One of the most dangerous scents associated with a furnace is one of a rotten egg smell, indicating a natural gas leak.
On those cold winters when residents are stuck inside the home for a better part of five months, it is important to have a furnace that works properly. The furnace basically represents your lifeblood as it keeps you warm and helps to ensure that the items in your home (e.g., electronics, appliances, etc.) are at a temperature where they won’t incur damage. Of course there are times where the necessary evil of running your furnace causes health issues, mainly when the filter hasn’t been changed but also when the warm air smells. Furnace service is almost always needed when the warm Woodstock Heating & Air coming from the vents emits a foul odor. There are times when the fix is easy but these are the most likely culprits.
It is inevitable, that when you first start your furnace for the winter, there will be a smell emanating from the vents. This is quite normal because it’s all the dust and debris that collected over the Summer burning off and basically cleaning itself. That smell is everything from dust and dirt smoking right from the burner to debris in the actual duct work. If a homeowner really wants to avoid this initial stench they can clean the furnace unit extensively before firing it up for the Winter. There might still be a minor smell but nothing too catastrophic. Also, this smell usually goes away after two to four times running the furnace but if it doesn’t, call a local furnace contractor because it may be a sign of underlying problems with the electrical system.
Debris or Worse in the Ducts
If the furnace smell comes at a time other than when it first starts up for the year, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a major problem yet. For instance, if you had remodeling done to the house the sawdust and construction debris may have settled in the vents and is now being purged out by the furnace creating a slight scent. There are a number of things that build up in the ducts and vents from human skin, pet dander, cooking grease sediment, carpet fibers, and hair that eventually get burned off by the furnace. Although these common forms of debris put off a subtle scent, something more profound could be caused by a dead bird or rodent cooking somewhere in your furnace system. This is a rare occurrence but also one that is very easy to diagnose – the smell is unforgettable. Unfortunately, furnace service may be needed to take apart ductwork and remove the expired animal.
Mold in the Room
Another distinct smell that can be easily familiarized is the scent of mold and must coming through the vents. There could be mold within the ducts themselves if they were exposed to moisture through an opening in the duct. The musty scent could also be being pulled from the utility room where the furnace is installed. If possible run a dehumidifier in this room to take away some of the moisture. The smell could also be originating from the actual room where the heat is being distributed. If there is a mold buildup on the vents or near the floors or walls where the register sits the furnace could be disrupting it and causing the spores to spread and the irritation to begin.
Broken Electrical Components
A distinct burning smell that occurs well into the heating season could be a dangerous sign of some electrical problems. Electrical wiring powers the motors, blowers, and fans in the furnace and can experience malfunction just like other components. These burning smells shouldn’t be ignored because they can very easily result in a structure fire and a massive loss. If you smell something similar to a curling iron heating up or the scent of burnt plastic turn off the unit and call a local furnace professional immediately. The burned out wiring smells are transmitted through the duct work and by the time they reach the homeowner it’s likely too late and the parts are damaged. These circuits and wires are much easier to replace than a home and its priceless keepsakes.
Clogged Oil Filter
It’s very common to catch whiffs from your furnace if it is an oil-burning unit. The oil that powers the furnace needs to be filtered out and when the unit that does that gets clogged it will emit a strong oil smell throughout the house. This filter needs to be changed out when the oil smell appears every time the furnace kicks in. There are a number of causes where an oil filter would get clogged; first off over time the piece simply needs to be replaced. Other issues could be dirty oil causing sediment to clog it, or a damaged unit not allowing the oil to pass. A furnace technician can give you an exact diagnosis on why the filter is becoming clogged and spreading an odor through your home.
One of the most dangerous scents associated with a furnace is one of a rotten egg smell, indicating a natural gas leak. The gas itself is odorless so the fuel company puts in an artificial scent to alert homeowners of its presence. Gas furnaces always carry with them a faint burning smell but a predominant odor is a sure sign of trouble. In situations like this the first order shouldn’t even be to call for furnace service, it should be to evacuate the house and to notify the local fire department.
In most cases homeowners shouldn’t have to sacrifice covering up their noses just to be warm from a furnace. In heating units some smells are inevitable but some could be the sign of something more serious, kind of like owning a pet.