man inspecting air vent

Help! My Furnace Turned On, and I Smelled Something Burning

Generally, when you use your furnace, you shouldn’t detect any kind of strange smell. Because of this, many homeowners are alarmed when they smell a “burning” odor after turning on their heating system for the first time in the fall.

99 percent of the time, there is no cause for panic. Below, we’ll explain what can make that burning smell and when to call a technician for help.

The Burning Smell When You First Turn On Your Furnace

Your furnace might seem like it’s protected away in your attic or utility closet. However, both its internal and external components gather a lot of dirt and dust throughout the year. It can form a layer over the burners, flame sensor, motor, air ducts, fan belt—you name it.

Then, when you eventually turn your furnace on in the fall, that layer of dust burns off. This can produce a burning smell for the first hour or so when you first fire up your furnace for the season.

Is this a problem? Mostly no. As long as that burning smell goes away within an hour, there’s no cause for immediate concern. However, the odor does mean that your furnace had quite a bit of dust to burn off, which means your furnace could probably use some preventative maintenance to avoid any issues later in the season.

What If the Burning Smell Doesn’t Go Away?

As mentioned above, that burning odor should go away in about an hour. If it doesn’t, double-check that you have a clean air filter in your system and that it’s facing the right direction. A dust-clogged or incorrectly-placed air filter will block airflow into your furnace and make it struggle to perform. This can cause the components to overheat and produce a burning smell.

If the air filter isn’t the issue, it’s time to call an HVAC technician to inspect your furnace. Troubleshooting a burning smell typically requires professional experience because there can be any number of causes:

  • The fan motor may be overheating.
  • Something might have fallen inside your furnace and has started to melt or burn.
  • Electrical components could be overheating, which can cause wires to burn and melt.

For trustworthy furnace repairs in Arlington, Texas, count on the experts at Tom's Mechanical, Inc.. Give us a call at (972) 388-3669 or contact us online today!

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