Why Does My Furnace Emit A Burning Smell?

By: Brian Schutt  |  March 10, 2023

Your furnace is one of the most critical components of a home’s HVAC system, responsible for heating the entire house during cold winter months. It is essential to prioritize the care and maintenance of your furnace to ensure it remains efficient, safe, and functional.

Failing to maintain and repair your furnace can lead to higher energy bills, reduced air quality, and even safety hazards such as carbon monoxide leaks. By investing in regular furnace maintenance, you can extend the lifespan of your furnace, improve its efficiency, and prevent costly breakdowns.

Noticing Signs Of Trouble

In addition to investing in a regular care and maintenance plan through a qualified HVAC contractor, a homeowner must be diligent about noticing signs and symptoms of trouble with their furnace. The consequences of allowing a substandard operation to continue could have potentially deadly implications for you and your loved ones. Symptoms such as continued cycling, failure to light the pilot light, and burning smells all indicate that there is trouble somewhere in your system, something that needs prompt attention to avoid more costly breakdowns.

Causes Of Furnace Burning Smells In Your Home

There are several possible causes of burning smells coming from a furnace, and it is important to address them promptly to prevent potential safety hazards. Some of the most common causes of burning smells from a furnace include:

  • Dust and debris buildup
  • Clogged air filters
  • Mechanical issues
  • Gas leaks
  • Electrical problems

Dust And Debris

If the furnace has not been used for an extended period, dust and debris may have accumulated inside your unit. When the furnace turns on, the buildup can burn off and produce a burning smell.

Clogged Or Dirty Air Filters

A dirty or clogged air filter can restrict airflow and cause the furnace to overheat, resulting in a burning smell. Clogged air filters also cause your unit to work harder than it should to regulate temperatures in your home; this can cause mechanical and electrical components to overheat, producing a burning smell.

Mechanical Issues

Mechanical issues such as a malfunctioning blower motor, worn-out bearings, or a broken belt can cause the furnace to overheat and produce a burning smell. These issues, if left untreated, can lead to complete system failure as parts begin to break off and cycle through your unit, causing damage to other components.

Gas Leaks

A gas leak can cause a burning smell and may also produce a hissing sound. If you suspect a gas leak, it is essential to turn off the furnace immediately and contact a professional for assistance. To ensure your safety and that of your loved ones, it may be necessary to move to a safe location until the cause of the leak has been found, contained, and repaired.

Electrical Issues

Electrical issues such as faulty wiring or a damaged circuit board can cause the furnace to overheat and produce a burning smell. These could lead to electrical fires if not promptly found and repaired. Only a trained HVAC technician should attempt to perform electrical repair on a furnace; this intricate network of components and parts can cause injury to you if you do not know how to handle wiring and mechanical parts properly.

Mold And Mildew Burnoff

If there is moisture inside your HVAC system, it can cause mold or mildew to grow. This can produce a burning smell when the furnace turns on. Mold and mildew can create noxious fumes when burned off as spores cycle through your system and create potential health issues for you and your family.

Blocked Chimney Or Flue

If your chimney or flue is blocked, your furnace will not be able to vent properly, causing a buildup of combustion gases that produce a burning smell. Some of these gases are potentially toxic to you; get your furnace inspected as soon as possible to avoid contamination of your indoor space.

While it may be tempting to minimize the issue of a burning smell, particularly if you’ve experienced it before, you should consider turning off your furnace and contacting a qualified HVAC technician for inspection and repair.

Quality HVAC Solutions, Exceptional Service

Homesense Heating & Cooling has been proudly serving valued clients in Indianapolis and the surrounding areas since 2009. With services such as heating repair, installation, maintenance, AC repair and installation, air quality services, thermostat repair, ductwork, and inspections, we tend to all your home comfort needs as if they were our own. Trust the professionals at [company_name} to get your furnace up and running again when you need it most. Contact us to make an appointment today.

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