Keeping a warm and comfortable living space is a homeowner’s priority this cold season. Are you ready to turn on the heat for the first time in months? Make sure your senses are tuned in to anything that may be amiss. For many Georgia homeowners, that could be the noticeable burning smell from the furnace when it was turned on. Is this normal, or should you be worried about it? The top residential and commercial HVAC company in the area, Acker Heating & Cooling, shares what you need to know and do.
Is the Burning Smell Normal?
Here’s the good news — the burning smell emitted by the furnace when it was turned on doesn’t always spell trouble. What happens is that dust and debris can build up inside your heating system when it doesn’t see much use during the summer months. In particular, key components like the heat exchanger or burner become prone to this accumulation. But then winter comes, and the heating system gets switched on for the first time. The heat exchanger and burner heats up quickly as they come to life, burning off the dust and debris sticking to their surface. That’s most likely the source of the burning odor.
Like most important equipment, heating systems require proper cleanup and maintenance to ensure their reliable and efficient performance. To prevent any olfactory assaults resulting from burning dust, make sure to clean your heater thoroughly before switching it on for winter. Here’s what you need to do:
- Clear away the dust, dirt, and debris clinging to your furnace using a damp cloth.
- Any debris buildup inside the system can be dealt with using a vacuum.
- Clean or change the air filter of your heating system — it had most likely accumulated dust and dirt during the system’s dormancy. Experts recommend an air filter replacement every 30-90 days.
When Should You Be Worried About the Burning Smell?
Does your newly cleaned furnace still generate a burning smell when you turn it on? Wait a few minutes to see if it subsides or disappears on its own. If the odor remains, the reason may be something else entirely. You’ll notice that burning smells have different characteristics depending on their source. The odor caused by burned-off dust, for example, is distinctive from the smell of burning plastic. It would be a good idea to consult a trusted heating and air conditioning specialist like Acker Heating & Cooling to accurately determine the issue.
- Burning Plastic Smell
There are many possible reasons for this particular odor. Faulty wiring is one, and overheated appliances are another. If it happens to come from your heating system, the most likely cause is an overheated blower motor, which itself may be caused by excess dust buildup or a congested air filter. Keep in mind that this problem isn’t something that homeowners should attempt to fix on their own.
What you can do is turn off the heating system and call a local heating systems expert like Acker Heating & Cooling for a comprehensive inspection. As you wait for them to arrive, turn on the exhaust fans and open the windows to keep your home ventilated. This way, you’ll be less exposed to the fumes emitted by burning plastic, which are not only unpleasant but also come with several health risks.
- Electric Burning Smell
Running appliances like the oven, fridge, toaster, or clothes dryer sometimes produce a slight electrical smell. You’ll need to unplug them immediately or, if necessary, cut off the power at the circuit breaker. If the electric burning smell seems to come from the heating system instead, it may indicate electrical problems, such as an overheated blower. Again, the best thing you can do at this point is to call a reliable HVAC professional to check things out. Avoid running your heater if you suspect it’s faulty. Otherwise, it can result in widespread damage to the system’s most critical components.
Other Odd Smells to Be Wary Of
Your furnace may produce other strange odors as well. A leak in your oil furnace, for example, can result in an acrid, oily smell. Burner issues or heat exchanger failure may also lead to the same thing. If there’s a rotten egg smell inside your home, that may indicate a gas leak — a serious problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. A musty or stale odor should clue you in on the presence of mold and mildew, which may be lurking somewhere in the ductwork or furnace-mounted cooling coil. Still, the only accurate way to pinpoint the cause of any furnace smell is to have Acker Heating & Cooling, a premier heating and air conditioning specialist, perform a thorough checkup.
You won’t even need to worry about any burning smell if you just schedule regular heating inspections and tune-ups with us. This way, we can help you get ahead of anything that might lead to a bigger and more expensive problem down the road. Homeowners and business owners in Madison County know that Acker Heating & Cooling always delivers when it comes to high-quality HVAC services. We are:
- Fully credentialed heating and air conditioning company, ensuring greater customer protection.
- Highly experienced, having been in business since 1994. You can always count on us to provide superior and effective solutions to all your HVAC and indoor air quality needs.
- Committed to providing only quality, manufacturer-approved products, and materials.
- Trained and skilled, using the latest technology and options to complete the job perfectly right the first time.
- Certified by the trusted industry name, Bryant®. If you need a tough, efficient, and well-performing heating and air conditioning system for your Greater Athens home, then you only need to give us a call. We’ll help you explore your available options and decide on the one that best fits your needs.
- Dedicated to delivering customer satisfaction through you-first service and unrivaled workmanship.
Incomparable Heating Services in Greater Athens
Few companies can deliver the same exceptional HVAC service that Acker Heating & Cooling is known for. Whether you need residential heating maintenance or commercial HVAC installation, we’re the only name to call. We proudly serve homeowners in Colbert, GA, and other areas in Madison County. Get in touch with us by calling (706) 425-8774 or filling out this contact form. We’d love to hear from you!