Why Does My Furnace Smell like It's Burning?

Man sitting next to a fire to stay warm.

No one wants to experience a burning smell in the home. It can be very alarming. This is especially true if you have just switched on your furnace. It is important to remember that the timing and duration of when you first noticed the smell is important so that you will be able to determine the seriousness of the situation. You should also pay attention to any other unusual smells that are coming from your heating system. However, because heating complications are the second most common cause of house fires, you should pay close attention to any strange burning smells coming from your system.

Are Smells Normal?

Some smells emanating from your furnace are perfectly normal. You need to be able to tell the difference, though, so that you can tell when there is a problem. If your furnace smells like it is burning, you need to consider these troubleshooting points.

Has your furnace been off long-term?

Generally, the first time that you turn on your system for winter, you will smell a strange burning odor as the system attempts to burn off accumulated dust from months of non-use. If this is the cause of the smell, then the smell will disappear shortly after turning on your system.

Have filters been cleaned properly?

The heating season should be started off with clean filters. Remember that these filters should then be cleaned regularly throughout the winter. Clogged filters will accumulate additional dust and not allow air to move freely through your system.

Does the furnace have proper clearance?

If an object, such as a toy or clothing, is too near the unit, it could become hot and begin to emit a smell. This is a definite fire hazard and should be dealt with immediately.

If your system is emitting a smell that seems to be more like gas, then there could be a fuel supply issue. This could indicate a gas leak, and your fuel supplier should be notified as soon as possible.

Preventive Maintenance for Smells

The best way to keep strange smells from emanating from your system is to keep up with regular system maintenance. When your system is regularly checked for issues, you can avoid problems before they become serious. Dust might burn off, but the remaining residue left behind will need to be dealt with by a professional technician.

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