What is That Smell When My Furnace Comes On?You’re probably familiar with that burning smell emitted through the vents the first time your furnace is turned on for cooler weather. It’s most likely burning dust. That’s not exactly what you want for your IAQ (indoor air quality), but it’s harmless enough if you don’t have severe allergies or sensitivities to dusty air.

Especially in older homes that have not had HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) maintenance, you could be smelling many years of dust build-up, to the point where your furniture almost always has a dusty coating and the smell never quite goes away in the winter. If that’s the case, you might want to give Grandma the gift of a ductwork inspection and cleaning for the holidays! Burning dust may be harmless, but it’s certainly not healthy.

Typical Furnace Smells

Again, unless the burning smell of dust lasts longer than a day or two, it’s no cause for concern. If it lasts longer, you may have a serious problem and need to call us for a look-see. Other non-threatening furnace smells include:

  • Musty or mildewy smell – Here in North Houston, we’re familiar with that smell. It means there’s been an accumulation of humidity-based dampness somewhere in your HVAC system. If it is faint or only lasts a day or two, no cause for concern. If it is a strong or overpowering smell that won’t go away, you could have a mold problem. Some molds are toxic, especially to children or small animals. Please call us.
  • Oil – The burning smell of oil or an “oily” odor in your air could signal it is time to change your furnace filter. If that doesn’t clear the air (pun intended), call us.

Dangerous Smells

  • Chemical odor – A chemical smell in your home or office is never good. Turn off your HVAC unit and call us.
  • Electrical burning smell – An overheated motor and/or burning electrical wiring has a distinct, metallic smell. If you smell this, turn off your HVAC system and call us.
  • Rotten egg odor – You may have a natural gas leak, and any gas leak is dangerous. Open the windows and leave the house, then call your gas company. Your Nose Knows – Call 281-651-5484

Call Bradbury Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning, 281-651-5484 if your sense of smell is signaling an HVAC problem.