Effective and efficient heating may not be a concern of yours during the warmer seasons. However, once temperatures start to drop in the beginning of fall, you will turn your furnace on to start heating. Certain sounds and odors are completely normal when you first start heating your home.

You may hear a banging or popping sound as the pilot light is first lit. In addition, you may smell a burning odor that lasts for a short period of time after the furnace first starts heating.

Unfortunately, odors that linger could be a cause of concern, especially since heating equipment is the second highest cause of house fires. This guide and your heating contractor will help you understand and deal with common furnace odors that linger.


Dusty Odor

Dirt and dust can be a problem when heating your home because they can build up inside your furnace, ductwork, and filters during the cooling season.

As the combustion chamber ignites to start heating, the dirt and dust is burned off, flowing through the ductwork and eventually into your home.

Most experts recommend having the furnace and evaporator coil of your heating and cooling system cleaned before the heating season begins. This ensures all dust and debris is removed from the combustion chamber before it is burned off after starting the furnace.

A dusty odor may also stem from a clogged furnace filter because dirt, dust, and other allergens will flow through the ductwork and into your home along with the heated air.

If the filters are clogged with dirt and dust, conditioned air will not flow efficiently into your home. This not only leads to dusty air quality, but it also increases heating costs. Replace your furnace filter every three to six month.


Rotten Eggs

An odor that smells like rotten eggs is most likely sulfur, which indicates you have a significant gas leak. Gas leaks could stem from a variety of issues, so having your system addressed by a licensed contractor is imperative.

A crack in the furnace’s heat exchanger is one of the most common causes of a gas leak. Made out of metal, the heat exchanger is designed to be durable and last at least the lifespan of a furnace. Unfortunately, the metal is not made to last forever.

If your furnace is not sized properly for your home and climate, the heat exchanger will need to work harder, placing more stress on the metal, which can lead to cracks and gas leaks.

Overusing your furnace can also damage the heat exchanger in time. The constant on and off your furnace will wear the heat exchanger’s metal. This wear causes the metal to expand, contract, and possibly crack and leak gas into the home.

Finally, insufficient maintenance on your furnace may decrease the lifespan of your heat exchanger. Make sure to change filters regularly and have your furnace inspected and tuned-up by professionals before each heating season.

If you smell rotten eggs in your home, exit your house immediately. Exposure to natural gas may cause the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Eye irritation
  • Nasal irritation
  • Breathing issues
  • Skin rashes and blisters

Seek out emergency medical care if you exhibit the above symptoms after noticing the sulfur odor. Without proper medical care, exposure to natural gas can be life-threatening.


Burning Odor

Again, a burning or metallic smell when you first start up your furnace is normal. However, if this burning smell lingers, the furnace may be overheating.

Most furnaces are designed to shut themselves down if they overheat. An electrical or mechanical issue may prevent this safety feature from working properly. The burning metallic smell may also indicate frayed wiring.

No matter what the cause, you should shut off all power to your furnace to prevent a potential house fire. Then contact your heating contractor to inspect the furnace.

For more information on diagnosing these common furnace odors or to schedule maintenance on your system, contact Lakeside Heating & Air Conditioning today.