What’s That Smell? The Odors that Could Signal Trouble from Your Furnace 1

What’s That Smell? The Odors that Could Signal Trouble from Your Furnace

If a weird smell is wafting through your home, it might be a signal that something is very, very wrong with your furnace. If you leave this problem untreated and act like the smell will simply go away, you could be facing a hefty repair bill or worse, health problems.


Know the odors that could signal trouble ahead. Here are four smells that could indicate trouble


Burning DustDust


This one’s fairly common, and comes around after a period of disuse – say, when you’re starting it up for the first time after the summer. It’s not unusual for the furnace to burn off the dust that’s settled on some components, so don’t be too alarmed if this smell is hitting your olfactory nerves for the first time.


If it doesn’t go away, though, check your air filter and replace it if needed. If that doesn’t work, call us for a service – it could need a deep cleaning, some repair work, or even a replacement if it’s a very old unit.




If you’re noticing a metallic odor in the air – and this is one that you don’t get often, so you will notice it – it could mean there are components that are overheating inside the HVAC. Often times, there are protective measures that shut off the furnace if something gets too hot, so if the electric smell coincides with a loss in service, call for service immediately. Scratch that – if you notice any metallic or electrical smells at all, call for service!


The metallic smells probably indicate that parts are burning due to wear and tear; old rubber and metal components will deteriorate over time. These repairs aren’t too costly or invasive, but are necessary for the safety of your furnace, home, and family!




Identify the kind of smoke you’re smelling; if it smells like a burning odor rather than, say, recirculated tobacco smoke, it’s better to turn off your HVAC system even if you haven’t pinpointed an actual fire yet. It could be internal, and you’ll save yourself a lot of damage. Call your technician immediately!


Don’t try to identify it yourself or solve the problem, unless you also happen to be an HVAC professional. It could be a minor oil leak, damage to the furnace, or indicate an object that shouldn’t be there.


Rotten Eggs


If you’re smelling rotten eggs, turn off the gas and your furnace immediately and call your gas company! The smell of rotten eggs, or sulfur, almost always indicates a problem with the gas line. The smell doesn’t come from natural gas, which on its own is odorless, but is the product of an additive called mercaptan, which gives the gas a smell which you can identify. It helps you notice a gas leak ASAP.


A general word of advice: don’t sit on weird smells! If you’re noticing any of these four odors, or anything else coming from the vicinity of your HVAC system, follow the aforementioned directions and give us a call! We’ll identify the problem and ensure that any fix provides you peace of mind.

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