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What’s that furnace smell?

Strange smells should not be taken lightly when it comes to your furnace.  They can range from completely harmless to potentially life threatening.  Here are the most common reasons for furnace odors and what you should do when you encounter them.

  1. Dust being burnt off  – By far the most common source of odor, it is fortunately quite normal.  After months of not being used, dust accumulates on the heat exchanger of a gas furnace.  With an electric furnace, dust accumulates on the heating coils.  When you turn your furnace on for the first time it heats up, it burns off the dust.  The resulting burnt smell should only last for a short time.
  2. Furnace over heating – There are a number of reasons why your furnace might over heat.  In particular, the blower motor may be faulty and emit a metallic burning smell.  If you become aware of this odor, especially if it occurs after the first couple days of use, contact your local A/C technician so that the problem can be diagnosed and fixed.
  3. Gas leak – Because natural gas is odorless, most utility companies add a chemical called mercaptan. Mercaptan gives natural gas a rotten egg smell so that you can become aware of gas leaking from your furnace.  If you ever detect this smell, turn off your furnace and contact your local A/C service technician immediately.

Hopefully with these tips, you will no longer have to ask the question, What’s that furnace smell?

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