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Furnace 101: Why is There a Burning Smell?

burning smell in furnace

A telltale sign of trouble with any of your appliances is a burning smell, and this is especially true with your heating and air conditioning system. There are things you can tell by the smell, however. Let’s break down furnace 101 and why there is a burning smell.

First Time of the Season Burning Smell

When you turn on your furnace for the first time of the season, you could smell something burning. Unfortunately, that burning smell is usually dust that’s gathered on the burners while it was off for the summer.

It Could Be the Air Filter

The air filter catches and traps dust and small air pollutants like dander, pollen, and mold before it goes into the HVAC system. If you smell something burning, it could mean a clogged air filter. The smell isn’t coming from the filter but from the furnace overheating as it works overtime to pull air through a clogged air filter.

Burning Electrical Components

Furnaces have built-in safety features that trip when the furnace overheats. If the safety feature doesn’t work, the furnace can cause an electrical fire. If you smell something burning, turn off the furnace and call in a professional for assessment.

Plastic Burning

You should never smell burning plastic coming from your HVAC system. It could mean that something has gotten into the furnace that shouldn’t be there if you do. It could be a fire hazard, and you should turn off the furnace immediately. Except when you first turn it on, a burning smell coming from your HVAC system is rarely a good sign. If your furnace smells like something is burning, turn it off and contact H.H. Hovey Heating and Cooling for assessment and repair.

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