November 26, 2014
Furnace odors are, at the very least, a sign that maintenance of the unit is overdue. While the cause could be something as simple as a filter that needs to be replaced, odors could also be caused by a defective or broken part within your furnace, or a clogged chimney. Many times, when a furnace hasn’t been used for a long time, dust will accumulate in your ductwork and on the heat exchanger. Then, when you turn it on, the burning dust will cause an odor. This smell should go away after an hour or two and is not a sign of a problem.
Whatever the reason for the smell, please don’t ignore it. Failure to address any odd smell emanating from your furnace could eventually result in costly repairs, or quite possibly a replacement of your entire system.
Here are some of the most common types of odors that come from furnaces and what their causes may be:
- Musty furnace smell: This could be caused by mold being trapped in the filter of the furnace, or the filter of your humidifier if one is present. Some furnace models have a humidifier attached to them while others do not. Check your furnace filter once a year and replace it if it becomes clogged. If you have a humidifier, you can clean it by soaking it in a solution of equal parts vinegar and water and then using a clean cloth to gently wipe it clean.
- Burning plastic or electrical smell: There are several potential reasons why you may smell something that seems to be a burning electrical part or burning plastic. Something may have become lodged in your ductwork, or a plastic toy could have been accidentally dropped in the register. Remove your registers and inspect them. These kinds of smells, however, could also occur as the result of a heat exchanger that has cracked or a furnace motor that has overheated. If you see no foreign object of any kind in your ductwork, call a technician as soon as possible.
- Oil or smoke furnace smell: All oil furnaces have oil filters inside of them. If you have this type of furnace and you notice an oil smell when the furnace turns on, then the filter may be clogged and needs to be changed. If you notice a smoky smell then your chimney could be clogged and smoke is coming back into your home through your ductwork as a result. If this is the case, you should call a professional to look at your chimney and remove whatever blockage may exist.
Dealing with furnace odors? Contact Feehan Plumbing today for a solution to your issue!
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