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Why Is There A Burning Smell Coming From Your Furnace?

If your furnace isn't working properly, that can be a mildly annoying experience, but if there's a burning smell radiating throughout your air vents, that can be downright terrifying. Fortunately, most burning smells are nothing to worry about and are usually cause by one of the items listed below. If you see smoke though, you should immediately evacuate the house and call for emergency services. Otherwise, call an HVAC contractor to schedule a furnace repair service and get your system working efficiently again.

Dust Accumulation

One of the times that homeowners experience a burning smell wafting through their home is when they turn it on in the winter after spending months in a dormant state. Over the warmer months, dust has inevitably collected on the heating elements, which will burn up once the furnace is turned on. This type of burning smell usually only lasts for a few hours (at most), but those with breathing or allergy issues may have to leave the home during that time period. Still, if the smoke lingers, you might need to contact an HVAC contractor for assistance.

Foreign Object

Most furnaces are locked down pretty tight, forbidding any kind of foreign object to get inside. It's not too uncommon to have a piece of fabric or a tiny shard of plastic fall through the cracks and rest against the heating element; when that happens, the heating element will melt the object and send the vapors throughout the house. Normally, this is not a very big deal, but if the fumes are toxic, then you'll need to get it looked at. If the item is large and can potentially damage the furnace, you'll need a repair service to remove the item manually.

Electrical Short

If your furnace runs on electricity, the burning smell you experience may be coming from a tiny electrical fire. A wire that has become frayed and comes into contact with a piece of metal, or a loose connection point to your furnace's energy supply can produce a shock big enough to send a tiny trail of smoke through your house, and in some cases, even trigger your smoke alarm. Duration is key here; if it goes away as quickly as you detect it, then it's usually nothing to worry about. If the spark catches onto insulation that happens to be nearby though, it could cause a huge fire, so any time you see smoke, it's a good idea to call an HVAC company to schedule a furnace repair service to have a look at it.