Furnaces are designed for long-term use and intended to provide years of safe, clean, and quiet operation. However, if something goes wrong, it is important to diagnose the issue as soon as possible to begin repairs. You don’t want to be caught in the cold come winter.
Luckily, HVAC systems provide handy clues when something is amiss. If your furnace smells like burning plastic or some other unusual smell, that is a sign of an impending failure or serious safety issue. These smells are unsavory, but they could help you save your furnace and prevent damages to your home or personal safety.
When looking to pinpoint an issue with your HVAC system, put your nose on the case.
These are the 3 funky furnace smells you should NEVER ignore:
1. Metallic, Electrical, or Rubber Smells
If your furnace smells like burning rubber or hot metal, it is likely that the inside components of your HVAC system are overheating. The fumes coming from your furnace sometimes indicate that the rubber or metal parts are actually burning due to old age or general wear and tear.
If your furnace does not shut itself off from the heat, you will need to shut if off immediately and unplug it. Next, call your HVAC source for inspection and repair. Any burnt parts will need to be replaced. Luckily, this is typically a minor, inexpensive repair.
Once fixed, monitor the furnace for a few days to make sure the new system is running smoothly.
2. Burning or Dusty Smell
The smell of burning dust is the most common furnace smell, and it’s usually not a sign that anything is wrong. Especially at the start of winter, your furnace smells like burning dust because it is burning away the dirt that accumulated over the course of the year. This smell usually goes away in a few hours.
If the smell doesn’t go away, there is an easy DIY fix you can do before calling in the professionals: change the air filter. Even if you changed it recently, it never hurts to replace it.(Insider Tip: Remember to set a routine for changing the air filter each year.)
If the smell persists, call your HVAC technician. There could be an issue with the unit, or it just might need a deep cleaning.
3. Rotten Egg Smell
This smell is the easiest to identify, but it is also the most serious. Gas companies purposefully add this sulfuric (egg) scent to gas so homeowners can quickly identify if there is a gas leak. Gas leaks are extremely dangerous. They can cause a house fire or explosion.
If you are able, turn off the furnace immediately and open windows to allow air flow. Then evacuate your house. (Evacuate even if you are unable to reach the furnace to turn it off. Your safety is priority.) Once you are in a safe location, call the gas company and fire department.
Gas leaks are cause for serious alarm, and it is imperative that you take immediate action.
Take good care of your HVAC system with routine repairs, and you are less likely to need an expensive replacement down the road. Follow your nose, and you can catch issues before they run amuck.
For more information on odd-smelling furnaces and HVAC system repairs, contact the professionals at Sedgwick Heating & Cooling today.