Ideally, your heater should be odorless or smell pleasant, at least. However, there are times that your HVAC will eventually emit smells that you may find worrisome. Some smells are fairly common and expected from your heater, which have been turned off for months during summer. However, some smells can also be serious health hazard that warrant for immediate furnace repair. Here are some of the common heater smells and what should you do about them:
Burning Dust and Burning Plastic
If your heater had been turned off for many months, it accumulates dust. Thus, the first time you use it in the fall, it burns the dust that the heat exchanger, burners, and other parts have collected. The burning dust odor flows through your air vents. While the smell is not really pungent, the burning smell could still make you and your family uncomfortable. Depending on the condition of your heater, the smell should be gone after a few hours. There are also times that you'll smell burning plastic. This means that there is a foreign object burning in your furnace. To avoid this, you should clean your heater first and change air filters before using your heater after a long period of shutting it down.
Chemical Odor and Rotten Eggs
While burning dust should not be a cause of alarm, chemical and rotten egg odors require more urgent action. If you smell a distinctly chemical odor, it is likely that your heat exchanger is broken. It can cause carbon monoxide poisoning and also increases the risk of fire. The smell of rotten eggs implies a natural gas leak. In both cases, turn off your heater immediately and ventilate your home. Call your furnace repair and gas company to fix the problem.
Electrical or Metal Burning
Both electrical and metal burning odors mean excessive heat is coming out of your furnace. It may be caused by an overheated blower motor or normal wear and tear in your furnace components. Most HVAC systems have safety features that will automatically shut down the furnace if it overheats. However, if the safety feature fails, your furnace can be dangerously hot. To be safe, turn off your HVAC and call for furnace repair.
Unless you're certain that the smell is from burning dust and debris, don't wait too long to turn your HVAC off if it emits an unwanted smell. Call your local HVAC repair technician to solve the problem.