Why a Heater Smells Like Its Burning When Turned On

Furnace Repair in Farmingdale, NY

As winter approaches and temperatures start to decline, you will probably turn on your heater for the first time in an extended period. Although the feeling of warm air is exhilarating, it’s sometimes followed by an unpleasant or strange burning smell. This doesn’t imply you should contact the fire department, but don’t ignore the odor, either. Some smells are expected while others indicate a potential problem.

Read on to learn about the different types of odors that occur, what they indicate, and whether you need to take prompt action.

Should The Heating System Smell as if It’s Burning?

The answer to this question is sometimes no and sometimes yes. For example, if you switch on your furnace for the first time this year and smell burning dust, that’s normal. It means there’s dust in your heater, and the smell will fade away quickly. On the other hand, if you notice an electrical burning odor, that’s not normal. It might be a sign of a critical electrical issue that can result in a fire.

As a rule of thumb, if you notice your heater smells like it’s burning for an extended period, it might be an indication your furnace needs professional maintenance. It’s probably something that’ll not go away if left unaddressed.

Types of Smells

Identifying the smell can help you understand if you’re experiencing a minor issue or need to call B.A.C Systems Inc. to perform some repairs. Here are the common types of burning odors that can emanate from your heating system.

Burning Dust Smell

When you don’t use your heater for extended periods, dust can accumulate on the heat exchangers, burners, air ducts, and other parts of your heater. When you turn on the heater, this dust can burn off, producing a smoky smell. It’s normal for the dust to burn off when you use the heater for the first time in the heating season, so you should not panic. However, if this smell doesn’t fade away or gets stronger, consider changing the air filter. If the odor persists even after you have changed the filter, turn your heater off and call B.A.C Systems Inc. to perform emergency maintenance.

Musty Smell

Your furnace can also produce musty smells upon startup, mainly if it uses the same air handler as the split AC system. Musty odors usually emanate from damp and dark environments, particularly after extended periods of inactivity. Clogged or unreplaced air filters can make your furnace smell musty. Like the burnt dust smell, running your unit for some cycles will eliminate the musty smells. If the odor doesn’t go away or becomes persistent as time goes by, then you could be experiencing mold or mildew. Call an HVAC specialist to professionally inspect and clean your heater.

Electrical Burning Smell

If you notice an electrical burning smell coming from your heater, it might be a foreign object in your system’s ductwork, such as a kid’s toy, which produces a smell when the heating starts. Remove the registers and inspect them to clean or get rid of any foreign matter. An electrical burning smell could also indicate a severe problem, like a broken heat exchanger. If you cannot find any foreign object in your HVAC system’s ductwork, call a seasoned technician from B.A.C Systems Inc. to inspect the electrical components of your heater.

Smoky or Oily Smell

A smoky or oily smell commonly occurs in homes with heaters that use oil as fuel. A smoky or oily smell could indicate a leak or clogged filter, which can cause a hazardous flue fire. If this smell doesn’t go away even after checking and changing the oil filter, have an HVAC specialist inspect your heater.

Causes of a Burning Odor From Your Heating Unit

There are some likely culprits that could be causing an unusual odor to permeate your home when you turn on your heater. Although you should always call in an HVAC specialist to address significant problems with your heating system, in some cases, you can do your troubleshooting to identify the source of the smell.

Some of the major causes include:

  • Dust on the heater
  • Dirty air vents or furnace filters
  • Damaged electrical wiring
  • Overheated fans
  • Failing belts
  • Blown motors

How B.A.C Systems Inc. Can Help

Unusual smells coming from your heating system can indicate several significant problems, most of which need the services of professionals at B.A.C Systems Inc. If you are a commercial or residential property owner living in Farmingdale, NY, and nearby areas, you can trust our lasting HVAC installation, repair, and maintenance services. Our team has the required training and equipment to address all your heating and cooling problems. Call us today!

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