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Nov 09 2017

When My Heat Turns on, There Is a Bad Odor. What Could Be Wrong?


When you turn on your heating and air conditioning system this winter, you may notice a slight smell, often one of burning. This is normal, especially if your furnace hasn't run for many months. This initial, slight burning smell is the result of dust that collected in the heating elements over the past year. But it should go away relatively quickly. If it doesn't, gets worse or you notice a different odor, this could be a sign that something's wrong. Here are some of the possibilities to consider:

Dirty Air Filter

If you haven't been cleaning or changing your HVAC's air filter regularly, a foul smell from your heater could very well be a sign the filter needs changing. There may be contaminants trapped in the filter which add an unpleasant scent.

Mold Growth in Your Ductwork

If you notice a musty smell whenever your HVAC is on, even with the air conditioner, there could be mold in your system. It might be in your air handler or air filter, but it could very well be in your ductwork. To get rid of this smell, you'll need to clean out the mold from the ductwork and figure out what caused it to prevent the mold from coming back.

Electrical Problem

If the burning smell is strong or won't go away, it could be a sign that an electrical component has burned out or is in the process of burning. An electrical problem will usually smell like burning rubber or plastic.

Blocked Exhaust Chimney

If the bad smell mimics smoke, this could be a sign of a serious problem where your furnace's exhaust has a blockage. If this is the case, turn off your heater and call an HVAC technician immediately.

If you have concerns about the smell coming out of your vents when using your heating and air conditioning system, you should contact Comfort Services. We will inspect your HVAC system and figure out what's going wrong.

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