Is a Smelly Heater Dangerous?

Many things can cause your heater to have a strange smell when you turn it on, and not all of them are harmless. But before you spend hundreds of dollars fixing your system, you should try to identify the type of smell and what might be behind it.

Relatively Safe Smells

If your heater is giving off a musty scent or the smell of burning dust, there’s probably nothing wrong. These smells tend to come from debris trapped in the filter, moisture inside the unit, or dust buildup inside the unit. When it comes to the latter two, the heater will “burn off” the dust or moisture after being in use for a while, which should get your air quality back to normal. The initial smell can be remedied by changing the filter. If the smell persists despite changing the filter or letting the heater run for a day, however, you may need a new furnace and should contact a professional.

Smells That Point to a Problem

If you detect a chemical or electrical burning scent, there could be something more serious going on with your heater. One of its components, like the heat exchanger or vital wires, could be broken. Foreign objects that are stuck inside the unit or excessive heat are other possible causes. Both can lead to fires and should be addressed as soon as possible. Similar precautions should be taken for the smell of rotten eggs or smoke, which can come from a blocked chimney and may pose a serious health risk. If the scent is particularly unusual or potent, this may indicate that your heater needs to be replaced.

If your heater is giving off a worrying smell and needs to be checked, you can call on Steve Chapman’s All American Air to assess the problem for you. With over 40 years of service in the St. Augustine area, we provide a wide range of HVAC products and comprehensive services with nothing less than excellent customer support. Request an appointment today to diagnose your heater’s problems.