Smell from Heater? Here's What to Look for. . .
As the autumn's vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows fade into white, glistening snow-covered branches, Mother Nature uses the last of the falling leaves as a gentle reminder that winter is upon us. And with it are the cooler temperatures that beckon homeowners to turn off their fans and turn on their heaters.
According to Angie's List, a subscription-based, crowd-sourced review website of local businesses, it's normal to smell burning dust when you first turn on your heater for the season. Dust settles on the heating components, but burns off as soon as the unit heats up. However - and that's a big however - if the smell from heater lasts for more than a few hours, it might be time to launch an investigation.
In addition to burning dust, the most common culprits of a smell from heater include:
- Clogged filters. Your heater's motor produces a burning smell when it's overworked, and the most common cause of an overworked motor is a clogged filter. Replacing your furnace filter before turning on the heating unit for the first time each season could save you quite a headache
- Humidifiers. If you have a humidifier filter, you should inspect the filter at least once a year and replace or clean it as needed, as humidifier filters can collect mold (leading to a musty smell from heater).
- Closed vents. When too many of your vents are closed or blocked off, that hot air becomes trapped in your ductwork, causing a variety of issues for your system. Unlike cool air, you can actually smell when too much hot air is trapped.
- Oil. If you have an oil furnace, there is an oil filter inside your unit. When this filter gets clogged, you may smell oil when your furnace turns on. You will need to locate this filter and change it.
- Damaged furnaces. Your system's motor can overheat due to age, wear, or lack of maintenance. If all else fails, and you believe this is your problem, you should turn off your system and call a professional HVAC technician to evaluate the problem for you.
If the cause of the smell from heater is more than just the initial dust burning off, you might want to consider a professional air duct cleaning to remove the odor because removing the particulates that are trapped in your ductwork will prevent you from recirculating them.
More info? For more question regarding unpleasant odors lurking in your home, check out our post on Dirty Sock Syndrome: What is Dirty Sock Syndrome and How Can You Avoid It?