Why Is There a Burning Smell Coming From My Heater?

man covering his nose in his home

So you’ve finally turned on your heat in your home but you notice a burning smell. While some smells might not be as serious as others, you should always take note and pay attention to your system. It could be a warning sign of a bigger issue.

Common causes of a burning smell when you turn on the heat include:

  • Dust and/or clogged air filter
  • Failing belts
  • Blown motors
  • Overheated fans

Types Burning Smells Coming from the Heater

We’ll explain the different types of odd smells coming from your heater, furnace, and vents and how to handle them.

Dusty Odor

Smelling dust from your heater is typically normal, especially if it’s the first time you’re turning on the heat for the season. It’s a fact that dust accumulates everywhere in our homes. However, if the smell does not subside after it’s best to call in a heating professional to inspect your system and determine the problem.

In addition to dust, your air filter could be the culprit. When your air filter becomes clogged with dirt and debris, your heating system has to work overtime to compensate. This can cause a burning smell due to overheating and excess dust in the unit. Make sure you change your filter regularly to avoid an overheated system.

Burning Plastic

A burning plastic odor likely indicates the need for repairs. It could mean that something has infiltrated your system. Turn off your heater to avoid further damage and to avoid breathing in harsh fumes.

Electrical Smell

A metallic or electric smell coming from your heater is something you should not ignore. Most units have safety features that shut off the unit when it overheats. If you notice an electric smell, it could be a sign of an overheated motor blower which could result in further damage. Turn off the furnace and call an HVAC company to repair it.

Gunpowder Smell

A failed circuit board is likely the culprit if you smell a distinctive gunpowder odor. Do not ignore this smell—turn off the system and contact a professional HVAC technician right away.

Oily/Smoky Smell

This usually only occurs in homes that use oil as a heating source. An oily smell could be the sign of a leak or a clogged filter—but you should never smell fuel inside your home! Like with other abnormal smells coming from your heating system, shut it down immediately, and seek professional assistance.

Heating Services in Pittsburgh

It’s important to maintain your system through heating tune-ups each year to ensure you’re not stuck without heat on a freezing Pittsburgh night. And if you notice odd smells—give us a call and we’ll assist you with your heating system.

One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning of Pittsburgh is here for you to maintain and install heating systems to keep you comfortable. We are available 24/7 to better serve you. Contact us today for expert heating repair and installation.