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Why Your Heater Smells Like It’s Burning


Texas winters can be brutal, so you need a heating system to keep up with the demands of keeping your home comfortable in the colder months. At Total Air, we know burning smells coming from your heater can be scary, but they’re not always a cause for concern. We’re here to tell you about the common reasons why your heater may smell like something is burning and when to call a professional.

Learn more about Total Air’s residential and commercial HVAC services by calling 972-881-0020 or by contacting us online.

A woman holds her nose while standing in front of a heater

Top Reasons Why Your Heater May Smell Like It’s Burning

You could have noticed a burning smell coming from your heater for several reasons. Some issues are simple fixes, while others require professional assistance.

Common causes of burning smells include:

Dust Accumulation

Dust is the most common cause of burning smells emanating from your heating system. If you haven’t used your heater in a while, dust has likely built up. When you turn your heater back on after being unused, the accumulated dust can ignite, causing a burning smell.

What should you do?

Dust buildup isn’t usually a big problem. After the dust burns off, the smell usually goes away. If you suspect dust is the cause of the odors, let your heating unit run for about 10 minutes. If the smell diminishes or disappears, you should be in the clear. If the smell doesn’t go away or worsens, turn off your heater and call an HVAC professional immediately. You can avoid burning smells caused by dust by cleaning your heater before turning it on for the winter.

Pet Dander

Pet hair and dander can build up in your heating system if you have pets, especially cute furry ones. Like dust buildup, when you turn on your heater after inactivity, the pet dander can ignite, creating a burning smell.

What should you do?

Regularly cleaning or changing the filters in your heating system can help with this issue. You can also consider using filters designed to catch pet hair and allergens. Vacuuming and regularly dusting your home can also help prevent pet hair and dander from entering your HVAC system. After the dander burns off, the smell should go away. If the smell persists, contact an HVAC professional immediately to determine if there’s a bigger issue.

Electrical Issues

Electrical issues are a more serious cause of burning smells. Over time, general wear and tear or improper installation can damage your heating system’s electrical wiring. Damage to your heater’s electrical system can lead to overheating the blower motor, a cracked heat exchanger, and other serious issues that require immediate attention from an HVAC professional.

For safety reasons, many heating systems are built to shut down once they start overheating, but faulty wiring can cause your heating system to malfunction and continue to overheat, which can cause a fire.

What should you do?

Electrical issues in your heating system are serious and should be dealt with by a professional right away. If you think the burning smell from your heater might be related to an electrical problem, immediately turn off your HVAC unit and contact an HVAC technician with the tools and experience necessary to handle and repair any issues with your heater safely.

Old Furnace Filter/Dirty Vents

Regularly replacing the filters in your heating system is crucial for maintaining the unit and protecting your health. If you don’t replace your filters, they can clog up and create a burning smell. Old air filters can also cause mold and mildew to grow inside your ductwork.

What should you do?

Regularly replacing the filters in your heater will prevent burning smells caused by buildup on old filters. You should replace your filters every three months for maximum performance. Check the unit for mold and mildew if you notice a musty smell coming from your heater. Turn the unit off, clean it thoroughly, and replace the filter. If the musty smell remains, then that means there could be mold and mildew in your ductwork.

Ductwork cleaning is a job best left to trained professionals. If you think your ductwork needs to be cleaned, call an experienced HVAC technician with the necessary chemicals, tools, and expertise. A professional may also be needed to inspect your home for mold to eliminate any threats to your health.

 

When To Call an Expert

Any type of burning smell in your home can be unsettling, especially smells coming from your heater. Burning smells don’t always signal a major issue, so it’s important to know the common reasons why burning smells sometimes happen. If you identify the potential cause of the smell and take appropriate action, you can often solve the problem independently without a professional’s help. Regular maintenance is also the best way to prevent issues with your heating system before they happen.

If the odor persists or you suspect the cause of the burning smells coming from your heater may be more serious than dust or dander buildup, call the HVAC experts at Total Air.

 

Why Call Total Air?

For over 60 years, Total Air has been proud to serve as Northern Texas’ one-stop shop for all your residential and commercial HVAC needs. Our technicians are available 24/7 to help with any emergencies that arise. If you’re concerned about smells coming from your heater or want to know more about our maintenance and duct cleaning services, don’t hesitate to call!

 

We’re not comfortable until you are. Call Total Air today at 972-881-0020 to schedule the highest quality HVAC services in Northern Texas.

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