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What’s That Odor? Finding The Source Of Furnace Smells

Posted on February 5, 2013

Furnace smells may well signal that something’s wrong with your HVAC system. The start of the heating season is often when you’ll detect unusual furnace smells, though they can happen anytime. Here are some different types of furnace odors and what they might mean:

  • If the furnace smell you detect resembles “rotten eggs” and/or the smell is detectable in rooms that are not close to the furnace itself, evacuate your family and call the fire department for help. You likely have a gas leak. Though natural gas does not have a smell itself, gas utilities add a chemical to the gas with the telltale sulfury smell.
  • Moisture and mold may also be the cause of furnace smells. Some describe moisture and mold odor as the “dirty sock” smell. If you think this is what you’re smelling, you need to find the source and remove it.
  • If your furnace smells like burning hot metal or iron, your furnace blower motor may be straining itself or the system wiring may be malfunctioning. Call your reliable HVAC technician to handle this issue.
  • A dusty burning smell is normal when you start up your furnace after having it off for several months. The furnace is likely burning off the dust. that has accumulated, and the smell should go away after an  hour or two. If it continues for longer than that, call your HVAC professional to evaluate it.

Furnace smells should alert homeowners that there may be a problem with their heating system. Please contact us at Comfort Systems, in Wichita, for answers about furnace smells or any other home HVAC issue. We have a 24/7 emergency line.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Wichita, Kansas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about furnace smells and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

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