Noxious furnace odors can ruin an otherwise pleasant evening. These odors can also signal a more serious underlying problem with your furnace. Unless you have a strong stomach and can ignore what your nose is telling you, you shouldn't ignore these common furnace odors:
1. Burning Dust
Burning dust is usually the first strange odor homeowners will encounter when starting their furnaces at the beginning of the heating season. The aroma of burnt dust comes from the fine layer of dust and debris that settles on typically active parts of the furnace, such as the burners and heat exchangers. Once your furnace goes live for the first time, this thin layer heats up and burns away harmlessly.
The odor usually goes away on its own after a few days of continuous operation. You can minimize the impact of burning dust by changing your furnace's air filter and thoroughly vacuuming the furnace itself. If you continue smelling burned dust after a week or two, have your HVAC technician perform a thorough inspection of your furnace as soon as possible.
2. Burning Metal or Plastic
Plastic and metal components within your furnace can also produce odors as they overheat. Most cases of overheating are caused by an electrical or mechanical fault, such as a faulty thermostat or damaged wiring. An overworked blower fan motor can also produce metallic or burned plastic odors as it overheats.
If you smell these odors, shut down your furnace and contact your HVAC technician for inspection and repair. After the proper repairs are made, you should keep a close eye on your furnace for the next few days to make sure there are no further overheating issues.
3. Dirty Gym Socks
If the smell of your furnace makes you question whether or not you washed that load of dirty laundry, then chances are you're dealing with mold or mildew buildup. A thriving colony of mold and bacteria can fill your entire home with a dank, musty odor. It's not just the aroma that's dangerous -- mold and bacteria can also negatively impact your personal health by triggering a variety of respiratory symptoms.
Although you can clean up your furnace using homemade remedies, it's best to leave the cleaning to the professionals. Your HVAC technician may also recommend preventive measures to keep mold and mildew from returning. These measures often include the installation of UV germicidal lamps within the furnace.
4. Rotten Eggs
If you own a furnace powered by natural gas or propane, the sudden aroma of rotten eggs can signal a very dangerous situation unfolding. Gas providers add a unique chemical to supplies of natural gas or propane. This measure makes the normally-odorless gases easier for homeowners and professionals to detect in the event of a gas leak. To human beings, the added chemical smells a lot like rotten eggs.
If you encounter this odor, stop whatever you're doing and exit your home immediately. After you are clear of the danger, contact your local gas company or fire department for further assistance.
For more information about keeping your furnace functional, contact companies like Ronnie Ritchie Service Co Inc.