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Is your Heater in Trouble? Diagnose Common Problems Based Off your System’s Odor

When things are going right with your heater, you probably hardly notice it, but when things start to go wrong your nose will definitely notice if your system begins giving off odors.  Most of these odors are harmless or require only a simply fix, but some odors can be caused by a serious problem that requires immediate attention. Diagnose your heater’s problem with the help of your sense of smell and a qualified HVAC technician if need be.

Can you *smell* the electricity in the air?

An electrical burning scent can indicate a problem with (you guessed it) the electrical components within your heater like wiring or motors. It can also be the result of an air filter that needs changing. Try changing the filter first and if it’s still an issue, call in a technician.

Who left the eggs out all night?

A rotten egg smell can spell out a serious problem – usually a natural gas leak. This is an urgent matter as this kind of issue can result in fires or explosions.  Natural gas is naturally (pun intended!) odorless, but a smell is added to it for reasons just like this.  If your nose tickles with a scent of rotten eggs, shut off the system immediately, open the windows and exit the home.  Call in the pros – gas company or fire department – to see what to do next.

Get out the duster!

When firing up your heater for the first time in the fall, you might notice a burnt dust smell.  This is just dust or debris that has settled on/in your unit while it wasn’t in use. Unlike the above issue, this odor is harmless and will usually remedy itself after the system has cycled on and off once or twice. As always, call an HVAC technician if the problem persists.

Sorry little guy!

Small animals like rodents are known to get into the ductwork of your system and die. This is sure to result in a rotting/decaying odor.  You should turn off the system until the little critter is removed from the ductwork. It might be a good idea to schedule a duct cleaning service as well to ensure there is no nasty r left behind.