Why does my heater smell when I turn it on?

By Brian Glisson

As cold weather approaches, many people are getting ready to turn on the heat in their homes. But, the first thing you may notice when you turn the temperature up is not the warmth- it’s the smell. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, don’t be alarmed! While some odors can be potentially dangerous, most strange smells are normal. We’ll go through some of the common causes of this issue, how to get rid of the unpleasant smells, and steps you can take to avoid this problem.

What’s causing a burning smell from your heater?

There could be a few reasons why a strange odor fills your home when you switch on the heat. In most cases, you should be able to solve this issue yourself. In the case of major problems, however, call Indoor Climate Experts right away and we’ll take a look.

It’s likely that a burning smell when you turn the heater on is caused by dust buildup on the heating coils. During the months the heater remains unused, dust collects. Once the heater is turned on, the dust burns off, which can result in a burning smell. This usually is no cause for concern, and once the dust burns off, the smell should go away. If you suspect dust buildup is the culprit, without touching, inspect your unit for dust. If you notice dust, allow your unit to run as normal and if the smell lingers, call us.

Another reason your heater could smell like it’s burning is dirty filters and/or air vents. If your HVAC system has dirty filters or clogged air vents, this can cause mold or mildew to grow inside your system, also causing an unpleasant smell when you begin running heat. If you suspect dirty filters or air vents, turn your unit completely off and clean or replace your filters. If the odor doesn’t subside, contact us at Indoor Climate Experts.

When should I get my unit repaired?

Most of the problems that cause an unpleasant odor are quick fixes you can do yourself. However, it’s important to recognize when you may need a unit repair. In any situation, if the burning smells do not subside or disappear about an hour after you’ve tried to fix it, this could be a sign of a larger problem and you should call Indoor Climate Experts. Our HVAC technicians may need to service or repair your unit in order for you to safely heat your home again.

How to avoid a burning smell from your heater?

Scheduling regular system maintenance is the best way to help you avoid a burning smell developing from your heater. Most units require maintenance at least once a year. When a technician comes for regular maintenance, your furnace will stay clean, which will help prevent dust build ups. Additionally, our technicians will check your unit for any significant electrical issues or equally serious problems.

Staying consistent with regular maintenance that you can do yourself, like changing your filters every few months, is also essential to keep your system running smoothly and free of unwanted smells. Although regular maintenance isn’t a surefire way to avoid a burning smell from your heater, it is the best way to avoid facing this problem every winter when you turn on the heat.

Call Indoor Climate Experts today to schedule your servicing and keep that smell away!

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