Why Your Furnace Has a Strange Smell

As the weather gets colder and you switch from cooling to heating your home, you may be worried about unusual furnace smells in the air. Learn what the most common furnace smells could suggest and how proactive you should be about them.

The Furnace Smells Musty

Musty furnace odors almost always indicate mold growth somewhere in the HVAC system. To avoid subjecting your family to mold and mildew spores, address this problem right away.

A clogged air filter can harbor mold, so getting rid of the smell could be as easy as replacing the filter. If that fails to remove the smell, the AC evaporator coil placed near the furnace could be to blame. This component collects condensation, which could trigger mold growth. You'll want a professional’s help to inspect and clean the evaporator coil. When this still doesn't help, take a look at requesting air duct cleaning. This service cleans away hidden mold, regardless of where it’s growing in your ductwork.

The Furnace Smells Like Spoiled Eggs

This is one of the most worrisome furnace smells because it probably indicates a gas leak. The utility company includes a useful substance known as mercaptan to the natural gas supply to make leaks easier to notice.

If you recognize a rotten egg smell close to your furnace or out of your ductwork, shut down the heater immediately. If you know where the main gas supply valve is, shut that off too. Then, evacuate your home and call 911, followed by your gas company. Don’t reenter the house until a professional tells you it’s safe.

The Furnace Has a Sour Stench

If you discover a sour smell that stings your nose while standing near the furnace, this may mean the heat exchanger cracked open. This important component safely contains combustion fumes, like carbon monoxide, so a crack might pump unsafe levels of CO gas into your home.

Carbon monoxide poisoning has the potential to be fatal, so turn off your furnace as soon as possible if you recognize a sour odor. Then, reach out to an HVAC professional for an inspection. Consider replacing your furnace if a cracked heat exchanger is the culprit. For your family's safety going forward, ensure you have working CO detectors on each floor of your home.

The Furnace Smells Dusty

When you fire up the furnace for the first time every fall, you can expect a dusty odor to appear for a little while. This is the smell of six months’ worth of dust burning off as the furnace wakes up. As long as the smell disperses within 24 hours, you don't have anything to worry about.

The Furnace Has a Smoky Smell

Natural gas, oil and propane furnaces are combustion appliances, so they vent fumes to the exterior. A smoky smell can mean the flue is backed up, and now fumes are backdrafting into your home. The odor can reach through the entire house, endangering your family’s health if you let it continue. So turn off the furnace and get in touch with a professional straightaway to schedule a repair.

The Furnace Smells Like It's Burning Plastic

Overheating and melting electrical components are the most plausible reason for a burning plastic smell to come from your furnace. A faulty fan motor is also possible. If you don’t correct the problem, an electrical fire could start, or your furnace could end up with irreparable damage. Disable the heating system right away and call an HVAC technician for help diagnosing and repairing this weird furnace smell.

The Furnace Has an Oily Smell

If you use an oil furnace, you may pick up on this smell whenever the oil filter becomes clogged. Try replacing it to see if that resolves the problem. If the smell persists for more than a day after taking care of this step, it might imply an oil leak. You'll be better off with help from an HVAC expert to fix this problem.

The Furnace Reeks of Sewer Odors

Sewer gas smells quite similar to rotten eggs, so first determine the potential for a natural gas leak. If that’s not the issue, your sewer lines could have an issue, for example a dry trap or sewer leak. Flush water down all your drains, including the basement floor drain, to fill dry sewer traps. If the smell persists, you should contact a sewer line repair company.

Contact Orangutan Home Services for Furnace Repair

If you're still uncertain, call an HVAC technician to examine and repair your furnace. At Orangutan Home Services, we deliver comprehensive diagnostic services to identify the problem before repairs begin. Then, we encourage the most viable, cost-effective repairs, along with an up-front estimate for every option. Our ACE-certified technicians can resolve just about any heating problem, and we back our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee for one year. To learn more about why your furnace smells bad or to request furnace repair near you, please contact your local Orangutan Home Services office today.

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