Smokey Smell From Furnace?

Should your furnace elicit a burning smell when it is turned on, don’t underestimate potential problems, as something as serious as an overheating motor can exist.  But, in actuality, a myriad of issues may be associated with a burning smell with the onset of your furnace.  For example, dirt and dust typically build up on furnaces when they are not in use, and the smell is typically associated with the burning away of this debris, especially when the smell is associated with the initial start-up of the furnace following disuse.  If this is the case, the smell will lessen over time.  But, any burning smell associated with your furnace is atypical and requires inspection.

Surely, if the burning smell persists or worsens, call a repairman to service your furnace.  The problem can be associated with a minor issue, such as a filter requiring replacement, but the problem can be associated with more pressing issues associated with components of the heating system, such as a motor as already mentioned or a heat-exchanger.

To be safe, after assessment of a burning smell, turn off the furnace and call a repairman for servicing, to ensure that fire does not erupt.  The problem requires investigation and should not be taken lightly.  If a smoky smell exists in the home during the summer or high temperatures, the problem probably does not lie with your furnace.  You should assess the number of people in your household that smell the burning odor, as a myriad of problems may be the cause, including combustibles kept in the home, a back-up in the chimney, which if built properly and running smoothly should not have a back draft in its system.  Musty odors usually consist of the build-up of mold in the furnace and require cleaning.  An electrical burning smell can be associated with an object being trapped in the ductwork of your furnace, which overheats and burns when your furnace is ignited.  But, it can also be associated with an overheating furnace motor or a cracked heat exchanger in your furnace.

When the smell can’t be determined or if it worsens, obviously it is time to service your furnace.  Servicing the furnace typically involves lubrication to assure the motor is running smoothly, as well as cleaning ducts, changing filters, tightening the system, and replacing parts where necessary.  A clean filter cuts down on dust in homes and prevents allergies from flaring, and keeps home surfaces clean and the indoor air quality from smelling stale and musty.  Clean filters also help furnaces to run more effectively and longer without major issues.