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Johansen & Anderson Inc Blog

What’s That Smell from the Heater?

nose-smell-childThe heater has just started up again, and you’ve got a problem. There seems to be a smell coming directly from the vents. This can be a scary situation. Of course, if you have any cause to believe it’s a gas leak, you should turn off the system ASAP. Otherwise, the urgency of the issue can range quite a bit.

In some cases, there’s no cause for alarm when you notice a smell from the vents. Otherwise, you may need someone to investigate the heating system or the vents. Avoid this possibility with our maintenance services and call us if you do require heater repair!

Is it your first time starting it?

The first time you start your furnace in the fall, you’re likely to smell a bit of an electrical odor, or something that smells a bit like burning. This is completely normal! During the off-season, dust tends to settle on the burners of your heater. When you start it up again, that dust burns off, which is probably what you smell.

Give it about 20-30 minutes, and you likely won’t smell it anymore. After a few hours, however, you may begin to worry.

Still notice that burning smell?

There may be another type of foreign object lodged near the furnace burners or in the registers of your ventilation system. Just in case, it’s worth it to check behind registers or even the furnace itself to see that a child’s toy or another object has not become stuck.

Otherwise, an excessively dirty filter could be causing the problem. The dust from the filter likely isn’t at fault, so much as the fact that a dirty filter can block airflow and cause a furnace to overheat. Air filters must be changed every one to three months. If this doesn’t solve the problem, call a technician.

What about mildew?

This one may take you a while to notice. A musty smell may indicate a risk of respiratory infection due to the spread of mold, so don’t put off repairs if you need them. Mildew can develop for a couple of reasons.

One possible source is a humidifier that is not properly maintained. Otherwise condensation may be forming on the heater and failing to evaporate. More likely, condensation has come from the air conditioner and failed to properly drain, causing buildup within the ventilation system. You’ll need a professional technician to clean this.

Does it smell like rotten eggs?

A rotten egg smell is added to the natural gas supply by the utility company to make it easier to detect a potential leak. As you know, a gas leak is dangerous. Our recommendation is that you leave the home as soon as possible, although if there is time to turn off the heater, this is a good idea. Then, call the local utility company’s emergency line. Keep this number on hand in case you ever need it, and call our team if you need a new heating system.

Contact Johansen & Anderson Inc for heater repair in Bolingbrook, IL.

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