Serving Albuquerque, NM and Surrounding Areas

First Rate Plumbing Heating and Cooling Inc Blog

These Smells Shouldn’t Be Coming From Your Furnace

Feb 20, 2023


Your furnace is supposed to warm your house, and while that may come with a few whiffs of heat or burning dust every now and again, it shouldn’t be described as an “odor.” If there’s a rotten smell coming from your furnace, it’s not normal.

If you need furnace repair in Rio Rancho, NM, you should also know what that repair will entail. While an odor can’t tell every possible problem, it indicates that something is wrong and needs your attention.

Let’s talk about the different smells that can come from your furnace and what they mean.


Plastic Burning Smell

You know what has plastic in your furnace? The wiring. The casing on your wires are made of plastic, and if they’re burning, there’s an electrical issue afoot.

When the plastic begins to create a bad smell, it’s both really bad, and not as bad as you think. It’s not fire, so that’s good, but it’s definitely a precursor to an electrical fire.

The wires overheat, then begin to melt the plastic casing, releasing chemicals into the air (that’s what you’re smelling). But since it’s not on fire yet, take it as a warning shot.

Shut down your furnace, because right now it’s a ticking time bomb. This smell is a huge red flag and a safety problem.

Odor of Rotten Eggs

Your gas provider puts a chemical in the gas they send your way. Actually, they do it to all the gas they use, and it’s for a good reason.

Gas is colorless and odorless. You don’t see it, smell it, or know it’s there until it’s too late. That chemical makes you smell something, so you can know that there’s a problem with your gas lines (or the fridge went out in the middle of the night and your groceries are useless, but that one’s pretty easy to rule out).

Gas leaks can quickly become lethal. Contact an HVAC technician for an emergency call and get out of the house–you should never mess around with gas leaks in any capacity.

Dusty Burning Smell

If you haven’t used your furnace in a little while, it’s reasonable to assume that the first time you turn it on, you’re just burning away dust. There’s a lot of debris that gathers in your ductwork throughout the summer.

Your AC pushes dust through the ductwork if it passes through the air intake filter, and some of that sticks around. It builds up, then the heat of your furnace burns it off, producing a notably bad odor.

This is normal, at least at first. If you notice this smell for 2-3 hours after you turn your furnace on, and it’s the first time you turned it on this season, don’t be concerned. It should dissipate.

But if it doesn’t go away, or if it’s not the first time you’ve turned on the furnace recently, then there’s cause for concern that a technician will have to check out.

Odors Are Like Canaries in a Coal Mine

Bad odors coming from your furnace are warning signs. Your furnace still works, but for how much longer? When is it going to break down?

That’s up for a technician to find out when you open up your furnace, find what’s causing the odor, and propose a course of action.

Contact First Rate Plumbing Heating and Cooling Inc to schedule repair for your furnace as soon as possible. Quality work, exuberant service.

Categories: Heating