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6 Common Bad Furnace Smells: What They Mean & What To Do

6 Common Bad Furnace Smells: What They Mean & What To Do

This article will cover these six common bad furnace smells:

  • Burning
  • Chemical
  • Rotten Eggs
  • Dirty Socks
  • Metallic or Burning Plastic
  • Urine

But first, we’ll cover a serious furnace problem that probably won’t create any smell at all — but could be deadly.

My Furnace Has A Leak

Signs Of A Carbon Monoxide Leak

In the winter, we spend more time indoors with our heaters running, and if there’s something like a cracked heat exchanger on your furnace, carbon monoxide could be seeping into your air and build up over time. A carbon monoxide leak from your furnace is one of the most dangerous things that can happen- which is why at Compass Heating & Air we recommend every home have a carbon monoxide detector installed.

Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be deadly. If you smell exhaust gas, the pilot light on your furnace is regularly blowing out, there’s increased build up of soot on your chimney vent, or brownish-yellowish stains around your gas appliances could all be signs of a carbon monoxide leak. Additional health symptoms can include dull headaches, weakness, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, chest pain, blurred vision and more. Click here to read more about carbon monoxide poisoning and preventatives from the CDC.

But carbon monoxide is not the only furnace problem- if you turn on your heater and you smell something off, here’s a quick guide to help you identify common problems.

What Different Furnace Smells Mean

Your Furnace May Smell, But What Does The Smell Mean

There are different types of smells that mean different things. Not every smell means there is something terribly wrong with the furnace, but you will want to recognize them and be able to assess them properly.

Furnace Smells Like Burning

If when your heater turns on it smells like something's burning, this is usually due to a dusty furnace and it’s common when you turn on your heat for the first time in the season. Dust particles can build up over the summer months, and the first use in the fall means there’s dust build up inside your furnace.

What To Do

This is mostly an annoyance, and the smell should go away in a day or two. It’s always a good idea to change your filter at the beginning of the season as well and this will help remove extra dust in the air.

Read More: Should I Repair Or Replace My Broken Furnace?

Chemical Smell From Furnace

A chemical smell, like formaldehyde (remember dissecting frogs in school?) is a definite sign of danger and you need to get this looked at right away. Chemical odors can be a sign of a cracked heat exchanger.

What To Do

This component of your system when broken can drastically increase the chance of a fire or of carbon monoxide build up in your home. Call us at Compass Heating and Air right away to get your system checked out immediately. Our number is (630) 504-8688.

Furnace Smells Like Rotten Eggs Or Sulfur

Rotten eggs or sulfur smells can be the sign of a gas leak. Gas companies add sulfur-based compounds to gas so you can smell it. This can be a very dangerous situation that necessitates immediate action.

What To Do

IMMEDIATELY shut down your furnace. Call your gas company to come out and inspect, and call us here at Compass Heating and Air for an inspection of your system.

Furnace Smells Like Dirty Socks

The dirty sock smell is really a mold/mildew smell. This means there may be some buildup of mold, dust and dirt in your system, and is likely due to dirty ductwork in your home. If it’s been really humid, the chances are you have some mold growing in your ductwork.

What to Do

The best thing to do is to call us here at Compass Heating and Air and we can help you by doing a complete air duct cleaning.

Metallic or Burning Plastic Smell

If you smell something like this from your furnace, it could be caused by a part or component in your furnace overheating.

What to Do

This is a sign to turn off your furnace and call us here at Compass Heating and Air for an inspection. If you have a part that is malfunctioning, it will need to be replaced to prevent further damage to your system.

Urine or Pet Smells

This can be caused by pet issues near the floor level vent covers.

What to do

You will need to inspect them all for pet hair and pet waste- and cleaning up any mess near the vents should solve the problem.

Read More: Creating An Energy Efficient Home Design

Heater Repair In Carpentersville, IL

Call us for a Tune Up And Check Up

This is a great time of year to get your furnace checked and have any heater repairs done before the weather gets too cold. Give us a call at Compass Heating and Air and schedule your appointment today to make sure your system is running well and won’t leave you out in the cold this winter!

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  1051 E. Main St., Suite 106  •  East Dundee, IL 60118  | 
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