Why Does My Heater Have a Burning Smell?

By April 5, 2019 April 2nd, 2024 Heating
heater burning-smell hvac maintenance st louis

Starting up your furnace again, either because you’ve been on vacation or the weather has suddenly turned colder, can come with unexpected outcomes such as noticing your heater blows cold air or your furnace won’t stay on.

However, another common problem homeowners often experience once they turn on their heater is a furnace that emits a burning smell.

There are many reasons your furnace may have a burning smell come through the vents after you have turned it on. Knowing when the problem is minor and will go away on its own versus a significant issue is important so you can know when to call an experienced HVAC technician to fix your furnace.

Types of Burning Smells a Furnace Might Emit

Electric Smell from Furnace

If your furnace is emitting an electric smell, it could be cause for alarm or may be a minor issue that can resolve easily. Doing some troubleshooting upfront can alleviate your concerns, so be sure to check for some common causes of an electrical smell coming from your furnace.

Some causes of an electrical smell coming from your vents include:

  • Spill Near the Registers – If liquid or food spilled near a vent, the resulting smell may be electrical in nature. Cleaning up that spill may resolve your issue, so if you check all of your vents and notice a spill, take care of it right away!
  • Object Stuck in Ventilation – If you have children or pets, toys and other objects may get stuck in vents. If the air heats them up and melts the plastic or other materials the toy is made of, then an electrical smell may occur. Use a flashlight and inspect your vents to ensure nothing has gotten stuck in them recently that you may have been unaware made it in a space it isn’t intended to go.
  • Air Trapped in Closed Vents – Although it might seem obvious, the trapped air from a vent may give off a light electrical odor. Opening vents as your system is running can keep it from staying in the enclosed space for too long.

If you have checked for spills and objects in the ventilation, and your vents are not closed but the electrical smell is still present, it may be time to talk to a professional HVAC technician.

Dirty, Dusty, Musty Smells

Some smells coming from your HVAC system will not smell electrical. Instead, they may indicate other issues that can be innocuous or serious, depending on what they are. We examine these below.

  • Dirty/Dusty Smell – If you have not had your heater on for some time, turning it on may produce a dirty or dusty smell. This may burn off after a while, and you could fix the issue by changing the air filter as well.
  • Musty/Damp Smell – Another smell you might encounter could be a damp smell or a musty smell. This may occur due to humidity in summer months leading to excess water when it’s cooler, or the smell could be coming from the humidifier. Checking the filters and replacing them will help, or you can contact a technician and set up a maintenance plan.

How an HVAC Technician Can Help with Furnace Problems

If you have concerns about the smells coming from your furnace, a well-trained HVAC technician can help! Most skilled technicians can troubleshoot furnace problems and recommend repairing your furnace or installing a new HVAC system if the problem is severe enough.

Likewise, if your HVAC problem is simply that it needs some cleaning, a furnace maintenance plan may be a good fit! The only way you can really know is to get in touch with an HVAC company that can meet your needs.

Contact a Furnace Repair Technician in St. Louis

If you are experiencing strange smells coming from your vents, contact Design Aire today and schedule an appointment with an experienced technician!