maintenance visit, they’ll be able to clean off your furnace, which will help prevent burning smells resulting from dust buildup, as well as inspect your unit for any kind of serious electrical issues.

Plus, keeping up with regular maintenance you can do yourself, like changing your filters every three months, will help keep your unit running smoothly and keep your home free of unwanted smells. While regular maintenance isn’t a foolproof way of avoiding a burning smell from your heater, it’s the best thing you can do to avoid running into this problem every winter when you turn up the heat on your thermostat. Call Choate’s and schedule your heating maintenance today!

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