Furnace Smells: Don't Ignore These Potentially Dangerous Signs

by Greg Leisgang on December 18, 2012

Posted in: Furnaces

furnace smells, Cincinnati, OhioMost homeowners are aware that having fully operational carbon monoxide detectors is imperative for their well-being, since this dangerous gas has no odor. Mechanical problems requiring immediate professional attention can often be detected by unusual furnace smells, none of which should be ignored. Here are some of the odors that should have you reaching for the telephone as quickly as possible.

Fuel odors 
While natural gas- or oil-powered furnaces may produce a faint burnt fuel smell, you shouldn't be able to notice the strong scent of unburnt fuel. Natural gas contains added chemicals so that it smells like rotten eggs. If you notice this smell, leave the house immediately and call your fire department or utility company, as leaking gas is highly likely to cause an explosion. While leaking oil doesn't present an immediate danger, it can cause an explosion. The odor of unburnt oil should therefore prompt an urgent service call. 

Musty furnace smells
If the musty, damp odor of bacteria growth or mold comes out of your heating ducts, it may indicate there's a problem with the HVAC system. If you haven't had your heating system serviced recently, schedule an appointment. If cleaning the unit does not take care of the smell, the problem may be located elsewhere. 

Electrical odors
Malfunctioning or broken parts within your furnace may release a smell similar to hot metal or an overheated iron. The problem may stem from neglect or a dirty filter. Contact an HVAC technician to schedule maintenance service and an inspection.

Dusty or burning smells
It is quite normal for a little dust or some of the oil used by manufacturers to keep components rust-free to burn off during the first day or two of operation. If these furnace smells continue, however, they may indicate a problem and should be investigated. 

For expert advice on potential dangers of furnace smells or any other HVAC issues of concern, please contact JonLe Heating & Cooling. We've served homeowners in Butler County ang the Greater Cincinnati since 1959.

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