Why Does My Furnace Smell?

Technician using vacuum to clean dust from inside of furnace

Like any appliance, your furnace requires routine maintenance and cleaning in order to operate efficiently. It’s not uncommon to notice the smell of burning dust emitting from your furnace or heater at the beginning of the heating season. This is typically an indication of a unit in need of cleaning. But some furnace burning smells may be warning signs of a larger, more dangerous problem. If you ever smell an odor of gas, burning plastic, or sulfur, immediately contact an Aire Serv HVAC professional for assistance. ; ;

My Furnace Smells “Funny”

Strange smells around your furnace often spread throughout your home when the heating system pushes warm air. Common weird smells from furnaces are burning dust, mustiness, rotten eggs, and burning plastic.

You may be smelling burning dust. Dust, pollen, and mold can collect on your heating system and in the ducts. You might smell burning dust when you turn on the heat after not using it in a while. While it's not as bad as other smells, the dust particles can affect the air you breathe. Cleaning your furnace, using air filters, and cleaning the ducts every few years can significantly improve your air quality.

A musty smell could mean a few things, like a clogged drain, a dirty humidifier filter, or mold growing in your heating system. Mold can be bad for the health of all occupants, including pets. If you think there's mold, contact a mold remediation professional to clean it up.

If you smell sulfur, which has a scent reminiscent of rotten eggs, it might be the result of a gas leak. Gas companies ensure there is an oil smell from the furnace so leaks are easier to notice.

A new furnace smell may give off odors of burning plastic at first, but an old one shouldn't. This could mean your system is overheating or parts are not operating properly. Call a heating service to check and fix any issues.

Is It Normal to Smell Gas Near a Furnace?

Foul smells from furnaces can be a big problem. Gas leaks are very unsafe and need to be addressed quickly. If you think your home has a gas leak, turn off all gas appliances. Get all humans and pets outside and a safe distance away from the home while you leave doors and windows open. Then, call 911. Your local utility company will stop the flow of gas to your home and check the line for any leaks. When it's safe, get an HVAC professional out to inspect your unit. Your local Aire Serv® team can help with regular maintenance and emergencies to ensure the system that heats and cools your home and/or business continues to operate safely and efficiently.

My Furnace Smells Musty: What’s Next?

Strange or odd smells from your heating system, like an oil smell from the furnace, are signals of possible danger. When you notice these smells, it's not the time to try fixing things yourself. To keep you and your family safe, quickly contact a qualified expert to check and fix the issue.

Is It Normal for a New Furnace to Smell?

No need to worry. If you've just put in a new furnace, it might produce a furnace-burning smell the first few times you turn it on. This smell comes from the special oil coating on the new heating part. Don't be concerned, though. This smell will go away after about an hour or so of use. If the new furnace smell doesn't go away even after a day, it's a good idea to talk to your HVAC expert to ensure things are working properly. They'll know what to do.

However, if you smell anything out of the ordinary, don't wait. Contact your HVAC specialist immediately. Whether you have a new or old furnace, it’s always a good idea to schedule routine maintenance. It’s a great way to prevent small issues from becoming bigger problems. You can rest easy knowing your system is in good hands, with service that’s backed by the Neighborly Done Right Promise™, which ensures your satisfaction. To get started, request an appointment online with Aire Serv today! ;