Why Does My Furnace Smell? 5 Strange Furnace Smells and What They Mean

The furnace is an essential part of your home’s HVAC system. Over the winter it helps keep you warm and during the summer it distributes cold air using the same blower motor. It makes sense that with all this wear a smell or two is bound to pop up. But not all smells are created equal. Some are perfectly normal while others are a sign for concern. We’re sharing the six most common strange furnace smells and what they mean.

Burning Dust

We’re starting with the most common smell; burning dust. When the furnace is turned on for the first time in a season or two, you’re likely to smell something akin to burning dust. If you’re wondering what this smell is, it’s literally dust burning off the system. When you smell this, there is nothing to be concerned about. Burning dust is a common smell and should dissipate after the first use of the season.

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A Strong Metallic or Plastic Smell

The parts of a furnace are made to withstand a ridiculous amount of heat. That’s just how they work. Unfortunately, some parts can get old and begin to fail or overheat. If you smell something like burning plastic or metal coming from your vents, it could be an indicator that a part in your furnace is overheating. If you smell this, turn off your system and schedule an appointment with a Service Champions HVAC expert as soon as possible.

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Rotten Eggs or Sulfur

Most furnaces run on natural gas. The great thing about natural gas is that it can power so many appliances, the downside is that natural gas is incredibly flammable. Also, natural gas is odorless. To combat this, gas companies add a chemical to the gas itself to give it a sulfur or rotten egg smell.

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The gas smells so strong because if inhaled, it could lead to a litany of health issues. If you smell rotten eggs or sulfur in your home, take it very seriously. Turn off the system and call an HVAC professional to locate the gas leak and repair it.

Mold or Mildew

We all know the heavy smell of mold and mildew. It’s not pleasant. The last place you want to detect this smell is in your air vents. If the smell of mold or mildew starts to permeate your home, it’s time to call the HVAC experts at Service Champions.

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Usually, a mold or mildew smell means fungus has found a home in your ductwork. You would want to get this taken care of as soon as possible because prolonged mold exposure can have serious health repercussions.

Gym Socks

Remember when we could go to gyms and could change in the locker room? That smell is so distinct we could pick it out anywhere, even in our own homes. If you ever realize your home smells like gym socks or a locker room, it’s not the laundry piled in the corner, it could be your furnace.

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A gym sock smell could indicate that bacteria is growing on your furnace’s system coils. During the transition from AC to furnace season, your coils tend to get cold, then heat up quickly. This rapid change in temperature could cause condensation buildup which in turn could lead to bacteria growth. If your home does reek of gym socks, even if you haven’t been to the gym, it’s time to call an HVAC professional.

Is Your Furnace Emitting a Strange Smell? Call Service Champions!

Are you smelling any of these odors when you turn on your furnace? If so, don’t hesitate to call the HVAC experts at Service Champions! We are the only Diamond Certified plumbing and HVAC company in Southern California and proudly serve Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside county. To meet your HVAC expert, call the number at the top of the screen or click here to book an appointment online.