Why Your Furnace Has a Strange Smell

As the weather turns cold and you transition from cooling to heating your home, you might be worried about unusual furnace smells floating in the air. Learn what the most common furnace smells could suggest and how proactive you should be about them.

The Furnace Smells Musty

Musty furnace odors usually suggest mold growth somewhere in the HVAC system. To avoid exposing your family to mold and mildew spores, handle this problem as soon as possible.

A clogged air filter can harbor mold, so eliminating the smell can be as easy as getting a new filter. If that fails to remove the smell, the AC evaporator coil fastened near the furnace could be the root of the problem. This component accumulates condensation, which will sometimes induce mold growth. You’ll need a professional’s help to inspect and clean the evaporator coil. When the problem still won't go away, start thinking about scheduling air duct cleaning. This service eliminates hidden mold, no matter where it's hiding in your ventilation.

The Furnace Smells Like Rotting Eggs

This is one of the most concerning furnace smells since it probably suggests a gas leak. The utility company puts in a particular substance known as mercaptan to the natural gas supply to make leaks easier to notice.

If you recognize a rotten egg smell around your furnace or out of your air ducts, shut off the heater immediately. If you can find where the main gas supply valve is, shut that off also. Then, leave the house and dial 911, as well as your gas company. Don’t enter the house until a professional can verify it’s safe.

The Furnace Has a Sour Stench

If you notice a sour smell that stings your nose while close to the furnace, this might mean the heat exchanger is cracked. This essential component houses combustion fumes, including carbon monoxide, so a cracked heat exchanger could spew unsafe levels of CO gas into your home.

Carbon monoxide poisoning has the potential to be deadly, so turn off your furnace immediately if you notice a sour odor. Then, reach out to an HVAC professional for an inspection. Consider replacing your furnace if a cracked heat exchanger is responsible. For your continued safety going forward, make sure you have reliable CO detectors on each floor of your home.

The Furnace Smells Dusty

When you start the furnace for the first time after a while, you can expect a dusty odor to show up for a little while. This is the smell of six months’ worth of dust burning away as the furnace wakes up. As long as the smell disperses within 24 hours, you don't have anything to worry about.

The Furnace Has a Smoky Smell

Natural gas, oil and propane furnaces are combustion appliances, so they vent fumes to the exterior. A smoky smell could mean the flue is backed up, and now fumes are flowing back into your home. The odor can reach through the entire house, risking your family’s health if you ignore it. So turn off the furnace and contact a professional as soon as you can to request furnace repair.

The Furnace Smells Like It's Burning Plastic

Overheating and melting electrical components are the most plausible reason for a burning plastic smell to come from your furnace. A malfunctioning fan motor is also possible. If you don’t tackle the problem, an electrical fire may start, or your furnace could experience irreparable damage. Shut off the heating system as soon as possible and contact an HVAC technician for help identifying and repairing this unusual furnace smell.

The Furnace Has an Oily Smell

If you own an oil furnace, you may detect this odor when the oil filter becomes clogged. Try replacing it to see if that resolves the problem. If the smell lingers for more than one day after carrying out this step, it might suggest an oil leak. You should get help from an HVAC expert to fix this problem.

The Furnace Smells Like Sewer Odors

Sewer gas smells very similar to spoiled eggs, so first eliminate the likelihood of a natural gas leak. If that’s not the issue, your home's sewer lines could have an issue, for example a dry trap or sewer leak. Flush water down all your drains, including the basement floor drain, to replenish dry sewer traps. If the smell persists, go ahead and contact a sewer line repair company.

Contact Winnipeg Supply Service Experts for Furnace Repair

If you're still uncertain, contact an HVAC technician to assess and repair your furnace. At Winnipeg Supply Service Experts, we offer thorough diagnostic services to identify the problem before repairs begin. Then, we suggest the most viable, cost-effective repairs, along with an up-front estimate for each option. Our ACE-certified technicians can handle just about any heating malfunction, and we back our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee for one year. For details about why your furnace smells bad or to request furnace repair near you, please contact your local Winnipeg Supply Service Experts office today.

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