Every year, as the weather starts getting cooler, homeowners all over the greater San Antonio, TX area test their home heating systems to see that they are ready to meet the demands of the coming cold season. However, it’s common for homeowners to notice an odd burning smell when they first turn their heat on after it has not run for a while. Here’s everything you need to know about what that smell is, when to be concerned, and what to do about it.

The Source of the Burning Smell

In most cases, it’s normal for you to notice a slight burning smell when you turn on your furnace. This is especially true when you haven’t used it for months. The smell is usually the result of dust that’s accumulated in your furnace that is burning away. It’s not dangerous, and it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong.

This burning smell should go away after your heat runs for a few minutes. Then, the smell should fade as your furnace cycles fresh air through your home.

You should know, however, that dust buildup inside your furnace may be an indication that you need to replace your furnace air filter. This is something you need to do roughly every three months. If you live with many people or pets, you will need to change your filter more often. Regularly changing your filter keeps dust out of your furnace and enhances the air quality in your home.

When to Be Concerned

There are a couple of situations when a burning smell coming from your furnace should concern you. First, if there’s any noticeable smoke coming from your furnace or vents, you should shut off your furnace immediately and open your windows. A burning smell resulting from dust accumulation shouldn’t come with smoke. Smoke is a sign of a more significant problem that can quickly become dangerous if you ignore it.

The burning smell also shouldn’t persist for more than a few minutes. So, if you turn on your furnace and you notice a burning smell that doesn’t go away relatively quickly, don’t ignore it. It may mean that a foreign object or something other than dust is the source of the burning smell. An electrical problem may also be the cause.

Other Smells to Watch Out For

Burning smells aren’t the only odors you might notice coming from your furnace if it hasn’t run for a while. You might also notice a musty smell that is the result of mold or mildew buildup somewhere in your heating system. Mold and mildew are serious, as they can make you sick if you are exposed to them for a long time. You and your family can develop serious illnesses, such as respiratory conditions, cognitive issues, and even death.

Mold and mildew require immediate attention from a professional. This problem may be easily remedied by simply cleaning your condensate line or having a professional clean your furnace. However, a more serious infestation may require the help of a mold remediation specialist.

Additionally, if you have gas heat and notice a rotten egg smell when you turn on your furnace, turn it off immediately, and get away from your home. Call 911, and then call an HVAC professional. This smell can be the result of a natural gas leak, which requires professional attention straight away.

It is also serious if you notice any kind of chemical smell coming from your furnace because this can happen when your furnace’s heat exchanger fails. Turn off your furnace, and schedule a furnace repair appointment immediately.

Your Trusted Local Heating Experts

If you turn on the heat in your San Antonio-area home and notice any unusual smells that don’t go away right away, don’t take any chances. Call for a visit from one of our expert HVAC technicians. They’ll find the underlying cause of your problem and fix it fast. We’ve served Cuero, Gonzales, Seguin, Schertz, Cibolo, and surrounding areas for over 45 years, are Better Business Bureau accredited, and have an A+ rating.

For all your heating repair and maintenance needs in the greater San Antonio area, call GVEC Air Conditioning & Heating today.

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