Is It Normal for a Furnace to Smell?

Posted: September 16, 2019

Furnace smell

Fall is fast approaching, and before you know it you’re going to be relying on your furnace every day to keep your family safe and warm in your Central Maine home.

If your furnace has been maintained by a heating system expert over the years – including this year – it will more than likely do its job without incident. But sometimes, especially if you’ve fallen behind on routine heating maintenance, your furnace will give you warning signs of a coming problem – and those signs will often come in the form of odd smells.

Strange odors emanating from your furnace can indicate a several problems; some are easy to fix, some are more problematic. Here are four common furnace odors and what they mean for your heating equipment:

  1. Dusty/burning smell – A dusty, burning smell coming from your furnace can be quite common, especially early in the heating season; the smell is often the result of your furnace burning away dust and dirt that has accumulated during the offseason. If dust is the cause, the burning smell should go away after few hours. If it doesn’t, try replacing your air filter (which you should do at the beginning of the season anyway) before you call us for service.
  2. Electrical / burning wire smells – Electrical smells coming from your furnace are typically a sign of overheating. If your furnace is cycling (turning on and off) for no apparent reason, it could be your equipment protecting itself from a more substantial (and costly) breakdown. Give your furnace a rest for a few hours; if the problem returns when you fire it up again, contact us for service.
  3. Mechanical smells – Worn out rubber and grinding metal parts produce a similar odor to electrical overheating (imagine the smell the wheels make when a train brakes). These smells can indicate a serious problem that needs immediate attention; shut your heating system down and call a heating expert right away.
  4. Rotten egg smell – In most cases, a rotten egg smell coming from your propane furnace indicates that you have a gas leak; if you do, follow these procedures immediately:
    • Avoid touching any equipment that could cause a spark (lights or light switches, appliances, telephones, cell phones, etc.); a spark can cause an explosion.
    • Get everyone (including pets) out of your house immediately and call 911 from a safe distance away.
    • If it is safe to do so, turn off the propane gas at the tank; if you don’t know how to do this, ask us – it’s important information to know.
    • When inspection teams say it is safe to return to your home, do so – but do not use your propane equipment again until it is inspected by a professional.

Having furnace trouble? We can help! Our licensed, bonded Murray-Heutz technicians will get your equipment repaired quickly and do the job right so you can enjoy reliable heating service all season long. If your heating equipment needs to be replaced, we can help you there, too, with expert high efficiency heating system installations anywhere in our Androscoggin County service area.