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Noticing a weird smell when you turn on your heater? Signs of Heater Maintenance or Repair

Noticing a weird smell when you turn on your heater? Signs of Heater Maintenance or Repair

Heater Maintenance or Repair and the Signs to Watch

Heater Maintenance. Our blog post on what to do if your heater smells like burning, or gives off strange smells, will walk you through:

  • What the different odors your heater gives off may indicate
  • Other warning signs that your heater needs maintenance
  • Why getting regular maintenance can prevent larger issues

We’ve all had that moment where we turn on our heater, and something just seems off. Our nose picks up a weird smell in the house, and it’s hard to tell from where exactly it is coming. At best, these strange odors may just be something obnoxious you have to deal with. At worst, though, it could be a troubling sign that something has gone awry with your heater.

Knowing what these strange smells indicate can help you know what exactly has gone wrong with your heater. It can also help your professional HVAC maintenance team know where to look when assessing the problem and working to resolve it.

Heater Maintenance: Weird Smells You Might Notice When Turning on Your Heater

As temperatures begin to drop and Phoenix residents turn on their heater for the first time in a couple of seasons, they may notice something smells off. Not all smells mean that you’re in for a significant repair pair, and, indeed, some odors may dissipate by themselves with some time.

So, it’s important to know what smells to expect from your heater. It’s also helpful to know what they indicate and whether they mean it’s time to call the trusted HVAC maintenance team at AccuTemp.

Dusty or Burning Smell

Perhaps the most common scent whiffed by those turning on their heater is a dusty or burning scent. No doubt, this odor can be troubling, as we attribute burning odors to fire and disaster.

However, in the case of the burning smell coming from your heater, this odor may not mean disaster. Indeed, it’s normal to smell a dusty, burning scent when you turn on your heater for the first time.

That’s because, during the spring and summer months, when your heater is not likely to be in use, dust and dirt can accumulate on the various components of your heating system. When you turn on the heater, the dust and dirt will burn and produce that common odor.

As you use your heater regularly, though, the odor should go away. Often, the scent will go away after a single use of the heater.

Electrical Burning Smell

Not all burning smells are created equally. While a dusty burning odor is common and nothing to be too concerned about, and electrical burning smell is a sign of a major issue and deserving of immediate attention.

An electrical burning smell indicates that your heating system may be dealing with a failing motor or frayed wires. A failing motor will need to be fixed for your heating system to continue to work. Frayed wires, though, could lead to a dangerous and disastrous electrical fire.

So, if you smell an electrical burning smell when you turn on your heater, turn it off and call an HVAC maintenance team immediately.

Musty or Mildew Smell

While no one wants their home to smell like dirty socks, a musty, mildew smell isn’t necessarily a sign of a major issue with your heating system. The smell is the result of a buildup of bacteria within the heating system. This can be common if you haven’t used your heating system in a while.

If you have a furnace, the smell should go away quickly. A furnace will reach an internal temperature that kills off any bacteria. This removes the source of the smell, and you shouldn’t have any issues until winter comes around again.

If you have a heat pump, though, the system isn’t designed to reach high temperatures; it works by transferring heat where it’s needed. This means the temperature doesn’t reach bacteria-killing levels and, instead, hovers around the temperature that’s ideal for breeding bacteria. So, if your heat pump is giving a musty, mildew smell, make sure to call HVAC professionals to come to inspect and clean the refrigerant coils.

Sulfur or Rotten Eggs Smell

Of all the smells your heating system can give off, a sulfur or rotten eggs smell is the most concerning. This odor usually only comes from gas furnaces, and it means that you may be experiencing a gas leak. That puts you at the risk of dealing with a fire or even a dangerous explosion should the gas meet a single spark.

If you smell sulfur or rotten eggs when turning on your gas furnace, your home should be evacuated. Do not turn on or off any lights, as the circuitry could spark, and call 911 or your natural gas utility company.

Other Telltale Signs You Need Your Heating System Checked Out

Of course, an odd smell isn’t the reason to have your heating system checked out. There are a variety of other symptoms that may mean that your furnace or heat pump isn’t working as it should. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s a good idea to call a trusted HVAC maintenance company to assess the situation.

Your Home Isn’t Getting Warm Enough

Your heater is supposed to keep your house warm. If your house isn’t warm, or if you notice uneven temperatures throughout your residence, then something is wrong.

This symptom, unfortunately, doesn’t offer a real diagnosis without a deeper inspection. So, you should reach out to HVAC professionals to take a look and see what’s wrong. Otherwise, in those rare instances when the temperature in Phoenix drops below freezing, you may have to force your family to huddle in a single room for warmth.

The Heater is Making Weird Sounds

Just like with the many odors your heater could give off, several odd sounds may indicate that something is wrong with your heater. Each sound is a symptom of a different issue, so you should try to keep an ear out for these common heater-related noises:

  • Banging or knocking is sometimes a sign of bad bearings or a damaged belt
  • Rattling could mean the blower assembly or motor is malfunctioning.
  • Squealing may mean an issue with the motor bearings

Your Energy Bills Are Going Up

While the price of energy is going up, if you’re receiving utility bills that far exceed what you expect, it could be a sign that your heating system is having an issue. Heaters don’t last forever, and if you’ve had your heating system for at least a decade, you may be nearing the end of its lifecycle. This will make your system increasingly inefficient as it stumbles towards its end-of-life phase.

Get Your Heating System Inspected by an Experienced HVAC Company

If you’re experiencing any issues with your heating system, it’s important to get it checked out by HVAC professionals as soon as possible. At AccuTemp, we’ve been helping residents of the Valley of the Sun since 1981 with their heating and cooling needs. We can quickly assess and repair the situation or conduct preventative maintenance that helps prevent small issues from turning into much costlier ones.

Call AccuTemp Refrigeration in Phoenix today at 602-957-3745 to set up an appointment.

Featured Image: Ivan Kruk/Shutterstock

Call us today at 602-957-3745