Now that the winters are on the head, the furnace in homes will get firing. A warm, cozy, and toasty indoors is precisely what you are hoping for. But what if, along with the warmth, an offensive odor also invades your space? Would you be able to ignore it? An even bigger question is should you ignore it?
Take Unnatural Odors Seriously
The furnace is designed for smooth operations that are both soundless and odorless. Therefore, it is wise not to ignore any smells or odors that were not present earlier. These smells are a sign of trouble. It could indicate anything from impending equipment failure to a grave safety issue. The more you ignore the problem, the more it will fester. Prolonged disregard can also spell the end of the furnace, forcing you to invest in a new one, a decision nobody would want to take in a hurry.
3 Furnace Odors You Should Never Ignore
To make things easier, here are three furnace smells that no homeowner should ever disregard:
1. Smell Of Something Burning – When you turn on the furnace for the first time in the season, it is sometimes accompanied by a burning smell. Some people think of it as a musty or dusty odor. This kind of odor is quite normal.
During the off-season, your furnace has been lying idle, accumulating dust. The layers of unwanted particles that settle over one another will have to burn off so that the furnace can work efficiently. Consequently, when you switch on the heating unit, there will be an intense musty burning smell. This smell will slowly abate or diminish as the furnace continues to run, and within a couple of hours, it will go away completely.
You should be concerned if the smell is persistent even after a few days. At this time, the most suitable course of action would be to contact a furnace expert and ask him to inspect the heating system for the possible cause of the odor.
2. Metallic, Electrical, Or Overheating Odors – These smells are very distinct from the smell of burning dust. So you don’t have to worry about mixing the two. Typically, these smells are similar to that of heating or melting rubber, plastic, or even wires. Such odors emanate from the furnace when a component starts overheating, leading to the burning of wires and also the plastic casing around it. One should always take such odors seriously as they can lead to electrical fires that can cause massive damage to property, let alone the furnace.
Whenever your heating system starts to spread the smell of rubber or plastic burning, your first step should always be to shut down the furnace. This will prevent the spread of damage. The next step would be to contact an HVAC expert who deals in furnace repairs to come and have a look at yours. Once they figure out the cause, they can take remedial action and replace or repair the damaged part.
In these cases, the homeowner should never try and troubleshoot the problem themselves. Lack of expertise and knowledge can do more harm than good to the heating system. Furthermore, it also puts your safety at risk as you are not aware of all the precautions and safety measures that you need to adopt.
3. Rotten Eggs Smell – This is probably one of the most concerning smells that can find its origin in the furnace. It is indicative of a gas leak.
Ideally, natural gas has no smell of its own. Therefore, a chemical called mercaptan is added to it to give the gas an unpleasant sulfur-like odor. It makes it easy for the homeowner to detect a gas leak. The smell is indeed offensive and hard to ignore.
A natural gas leak can cause not only fire but also an explosion, both of which could have devastating effects. When you get a whiff of such a smell, shut down the furnace and power off the main electrical supply line to your residence. Next, vacate the house and move away from it. Warn others also not to go close to it. Next, call the utility company and the fire department for help. Finally, give your HVAC contractor a call and ask them to send somebody immediately.
Furnace Maintenance Is Essential And Critical To Eliminate Furnace Odors
The maintenance of your furnace should always be given its due importance. It is necessary for the smooth functioning and maintaining the reliability and efficiency of the heating system. If you think maintenance is a waste of money, it is time to revise your thinking. Furnace maintenance will:
1. Help detect problems even before they occur.
2. It will help reclaim a large part of the lost efficiency.
3. Your furnace will give you value for money service.
Therefore if you have not yet scheduled its maintenance, now is a good time to do so. Maintenance is not a waste of time and money. Instead, it is a proactive step every homeowner should undertake so that they have a fully functioning and safe system at home.
Best Time For Furnace Maintenance
The best time for furnace maintenance is autumn. Ideally, it would be best to get it done before switching it on for the first time after the off-season. Timely maintenance will take care of most odor-related issues. At the end of the check-up, you will have a heating system that will not give up when you need it the most.
Lack of care and maintenance allows problems to fester inside the furnace. These issues can manifest themselves in many ways and have unique signs or tells. One such sign of furnace issues is the furnace odor. Every odor points a finger to a specific problem. Timely detection of these problems will solve the odor problem and prevent further deterioration of the furnace. Do remember, no odor is natural. There is a problem, and that is why there is a smell. For problem detection and rectification, call your HVAC contractor.