In the Sunshine State, we don’t get the pleasure of using our heaters all that often, but with a cold front expected next week, many residents will rely on their heating systems to take off the chill. After sitting dormant for months, residents may notice an unpleasant odor when the heat is turned on for the fist time. There are different types of smells, some which are harmless, while others should not be ignored. To help determine what’s normal and what’s not, take a look at three of the most common “just turned on the heat smells”.
Accumulated dust is the most common source of a burning smell from your heater. Any system that has sat idle for months can collect dust and other particles from the air supply, when the heat is turned on, these materials burn up. This causes a short-lived burning dust smell. After the system completes a heating cycle, the odor should fade, if it continues after one or two heating cycles, try replacing the air filter.
If the heater emits a burning plastic smell or burning rubber smell, this usually means a foreign object, such as a toy, has found its way into your heating system or ductwork. The smell will more than likely be isolated to a certain location. Inspect the air vents in the area that has a strong odor to make sure there isn’t an obstruction. If an object is found and removed, this should remedy the burning smell, if not you will need to call your property manager or HVAC technician for help.
The smell of electrical burning could be frayed or damaged electrical wiring or a sign of an overheated blower motor. This is the least common of the three causes the unpleasant smell, but one that could require professional troubleshooting. Normally as a safety measure, the heating system will shut itself off if it overheats, however if something is malfunctioning, it may continue to operate. If the electrical burning smell persist after one or two heating cycles, turn the system off and call a professional.