Have you turned on your heater after several months of not using it? If you’re back to relying on your heater, especially in the evenings, you deserve to rest easy knowing the furnace is functioning well and safely. If you notice an odor coming from your furnace, do not ignore what your nose is telling you! The best furnace is one you don’t notice at all.

1. An Electrical Burning: The smell of singed metal and electrical wires is not a positive one. This may be an indicator that your furnace is undergoing excessive heat buildup and wires are being singed. There could be a rubber component adjacent to the burning metal and wires as well. Turn off the furnace until an expert can assess your system.

2. Rotten Eggs: The smell of rotten eggs is one that should never be ignored by a homeowner. If you discover a rotten egg smell or if it stings your nose, turn off the furnace and get professional assistance. Your furnaces’ heat exchanger may be malfunctioning and putting unsafe levels of carbon dioxide in your air. As an added precaution against this deadly gas, install a carbon monoxide detector in your home to keep your space safe.

3. Burning Dust: Without using it for more than half of the year, your furnace is sure to collect some dust! If you turn it on and catch a whiff of that particular odor, your furnace probably needs a new filter. Dust built up on the components inside will burn up especially once the new filter is in place. You should worry if the burning dust lingers for several hours.

4. Smoke: Every homeowner knows that the smell of smoke is rarely a positive sign. Turn the furnace off immediately if you smell (or see) smoke. You may have a blocked chimney which is forcing the smoke out of the ductwork rather than out of your home. Smoke won’t get trapped so if it is escaping into your home, it just might be time for a professional chimney cleaning.

5. Dirty Socks or Mustiness: Just like with the burning dust, you might catch a whiff of dirty socks upon turning on the furnace. When this happens, it could easily be a bit of moisture trapped in the system that created a small amount of mildew via condensation. Get rid of this odor with a cleaning of your system (especially the coils) and replacing your air filter. If it persists, you should call a professional.

Reach out to Mitchell Cooling + Heating if your furnace is emitting a strange odor. It is better to err on the side of caution rather than risk your family’s safety!