Is It the Dog…Or the Furnace?

Posted: November 16, 2018

Common Furnace Problems: Strange Smells

Your furnace is going to be one of your best friends this winter. Why not? It will be working hard to keep you and your family warm and safe in the cold months ahead—usually without complaints. But at some point, your furnace may let you know that it’s not happy and needs help. Sometimes that message will come in the form of strange odors.

Odd smells from your furnace usually indicate a problem, some serious, some not. In our experience, here are three of the most common furnace odors you may encounter,

Dusty, burning smell

We often hear about this when customers turn on their furnace for the first time as the heating season kicks in. This smell usually means your furnace is just burning off the dust and dirt that has built up on it during the off-season.

The smell should stop in a few hours. If the smell continues, try replacing your air filter, which may be dirty. The filter should always be changed or cleaned (depending on its type) at the beginning of the season. Check it regularly during the heating season. Make sure you shut off your furnace before replacing the filter.

If changing the filter doesn’t work, it’s time to call for service.

Electrical or metallic smells

Electrical smells ((similar to the smell of burning wire) typically mean something in your furnace is overheating. Your furnace will usually shut itself down as a safety measure. A similar odor is a mechanical smell, often traced to metal parts that are burning due to wear and tear. If you detect any smells like this, shut your furnace down and alert us to the problem right away.

Rotten egg smell

In most cases, a rotten egg smell indicates that you have a gas leak; if you do, follow these procedures outlined by the Propane Education and Research Council:

No flames or sparks

Immediately put out all smoking materials and other open flames. Do not operate lights, appliances, telephones, or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or a fire.

Leave the area immediately

Get everyone out of the building or area where you suspect gas is leaking.

Shut off the gas

Turn off the main gas supply valve on your propane tank, if it is safe to do so. To close the valve, turn it to the right (clockwise).

Report the leak

From a neighbor’s home or other building away from the gas leak, call your propane retailer right away. If you can’t reach your propane retailer, call 911 or your local fire department. Do not return to the building or area until your propane retailer, emergency responder, or a qualified service technician determines that it is safe to do so.

Get your system checked before reuse

Before you attempt to use any of your propane appliances, your propane retailer or a qualified service technician must check your entire system to ensure that it is leak-free.

Read more safety tips.

If you’re having furnace trouble, Wilson Oil and Propane can help. Our expert technicians will get your equipment repaired quickly and do the job right so you can enjoy reliable heating service all season long.

If your heating equipment needs to be replaced, we can help you there too, with a high-efficiency heating system installation.