Funky Furnace Startup Smells

If you haven’t turned on your heat yet, you probably will be real soon. Turning on your furnace for the first time isn’t always a piece of cake, though. If you haven’t had preseason maintenance on your furnace, you may notice strange smells or other problems. Here are four common furnace startup problems and solutions:

  1. My heat smells musty: Did you change your furnace’s air filter before firing it up? During a damp summer, air filters are optimal environments for mold to grow, so you should always change the filter before your first start up.

    Another place for possible mold growth is the filter of a whole house humidifier that’s integrated with your furnace. Make sure that you clean or replace the humidifier filter every year before start-up. If you change the filter and the air still smells musty, you might have a mold problem in your ductwork; you may want to call your Gagne technician to verify the problem

  2. I smell something burning when the heat is on: When you first turn on the heat each year, the furnace burns off dust and debris that has collected in your air handling system over the summer, so a burning smell is typical for the first day or so after turning on the furnace for the first time.  There are some instances when you should call your heat technician, though:

    • The burning smell doesn’t go away
    • The burning smells of plastic: A plastic smell could mean there’s an object in your ductwork.
    • The burning smell is electrical: Call ASAP. This could mean a cracked heat exchanger or overheating furnace motor.
  3. I smell something dead!: The smell of a dead animal is pretty distinct and very overpowering, It’s possible that a mouse or other animal made a home in your ductwork and never got out.  Visually inspect your ducts to see if you can find the culprit, or call an HVAC company to search for you.
  4. I smell gas: If you smell gas, you should check to make sure that your pilot light didn’t go out (you’ll probably notice that your home is cold before you notice the smell). The smell of gas is very dangerous- if it’s not your pilot light, you should evacuate immediately and call your gas company.  Learn more about natural gas safety.

Obviously, an untended furnace can cause a lot of problems. If you want to avoid the above problems, it’s not too late to schedule seasonal maintenance on your furnace.

If you live in Roswell, Buckhead, Canton or other communities in the metro-Atlanta area, call our Gagne heat technicians today for routine maintenance, repairs or for help in sniffing out your furnace problems.