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Why Does My Furnace Smell?

Three Possible Causes for Strange Furnace Odors

After months of not being in use during the warm Michigan summer months, it’s not uncommon for your heating system to give off a smell the first time you turn it on for the heating season. If you’re getting a strange odor coming up from your vents when you turn on the furnace this winter, there can be many reasons – we’ll go over some here.

  • If you are getting a burning smell, it could be caused by dust and dirt build up on the heater. The lack of use during the summer months can build up in and around the heater.
  • If you are getting a mechanical odor or electrical smell, you may have more serious issues such as frayed wires or failing motors. With the aging of your HVAC system, these things can happen. It is also why newer furnaces have built-in safety features that will cause an automatic shut down of the unit. You will want to immediately call a licensed furnace repair company and have them inspect your furnace.
  • If you are getting a chemical scent or fishy order, this can indicate a cracked heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is the heart of your furnace, boiler and heat pump. A cracked heat exchanger will allow gasses like carbon monoxide to escape into your home or business.
    • The first step, again, is to turn off your furnace. Next, you should call an HVAC professional as soon as possible, as combustion fumes are a health and safety hazard. Even if you don’t end up with a cracked heat exchanger, you will have the peace of mind that you and your family are safe.

Once the Michigan temperatures begin to drop, we suggest getting an annual furnace maintenance before the heating season really kicks in and you’ll be using your furnace on a daily basis. This can help identify and fix any odor issues before they become an even bigger, and potentially dangerous, problem.