Don’t ignore a burning smell coming from your furnace! There are many different reasons why your furnace might be emitting a worrisome smell. The good news is that the cause is likely very fixable. However, ignoring a burning smell coming from a furnace can put your health and safety at risk. What’s more, ignoring a strange odor coming from your furnace can actually allow the problem to escalate until your furnace is no longer functioning. Here’s everything you need to know if you’re worried about a burning smell coming from your furnace.

What to Do If There’s a Burning Odor Coming From Your Furnace

The first step to take if you notice any kind of peculiar odor coming from your furnace is to turn off your furnace immediately. This will buy you some time to diagnose the underlying cause of the odor. The next step is to determine the source of the odor. Common causes of furnace odors include:

  • Mechanical issues.
  • Leaks.
  • Blockages.
  • Bacteria and mold.

You’ll be able to use a professional diagnosis to correct the issue to ensure that your furnace is running safely and efficiently. There’s no need to feel like you have to diagnose the source of a burning smell coming from your furnace on your own. In fact, trying to tinker with your furnace to do some “detective work” can actually put your home in danger if you’re not familiar with the inner workings of HVAC systems. Always call a team of licensed HVAC professionals to help you diagnose any strange odors with your furnace if you don’t know how to proceed. This can be the fastest way to get to the bottom of the problem!

Why Does My Furnace Have a Burning Smell?

There are many different types of odors that can come from a furnace. The type of smell you’re smelling at your home can be a clue regarding what’s going wrong with your furnace behind the scenes. Take a look at the causes behind common furnace smells.

A Smell of Burnt Toast

There’s nothing appetizing about the smell of burnt toast coming from your furnace room or basement. If you’re smelling burnt toast, there’s a good chance that excess dust is to blame. This odor is actually common when turning on your heat for the first time in the fall. What you actually smell is an accumulation of dust and debris being “burned off” from the ducts, burner, and heat exchanger. The good news is that the smell of burnt toast usually isn’t serious. However, it’s still a good idea to get it checked out.

A Sooty Smell

Have you ever heard of a “puff-back” explosion happening at a home? It’s no joke. In fact, it can render a home unlivable. A soot odor is caused by partial combustions within your furnace. That means that there’s an error with the way your heater is burning gas. It’s important to act quickly because soot will eventually get into your air vents to spew soot all throughout your house. This results in the release of highly poisonous, highly flammable soot throughout your home.

A Smell of Burning Plastic

If you smell plastic burning, there’s a good chance that some type of foreign object is stuck in your heating unit. This can be anything from a piece of plastic packaging to a dog toy. Unfortunately, this can be a pretty serious situation. Plastic that is burning from the heat that’s emitted by your furnace can actually create toxic fumes that will spread through your vents. Turn off your furnace immediately if you smell burning plastic! Getting a professional HVAC team over right away is the smartest option for avoiding a toxic mess in your home.

An “Electrical” Odor

A mechanical odor is often caused by an overheated blower motor. When this happens, the system will shut down. However, compromised safety systems will actually turn on and off continuously until your system becomes overheated. It’s important to get any odors that can be described as “electrical” or “mechanical” checked out immediately to avoid a fire hazard.

A Smoky Smell

What if you’re noticing smoky, toasty odors coming from your furnace? This is often a sign that your heater’s chimney is blocked. Common culprits behind blocked and obstructed chimneys include:

  • Bird nests.
  • Rodent nests.
  • Leaf piles.
  • Twig piles.
  • Dirty ducts.
  • Clogged filters.

You may wonder what to do next if you find that everything is totally free of obstructions or blockages. This is where it’s good to know that a smoky odor can also form if you’ve been closing the vents in your home to try to cut down on energy usage. Unfortunately, this strategy can actually cause hot air to build up in your ducts. Smoky smells are often warning signs that your heater is on the verge of overheating, cracking, or breaking down.

A Gunpowder Smell

If you smell what can be described as a gunpowder odor, the likely cause is an overheating circuit board in your furnace. This is a dangerous scenario that requires you to shut off your furnace as quickly as possible. Don’t switch the furnace back on until you’ve been given the “okay” from a licensed HVAC professional.

A “Hot Oil” Smell

What does an oily odor that’s coming off of your furnace mean? There are actually several different potential causes. However, it’s important to know that the risk of fire is high whenever you smell oil coming from your furnace. There’s a good chance that the cause of an oily smell is actually a clogged, dirty oil filter. Changing your furnace’s oil filter is a great way to avoid an overheating issue. If you’re getting a hot oil smell even though your filter has recently been changed, it’s definitely time to bring in a qualified HVAC professional to get to the root of the problem before a serious accident happens with your home’s heating system.

A Musty Odor

If you’re noticing a musty odor coming from your furnace, it’s time to be on high alert. Musty furnace odors are often caused by bacteria or mold. Unfortunately, a musty odor isn’t just unpleasant. This can actually cause a health hazard in your home because the infected air will travel through your vents. The easiest solution for getting rid of musty furnace odors is to have your furnace filter replaced. However, you will need to have your air ducts cleaned if you’re dealing with a mold problem because the mold has already spread throughout your vents.

Get Help for Furnace Odors in Newark, Delaware

A furnace odor is your furnace’s way of telling you that something is truly rotten to the core with your HVAC system. The good news is that many furnace odor problems can be solved easily with early intervention. However, allowing odors to linger can put your entire household at risk for everything from a house fire to mold exposure. There’s no need to let a furnace odor linger.

Contact Delaware Heating & Air Conditioning Service today. Our team of licensed professionals can inspect, diagnose, and fix common causes of furnace odors. If you have a serious situation going on that requires repairs or replacements, we’ll carefully explain your options to you to help you move forward with restoring the health and safety of your home’s HVAC system. We can also help you to come up with a maintenance plan covering every essential HVAC checklist item that will help you avoid common problems that cause furnace smells. Contact us today for help with strange furnace odors in Newark, Delaware!