What's That Smell? 4 Strange Furnace Odors And What They Mean

If your furnace stops working, you know it's time to call your local heating and cooling company. However, your furnace might work fine and still be putting your family in serious danger. How can you tell that your furnace needs urgent attention even when it seems to be working fine? One way you can tell is through your sense of smell. If you notice a strange and new smell emanating from your furnace, you should call for an inspection and repair right away. Following are four strange furnace odors and what they mean. 

Rotten Eggs

If you smell rotten eggs whenever your furnace kicks on, you may have a natural gas leak. If you heat with fuel oil, you will smell burning oil when there is a leak. Since leaking oil and gas can cause fire and explosion, it's vital that you get out of your home immediately and call 911. Turning off your furnace won't help! If you have a true gas leak, it will continue to leak even when your furnace is not operating, placing your family in danger. 

Overheated Metal

The smell of overheated metal usually means that a component on your unit is overheating, such as the blower motor. It can also mean that your unit is overheating due to a dirty air filter or that there is an issue with your electrical wiring. If you smell overheated metal, turn off your furnace and call your local HVAC company right away for a thorough inspection. One company to consider contacting is Summers & Smith Heating.

Musty Dampness

If you smell a musty or damp odor when your furnace kicks on, there may be mold or bacteria growing in your furnace and ducts. Since mold and other airborne pollutants can make your family sick, it's vital that you make an appointment to have your unit and ducts cleaned right away.  

Burning Dust

A burning dust smell is extremely common, especially if your furnace has not been operated for a while. While it is not operating, your furnace collects dust that burns off when you turn the furnace on. These types of odors are no cause for concern. However, if the smell persists for more than a couple of hours, call a repairman. 

There are many ways your furnace can tell you that something is wrong. In addition to refusing to work, it may start to emanate strange smells. If you can't identify a strange smell that seems to get worse when your furnace is on, call for a complete inspection of your unit.