Homes rely heavily on furnaces especially during the brutally cold winter season. Having a furnace that keeps you, your home and everything in it warm throughout the season is indeed a Godsend. However, when your furnace starts sending out warm air coupled with a stench that’s not only a distraction but also a risk to your health, you may require furnace service. Getting this problem fixed could be as simple as getting your filters changed or as major as needing the help of an HVAC expert to address the concern. Either way, a smelly furnace could be caused by the following culprits.
The smell of burning dust coming from the furnace is usually inevitable especially if the heater is fired up for the first time after the summer season. The smell emanating from the vents is just normal considering that there might have been a considerable amount of dust and dirt that accumulated in the furnace while it was not utilized. You can avoid getting this smell by making a thorough clean up of the heating system including all the duct work before you fire it up for the heating season. Even after a cleanup, expect a minor smell coming from the vents but it should go away after the furnace runs for a couple of times. In case the smell does not go away, it is advisable to contact an HVAC service professional to take a look at the unit for possible electrical system failure.
Debris or Even Dead Animals in the Ducts
There are so many things that could settle and build up in your ducts and vents. If your furnace starts smelling anytime after it has been working or smelling fine for a while, your furnace may be purging out some of these build up that is causing the slight stench. The buildup could come from carpet fibers, hair, pet dander, human skin, and all the other things that could get stuck in the registers and vents of your home. These are the common debris that cause a slight scent from your furnace. However, there are rare instances when the smell is more profound because it is coming from a dead rodent or a dead bird found somewhere in your heating system. This could be easily diagnosed as the smell it brings about is something that is easily recognizable. Unfortunately, a dead rodent stuck in your vents will require the skillful hands of an HVAC service personnel to take the ductwork apart and successfully take out the dead animal in the vent.
Another culprit behind a smelly furnace is mold. The smell of mold is very distinct and familiar to most homeowners so it is easy to detect the cause of the smell. The scent of mold coming through the vents may be a sign that the vents or ducts may have been exposed to moisture through a crack or an opening in the duct. The musty smell could also be coming from the utility room where the furnace is set up. This can be fixed by running a dehumidifier in the utility room to take out some of the moisture and balance the humidity in the room. The stench could also be coming from the room itself where heat is being distributed. Any mold buildup on the floor or the walls could be spread by the furnace as it distributes heated air throughout the home.
One dangerous reason for your furnace to smell is due to some broken electrical components. The burning smell coming from the motor, fan, or other electrical wirings should never be ignored and should immediately be addressed. It is important to turn off the furnace and call an Edmonton repair personnel as soon as you smell a scent of burning plastic or any smell similar to a curling iron heating up emanating from your furnace. Electrical problems can easily result in a structure fire that will cost you a whole lot more than just replacing burnt circuits and wires. It is important to act fast and call the experts the soonest time possible to avoid further damages to your home and your property.
Oil Filter is Clogged
If you are using an oil-burning unit, it is normal to get a whiff of oil together with the warm air your heating unit distributes throughout the home. As we all know, the furnace is powered by oil and that oil has to be filtered out before it gets used by the unit. When the oil filter gets clogged for whatever reason, there will always be a strong oil smell every time the furnace kicks in. There are several reasons why an oil filter gets clogged: 1) over time, the filter may have already run its course and is up for replacement; 2) when the oil used is dirty, it leaves all kinds of sediments on the filter causing it to clog; 3) a faulty component is simply hindering the oil from passing through the filter. Whatever the reason for the clogged filter may be, it could be best diagnosed by an HVAC expert who can also give an accurate reason behind the stench you get from your heating system.
The smell of a burning plastic due to some electrical problems isn’t the only dangerous smell you can ever have from your furnace. Gas is odorless by nature; however, fuel companies puts in the artificial scent (the rotten egg scent) so that homeowners can easily detect any sign of a gas leak. If you sense a rotten egg smell coming from your furnace, this is an indication of a gas leak and should immediately warn you to get on your feet and stay out of the house while you call for help. Do not attempt to do anything else or call for help while inside the house as you will be putting your health at risk by exposing yourself to gas. The first sign of gas leak should tell you to immediately evacuate the house and then call the local fire department for assistance. Gas leak is one of the most dangerous issues you can encounter from gas furnaces.
A furnace should be able to provide you warm and at the same time breathable air. Having a smelly furnace usually indicates that something is not right in your heating system. Although some minor smells are inevitable, the rest could mean something more serious than just an annoying stench. As always, it is recommended that you seek help from the furnace service experts to ensure that the issue is resolved properly and that your health and your home are not compromised for the sake of having warm air.