When you first turn your furnace on for the heating season, you likely will notice an acrid smell. Generally, this is just dust that’s settled on the furnace’s surfaces, burning off once the unit heats up. But any other type of furnace smell could signal a problem. Following is some information about the various types of furnace smells you might encounter.
Persistent Burning Smell
Although as mentioned above, the burning dust smell is normal when you first turn on the furnace, if it doesn’t disappear after a few hours, your furnace may need attention.
A strong, musty, damp odor can be a sign that conditions in your furnace are too damp and mold has taken hold. Mold results when there’s too much moisture in your system, and the spores have colonized either the evaporator coils or the ductwork. Causes may be traced to a dirty air filter, a plugged condensate drain, malfunctioning air handler or a hole in the ducts. If changing the air filter (install a good quality, pleated filter) or checking the drain pan for clogs and proper draining don’t help, then consult an HVAC repair technician.
Rotten Egg Smell
This smell should never be ignored, as it indicates a gas leak. Open doors and windows to vent and evacuate the house with all the home’s occupants, including pets. Don’t light matches or turn on lights. Call an HVAC technician and the gas company.
A chemical odor may indicate a cracked heat exchanger or another type of leak. If you suspect a cracked heat exchanger, call your HVAC company right away, as there is always a possibility that carbon monoxide may be leaking from the system. CO is odorless, tasteless and toxic.
Burning, Metallic Smell
A metallic, burning smell could signal the furnace motor is overheating. Overheating parts may also cause wires to melt and result in an electrical hazard. Turn off the furnace and call an HVAC consultant.
Want to expand your knowledge of what a furnace smell can mean? Contact Aggressive Mechanical Contractors, serving Monmouth County for three generations.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Monmouth County, New Jersey and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).
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