What Does the Smell Coming From the Furnace Mean?

YWhat Does the Smell Coming From the Furnace Mean?our furnace may produce a variety of odors as it runs through its first few cycles of the season, and other scents may become noticeable at any time during operation. What are these smells? It’s critical that you understand what each particular furnace smell says about your HVAC system. Immediate attention to issues may help prevent problems with furnace efficiency, mechanical breakdown and certain hazardous conditions that might crop up throughout the life of your system.

Common Furnace Smells

There are several common odors you might notice coming from the vents when your furnace runs. These include:

  • Burning dust. During a period of disuse, dust may settle inside the air ducts and the furnace’s heat exchanger.
  • Smoke or electrical burning odors. Among the more troubling scents that furnaces produce, other burning odors may indicate foreign objects or damage inside the furnace.
  • Musty odors. Dirt, moisture and microorganisms may settle in the ductwork and/or air filters of infrequently-used furnaces.
  • Rotten eggs. Utility companies add a sharp-smelling compound to natural gases in order to alert homeowners of possible leaks. This compound typically contains sulfur, which is what gives decaying proteins their distinct scent.

Furnace Smell Troubleshooting and Maintenance

With the exception of short periods of burning dust, the manifestation of a furnace smell often indicates the need for maintenance or repair. If burning dust odors persist, check the furnace’s air filter to ensure it’s clean and ready for use. Most other common odors indicate a need for a qualified HVAC service technician to assess the system so necessary repairs can be done immediately. Persistent musty smells may be the result of problems inside the ductwork, which may need to be sealed, repaired, or even replaced. If you smell rotten eggs or a similar pervasive scent, then immediately ventilate the house, get safely away from it and call emergency services — it could be a potentially deadly gas leak.

Contact us at C.R. Wolfe Heating & Air Conditioning for more information on how to get rid of that furnace smell, or for a wide range of other HVAC services for your Middletown home.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Middletown, New York about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about furnace odors and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide or call us at 845-367-4482.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “piotr-marcinski/Shutterstock”

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