Your furnace is a tough piece of equipment, meant to withstand several months of sustained use. But if you have been running your furnace nonstop this winter, you may possibly start to notice a few odors emanating from it. Many of these smells aren’t really a cause for concern, while others can be dangerous if left unchecked. Luckily, AAA Service Plumbing, Heating & Electric is here to help explain that smell coming from your furnace. Keep reading for what you need to know, and remember that our skilled HVAC techs are available for all your furnace repair, replacement, and maintenance needs.
5 Furnace Odors to Watch Out For
- Sulfur: If there is a sulfuric, rotten egg-like smell coming from your furnace, it’s possible that your system is experiencing a gas leak. While natural gas is an excellent fuel source for furnaces, due to its high combustibility and energy efficiency, a gas leak can pose a major risk to your entire household. Watch out for symptoms including headaches, nausea, dizziness, and confusion, and make sure to get your family out of the house and call a professional ASAP if you detect this smell. Remember to also avoid anything flammable if you pick up on this odor, as a gas leak can also cause a house fire.
- Sweat: A sweaty, dirty sock-like smell, sort of what you would pick up at the gym, may begin wafting out of your furnace if there is excess moisture in your system. This typically happens because someone has been turning the thermostat up and down too much, causing condensation to form on your system’s coils. The good news is that you can usually get rid of this nasty scent by calling an experienced furnace technician for a cleaning.
- Electrical Burning: Most of us have smelled the odor of burning wires before. When your furnace starts to age, and the fan blower begins generating more electricity, you may start to notice this smell coming from your system. This odor is likely the result of sparks damaging your furnace’s wiring or insulation, so it should always be dealt with ASAP. The last thing you want is for your furnace to become a fire hazard.This leads us perfectly into talking about—
- Diesel: If you are picking up on a diesel smell coming from your furnace, similar to what you would smell when filling up your car, you probably have an oil-based system. Like natural gas, oil is a solid furnace fuel, though when you put too much of it in your system, a fog can form, which will burn when it interacts with your furnace’s heating element. This burning can be extremely dangerous for your furnace and larger property, so be careful when refueling your furnace, and call a professional right away if you are smelling it in your home.
- Dust: When your furnace sits in disuse for months at a time, it is naturally going to accumulate some dust. Then, when you fire it back up after a long period of dormancy, the dust and debris in your unit will react with your heating element, leading to that musty odor you may be detecting around your house. Fortunately, you can usually get rid of this odor by simply replacing your furnace’s filter (this should be done annually anyway, to improve your system’s efficiency and strengthen your indoor air quality.) And of course, another great way to prevent dust build-up is simply to schedule regular furnace cleaning and maintenance.