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How to Tell if Your Funky Heater Smell is Normal or Needs Attention

The temperature is beginning to drop and winter is right around the corner. This means that you’ll be turning on your heater in the first time in months. Do you notice how your heater gives off that strange scent after you turn it on for the first time in a while? What exactly is that smell? The thing is, it could either be something as harmless as a dirty filter, but it also could be a serious problem, like a broken electrical component. The following are some of the different smells that a heater might produce and what it means:

  • How to Tell if Your Funky Heater Smell is Normal or Needs Attention
    Source: Shutterstock

    Musty smell – A musty smell is most likely due to dust and dirt having collected in your ducts. When you turn the heater on, the dust is blown throughout the house, causing the musty smell. Getting an air duct cleaning service to come clean your ducts will help prevent this.

  • Oil smell – If you have an oil furnace, then you may smell oil when you first turn it on. Odds are the smell is being caused by the oil filter, which is probably clogged. You’ll have to find the filter and have it replaced in order to get rid of the scent.
  • Smoke smell – If you smell smoke when you turn your heater on, there’s definitely an issue. Odds are you’re smelling smoke because your chimney is clogged. You’ll need to contact an HVAC technician to come inspect your chimney and remove whatever is clogging it.
  • Electrical burning smell – If you notice an electrical burning smell, then there are several possible causes. There may be something in your duct work that is overheating, causing it to produce that smell. For example, a toy that was dropped by your child through the register. Check all of your registers to see if this is the problem. It could also be caused by the overheating of your furnace motor or a cracked heat exchanger, which will require immediate repair.

Pay attention to the smell of your heater and don’t forget to have an air duct cleaning regularly performed.

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