As winter approaches and temperatures start to drop, many of Richmond’s homeowners think about turning on their heaters for the first time during the season. However, when you adjust the thermostat and expect your house to get warm and cozy, the last thing you want to deal with is a bothersome burning smell.

If it’s happened to you, there’s no need to panic. While some smells indicate potentially dangerous issues that require professional intervention, other odors are more common. Here, we’ll explain why your furnace may emit burning smells, and the steps you can take to handle these situations safely.

A Dusty Furnace

If the burning smell appears when the system is switched on, it’s likely due to a buildup of dust on the furnace itself. For those who live in areas with significant seasonal changes, such as our part of Kentucky, furnaces aren’t used year-round. Infrequent usage allows dust to collect, and when these units are turned on for the first time in months, that dust will burn off and create an unpleasant aroma.

Thankfully, this built-up dust isn’t a major cause for concern, as the smell will disappear when it burns off. Inspect the unit thoroughly for dust buildup, and if it’s there, just let the system run for a few minutes to see if the smell goes away. If it doesn’t, or if it gets worse, turn the system off and call us for help.

Debris Trapped Inside the System

During the time when a system goes unused, it’s possible for objects to fall into an outdoor unit or the ductwork. If your Richmond home is equipped with a central heating system, see if you can isolate the smell to a certain room.

If that’s possible, the burning odor may be caused by trapped debris in that area. Try to look inside the vent; you may be able to spot the object that’s trapped inside. Remove the object if possible and see if the burning smell dissipates. If it’s impossible to remove the object or if the odor persists, call us for assistance and advice.

Dirty Vents and Filters

Gas furnaces need regular maintenance to keep burning smells at bay. If your home’s furnace has clogged air vents or dirty filters, the buildup might cause mildew or mold to grow inside the system, creating unpleasant musty smells.

If you detect a foul smell coming from the furnace, turn the unit off and have the filter replaced or cleaned before switching it back on. However, if a new filter doesn’t resolve the issue, call us to schedule a system inspection and cleaning.

Damaged Wiring

A burning odor coming from a home heating system may indicate a dangerous electrical issue. Regular wear and tear, as well as improper installation, can damage a system’s wiring. If that happens, it may crack the heat exchanger, overheat the blower motor, or cause other troubles. All these issues are serious and should be addressed immediately by licensed HVAC professionals.

When It’s Time for Furnace Repairs

Many of the odor problems we’ve discussed have quick fixes. Unfortunately, though, some situations require more in-depth solutions. If the burning smell doesn’t disappear shortly, the issue may be significant enough to warrant a call to an HVAC expert.

Heaters with burning smells may have electrical problems or structural damage. If the undesirable odor is caused by any of these problems, our technicians can replace malfunctioning parts or upgrade your system, so you’ll have safe, efficient heat all season long.

Is It Possible to Prevent Heaters From Creating Burning Smells?

The easiest way to avoid foul odors is to maintain the unit regularly. Furnace maintenance should be scheduled at least once per year, and more often in cases of heavy use. When our technicians arrive, they’ll clean your furnace, which reduces the risk of dust-related burning smells. We’ll also inspect the system for other, more serious issues.

Additionally, performing simple maintenance tasks such as filter changes will ensure that your system runs smoothly. While regular upkeep isn’t foolproof, it’s the easiest way to ensure that your Richmond home stays warm and odor-free all winter long.

Contact Us

Whether your furnace’s burning odor is due to dust buildup, trapped debris, or an electrical issue, we want to help. In addition to providing heating services, we also work on air conditioners and provide indoor air quality services. Call Affordable Service Solutions Heating & Air Conditioning or visit us online to schedule a seasonal appointment.

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