Why Your Heater Smells Like It’s Burning

heater smells like it's burning

Have you ever noticed a strange and concerning odor coming from your heating system? If your heater smells like it is burning, you might be wondering what’s going on. Don’t worry; in this blog, Armstrong Plumbing, Air & Electric will explore the reasons behind that burning smell and what you can do about it.

What’s Behind the Burning Smell?

1. Dust Accumulation:

One common reason why your heater may put out a burning smell is due to dust accumulation within the heating system. Over time, dust and debris can settle on various components of your heating system, such as the heating coils or the heat exchanger. When the heater starts up, this accumulated dust can get heated, resulting in a burning smell. This is a typical issue that can occur when your heating system hasn’t been used for a while, like during the summer months.

2. New Heater:

If you’ve recently installed a new heating system or haven’t used your heater in a long time, it might emit a burning smell when you first turn it on. This smell can be caused by the heating system’s components getting used for the first time. It’s like the scent of something new, like a new car, which eventually fades away as the system gets accustomed to regular use.

3. Accumulated Debris:

Aside from dust, other debris can accumulate within your heating system, especially if it hasn’t been regularly maintained. This debris can include pet hair, lint, or even small objects that may have fallen into the heating vents. When the heater is turned on, these materials can become heated, creating that unpleasant burning odor.

4. Dirty Air Filters:

Air filters play a vital role in your heating system by trapping dust and contaminants from the air. However, if your air filters are dirty or clogged, they can restrict the airflow, causing the heating system to work harder and heat up. This can result in a burning smell as the overheated components in the system heat up the trapped dust and particles on the filters.

5. Electrical Issues:

Sometimes, a burning smell from your heating system can be indicative of an electrical problem. Electrical components like wires, connectors, or circuit boards can overheat and emit a burning odor if there is a malfunction. If you suspect an electrical issue, it’s essential to turn off your heating system immediately and seek professional help from Armstrong Plumbing, Air & Electric to avoid any potential fire hazards.

6. Oil or Gas Furnace:

If you have an oil or gas furnace, the burning smell may be related to the combustion process. These types of heating systems burn fuel to generate heat, and sometimes the combustion process can produce odors that are similar to burning. However, if the smell is unusually strong or persistent, it’s crucial to have your furnace inspected to ensure there are no issues with the fuel or exhaust system. Remember, if something is wrong, better call Armstrong!

7. Mold or Mildew Growth:

In some cases, a musty or burning smell may indicate the presence of mold or mildew within your heating system. Moisture can accumulate in the ductwork or other components, providing a favorable environment for mold and mildew to grow. When the heating system is activated, the heat can release the odor of mold or mildew. This is not only unpleasant but can also be harmful to your health, so it’s crucial to address this issue promptly.

What To Do About The Burning Smell From Your Heater?

Now that we’ve investigated some common reasons why your heater might smell like it’s burning, here are some steps you can take to address the issue:

1. Regular Maintenance:

One of the most effective ways to prevent a burning smell from your heating system is to schedule regular maintenance. Armstrong’s professional technicians will clean and inspect your heating system, ensuring that all components are in good working order, any accumulated dust or debris is removed, and your air filters are clean.

2. Change Air Filters:

As we said, make it a habit to change your air filters regularly. This will not only improve the air quality in your home but also prevent the heating system from overheating due to restricted airflow. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations on how often to replace the filters, but they should be done at least twice annually before heating and cooling seasons.

3. Ventilation:

If you notice a burning smell when you first turn on your heater after a long period of inactivity, it’s a good idea to ventilate the area by opening windows and doors. This can help dissipate the odor more quickly.

4. Call a Professional:

If you suspect an electrical issue, have a persistent burning smell, or notice mold and mildew growth, it’s essential to call Armstrong Plumbing, Air & Electric. They can identify the source of the problem and provide the necessary repairs or cleaning.

Furnace Technicians in Lubbock, Texas

In conclusion, if your heater smells like it is burning, it’s essential to investigate the source of the odor promptly. While some burning smells can be harmless, others may indicate underlying issues that require professional attention. Regular maintenance and filter changes can go a long way in preventing these odors and ensuring that your heating system operates safely and efficiently. Armstrong offers our  ASAP plan: Armstrong Service Agreement Plan to make regular maintenance easy for your HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems. 

Remember, it’s always better to address the issue early to avoid potential safety hazards and discomfort in your home.

To schedule maintenance on your heating system or to get a professional opinion about the burning smell coming from your heater, contact Armstrong Plumbing, Air & Electric today.