technician opening furnace

3 Furnace Odors and What Causes Them

When everything is functioning properly, your furnace should run without producing any noticeable smells. If you do notice a strange odor coming from your heating equipment or air ducts, it usually means that there’s an issue that needs attention.

Here are three common furnace odors that we receive calls about.

1. Burning Odor

It’s fairly common to detect a faint burning odor when you turn your furnace on for the first time each fall. What you’re smelling is the dust burning off in the equipment. The smell should go away within an hour. Keep in mind that if your system has a lot of dust to burn off, it’s probably overdue for maintenance.

If the burning odor does not go away, your furnace may have one of the following issues:

  • Overheating equipment (check for a clogged air filter)
  • Hot or melting electrical components
  • Something has fallen into your furnace and is burning or melting
  • The oil filter needs to be changed (in oil-burning furnaces only)

2. Rotten Egg Odor

This smell means your furnace has a gas leak. Natural gas is flammable and dangerous, so it’s time to shut off your system immediately. Natural gas has no smell on its own, but gas companies add some noticeably unpleasant sulfur compounds to it as a safety measure so that people are able to detect it.

If you detect only a faint rotten egg odor, it’s generally safe to open the windows to help ventilate your home before you evacuate. If the odor is strong, everyone in your home should evacuate immediately. Don’t turn any electrical devices off or on, and don’t plug or unplug anything: you want to avoid creating sparks that might ignite the gas.

Once you’re outside, call your gas company to let them know about the leak. If the leak is “on the side” that the gas company is responsible for, they’ll perform the repair. However, if the leak is in your heating system, you will most likely be responsible for hiring a professional to repair it.

3. Musty, “Gym Sock” Odor

If the air coming out of your vents smells musty or like a forgotten bag of gym clothes in the trunk of your car, then there’s a good chance that mold is growing somewhere in your HVAC system.

Mold spores require a few different things to grow: food (like dust), water (like condensation), and oxygen. As your system gathers dust and collects condensation, mold can start to grow inside it. It’s also possible for mold to grow inside leaky air ducts.

Do you need a furnace repair in Atlanta? Count on the expert technicians at Premier Indoor Comfort Systems, LLC to provide quality service and solutions: (770) 749-7667.

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