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What Is Making My Furnace Smell?

Smell odor

Posted: October 10, 2019

By now, you’re started up your furnace to chase away some of the early fall chill from your Delaware Valley home. If your furnace has been maintained properly by your heating system experts at Wilson Oil and Propane – including this year – it will more than likely perform without a hitch this season.

But sometimes, especially if you’ve ignored the benefits of getting regular heating maintenance, your furnace will give you warning signs of a coming problem – and those signs will often come in the form of odd smells.

Strange odors emanating from your furnace can indicate a several problems; some are easy to fix, some are more complex. Here are some common furnace odors and what they may mean for your heating equipment.

Common Furnace Odors

  • Oil odors. If your oil furnace is working properly, you should never smell fuel oil. An oil smell could be caused by a leak, burner troubles, a heat exchanger failure or exhaust system problems. You should request service as soon as possible to correct this situation.
  • Smoky odors when your furnace is operating. If a fireplace or exhaust fan is running at the same time as your burner, this can result in a smoky odor because a backdraft is pulling flue gases through the exhaust system and into the home.
  • Dusty/burning smell. A dusty, burning smell coming from your oil or gas furnace can be quite common, especially early in the heating season; the smell is often the result of your furnace burning away dust and dirt that has accumulated during the offseason. If dust is the cause, the burning smell should go away after a few hours. If it doesn’t, try replacing your air filter (which you should do at the beginning of the season anyway) before you contact us for service.
  • Electrical / burning wire smells. Electrical smells coming from your furnace are typically a sign of overheating. If your furnace is cycling often (turning on and off) for no apparent reason, it could be your equipment protecting itself from a more substantial (and costly) breakdown. Give your furnace a rest for a few hours; if the problem returns when you fire it up again, call us for service.
  • Mechanical smells. Worn out rubber and grinding metal parts will produce an odor that’s similar to electrical overheating. These smells can indicate a serious problem that needs immediate attention; shut your heating system down. If you’re having this problem, call us right away, and we’ll send out our service technician as soon as possible.

Remember to check the air filter on your oil furnace

If we have done a heating tune-up for you recently, we have started you off with a fresh, clean air filer. Moving ahead into the heating season, one way to help your furnace operate without any trouble is to change or clean your furnace’s air filter as often as the manufacturer recommends. In general, you should check the filter’s condition about once a month and change/clean it when necessary.

If your air filter gets clogged with dust and other debris, there is less room for air to flow through your system and through your home. Your furnace will need to work harder to circulate air, which will result in an increase in your heating bills. Your home will become less comfortable and the indoor air quality will degrade. If neglected for too long, a dirty air filter can even result in your furnace shutting down.

If you think your oil furnace has seen better days and needs to be replaced, please contact us for a free estimate on a new system.

Also, for a limited time, we can help you save up to $1,550 on select Daiken heating and cooling systems. Go here for more details.