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5 Furnace Smells and What They Mean

Posted on November 13, 2017 by Chris Lancaster

Furnace Smells and What They MeanSometimes appliances in our home can make funny smells and we wonder if it’s just temporary or something we should be concerned about. At Lancaster Brothers, we’re familiar with these smells and we know which ones to ignore and which ones mean “sound the alarm”. Here’s a little breakdown so you’ll know too.

What’s That Smell Coming from my Furnace?


1. Burnt toast – this smell is common at the beginning of furnace season. It’s nothing to be alarmed about. Basically, dust gathers on the furnace parts over the summer and when the furnace turns on and those parts heat up, a slight burning smell fills the house. Once the dust has burned away, the smell should be gone. If the smell persists after the first or second time you turn your furnace on, it may be something more. Give us a call.

2. Mustiness – if you smell a musty odor, it may be due to moisture buildup in your duct system. We can recommend a reputable duct cleaning company to make sure your ducts are dry and odor free. After you get the ducts cleaned, change your air filter to a fresh, clean filter.

3. Metallic or electrical burning – this could be an object in the duct work that starts to smell when it gets overheated. Sometimes a spill on a register or in the duct work can also cause this type of smell. So check that first especially if you have small spill-prone children (show me one that’s not). If you don’t find anything obvious, It could also be the furnace motor overheating or a cracked heat exchanger. Call a technician to get to the source of the smell.

4. Burning plastic or rubber – if components or electrical elements inside your furnace are getting too hot, they may produce furnace smells similar to burning oil, hot plastic, or rubber. If you smell odors that suggest something in your furnace is overheating or burning, shut the furnace off immediately and call a technician.

5. Rotten eggs – this smell is the most serious of all. It indicates a gas leak.  Utility companies and fuel providers put a sulfur smell in the normally odorless natural gas so it is detectable by human beings. Do not mess around if you smell sulfur. Shut off your furnace and call a utility company.

If you smell #3, 4, or 5, it could indicate a problem with your furnace or worse, give us a call at at (913) 851-3399 and one of our technicians will come take a look. We’re here to help.

Lennox LogoIf you have an older furnace (and you know who you are) start it up early so you’re not living without heat on a cold day. If you think this is the year you’ll need a new furnace, give us a call and we’ll fill you in on the great deals going on with Lennox. A new high-efficiency furnace will heat your home better and save you money on energy bills. Lancaster Brothers proudly installs Lennox furnace and air conditioning systems. Contact us for current rebates and special financing for qualified homeowners.

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