Burning Smell from Your Heater Won’t Go Away!

So you’re a homeowner who detected a burning smell from the heater. What do you do? Cold weather means residents everywhere turn up the heat in their homes after six or seven months. Between the lack of use and the fear of setting something on fire, you may be uncertain what is causing that scary scent. Here is everything you need to know about the burning smell coming from your heater.

Should the heater ever smell?

Your heater should run without scent in most cases. A furnace collects air and passes it through a heat exchanger before distributing the air around your home. Unless the house itself smells, the air should be clean and scentless. There are a few exceptions to the rule.

Common causes of smells from the heater.

The most common cause of a smell coming from the heater is dust. Over the summer, dust collects around the heater. If you smell a burning scent when the heater turns on, open a window and turn on a fan. The smell should pass in about an hour.

Check the air filters if the burning dust smell does not go away. Over time, obstructions like dust and fur clog the filters. Dirty filters are a hazard. Replace them if they do not look clean. Pro tip: have extra filters in your storage so replacement is easy.

Another typical smell due to old or dirty filters is mildew and must. Check the humidifier filter for mold and clean it with water and vinegar to remove the dirt. The filter can also be replaced if washing it doesn’t work.

Wire issues and overworked blower motors usually produce a chemical, electrical, or metallic smell. Heaters have an automatic shut-off for problems that are due to being overworked. Before investigating, turn off the heater and let it cool.

The smell of burning plastic requires some investigation. Are there objects obstructing the airflow near the vents? If not, a piece of plastic could be blocking airflow inside the vent. Take a moment to isolate the vents where the scent is coming from. Complete a thorough inspection of the ducts and area around that vent. If you can’t find the issue and the smell persists, turn it off and contact an HVAC technician.

When the heater smells like gunpowder, check the circuit board and fan motor. Do not use the heater until the board and motor are inspected and, if needed, replaced.

When is it an emergency?

Shut the heater off immediately if you smell rotten eggs coming from the heater. Your gas company adds sulfur to gas so it can be detected when it leaks. Gas leaks are dangerous, so call for a service check immediately.

Still trying to figure it out?

If you can’t identify the scent, turn off the heater. Use electric wall heaters to keep warm while waiting for professional help. If you are in the Las Vegas area, give us a call!

Need an Electrician in Henderson, Las Vegas or Boulder City, NV?

Contact us today, and one of our experts will get in touch and help you with all your Electrical related questions.

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