7 Reasons your Furnace Smells like it's Burning

Now that the weather is getting colder, most people will be turning on their furnaces for the first time in months. While it’s normal to keep the furnace turned up and running all day, you might run into some issues after not using it for a while. One of those problems could be having a burning smell when the heat is on.

If your furnace smells like it’s burning, there is no need to panic; however, finding the source of the burning smell is important. Once you find out what causes it, you can easily correct the issue and enjoy a comfortably warm indoor temperature.

In this post, we will share some information on what can possibly cause your furnace to emit a burning smell. Let’s dive in!


7 Common Causes of Burning Smell from Your Furnace

Before proceeding with enumerating the causes of a burning smell from your furnace, it is important to know that you should turn off your furnace once you notice any smell. Here are some common causes why your furnace smells like it’s burning:


1. Burning Plastic

Burning plastic is a smell that many are familiar with. When you smell burning plastic, it could mean that some foreign object somehow made its way into your heating system. It could be anything, from a toy to a bottle or even from a piece of food packaging. Burning plastic emits fumes into the home that can pose harm to your family’s health. At any given time you notice the smell of burning plastic, turn off your heating and check your floor vents. If the plastic is visible you can easily remove it. If not, contact HVAC professionals as soon as you can.


2. Dust

Dust can be an obvious reason behind that burning smell when the heat is on. Furnaces can accumulate large amounts of dust when unused for a long period of time, settling on several parts of the furnace including its heat exchanger or the burners. When the cold season sets in, there’s a chance that you will immediately smell burning dust. The vents connected to your home’s heating will bring out this burning smell from the furnace and circulate it around your home. There’s no need to worry as the smell will usually dissipate after a couple of minutes.




3. Electrical Burning

Electrical burning will smell fishy before they become serious. Then an acrid or strong and bitter smell that burns in the throat and smells strongly of plastic occurs. Usually, the furnace decreases its power on the slightest signs of overheating. If it doesn’t happen, it means that its safety feature could have issues and the risk of an electrical fire greatly increases. When this happens, it could be dangerous for you and your family, which is why you need to contact HVAC professionals once you smell an electrical burning smell from the furnace to your vents.


4. Clogged Air Filter

Proper furnace maintenance can prevent any burning smell from a furnace. When the air filter is clogged, the blower motor has to be on overdrive that causes it to overheat. A burning smell starts to develop when the motor pushes the air through the clogged filter. Aside from this, a clogged filter may cause the accumulation of dirt, which can also burn and produce an odor. To fix this, all you have to do is replace your air filter.


5. Smell of Burning Oil

For oil furnaces, an oxidized smell of burning oil can spread through the house. When this is the case, you would need to change the oil filter to ensure that your furnace does not overheat. If you have changed it and the smell persists, contact heating professionals to diagnose and repair the issue. Remember to turn off the furnace until all the repairs have been applied, as it could catch fire if it continues to run.


6. Bacteria Build-up

If you notice the smell of dirty socks or a musty smell, it can be caused by a bacteria build-up. This burning smell from the furnace is similar to burning dust, and it can also be due to sudden usage after a long period of time. To get rid of this unpleasant odor, you would need to replace your furnace filter. Mould can also be the reason for this funky smell, which will require your air ducts to be cleaned.


7. Gas Leak

Similar to the smell of sharp, rotten eggs, the burning smell of gas leaks can mean that there is a serious problem. Once you notice this smell, turn off your furnace and call a professional immediately. Open your windows and doors to let clean air enter your house to prevent any serious damage to your health.


Schedule a Maintenance Check-up to Prevent Burning Smell from your Furnace

Now that you’ve learned about the common causes why your furnace emits a burning smell, it is time to be vigilant and schedule a proper furnace check-up from trusted professionals. Napoleon houses knowledgeable heating and cooling experts that can help you fix and remove the burning smell from the furnace. Whether you want your gas furnaces to be maintained or replaced, we can guide you in making the best decision for your home.

If you’re interested in upgrading your living space and bringing odorless warmth during this cold season, check out Napoleon’s collection of gas furnaces and quality parts for your home.