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Burning Plastic Smell

What is that Smell When You First Turn On Your Heat

Published on: August 30, 2019
Woman in yellow sweater on phone | Before you Call an HVAC Contractor for Heating Help | AC Southeast

Odd Smells when you turn on your Heat

One of the most disconcerting things a homeowner can experience, when turning on their heat for the first time in autumn or winter, is to notice a weird smell in the house. Whether your furnace smells like burning plastic, it smells musty, or you notice other strange smells coming from your heater, you’ll want to identify the source of the smell so you can rest easier. We’ve put together a list of some of the common heater smells you might experience, what the possible causes are, and what you can do about them.

If You Smell Something Burning

If you notice a burning smell in your house, try to figure out exactly what it smells like. Does your house smells like burning dust? It could simply be due to dust burning off that has collected in the ducts while it hasn’t been in use. The smell should dissipate within a couple hours. If it doesn’t go away, then you should replace your air filter.
If your house smells like burning plastic, or if you see smoke then further investigation is needed. A burning plastic smell might indicate bigger issues or that something is covering one of the registers. You can check this out yourself and make sure that none of the vents are blocked or covered. If that doesn’t solve the problem, then you’ll need to call in an HVAC professional.

Other HVAC Heat System Smells

If you notice a Sulphur (or rotten egg) smell, there may be a gas leak in your home – leave the house immediately and call 911 and your gas company. If your home smells moldy (or like a dirty pair of socks), call you trusted HVAC technician to clean your system. Finally, if you notice an electrical or metallic smell, let the system run for one or two cycles. If the smell does not go away, contact an HVAC tech to inspect the wiring and motor. If you see smoke, it’s imperative that you call 911.

It is very common for homeowners to notice smells coming from their furnaces when they haven’t been used in a while. Sometimes these smells indicate a bigger problem that needs to be addressed by the gas company or an HVAC technician, but usually, the smell will simply go away on its own. If you think the smell is something more critical or just to be safe you can call 911 and your local fire department can come out and inspect your home. Let us help you find a professional near you.