For the first time today or this season, the heat kicks on, and it smells like burning. It’s disconcerting because the first use of the season is when many heating systems fail or cause fires. Later in the season, homeowners wonder why if it’s a sign of an imminent issue. So, is this a panic-inducing problem or just a disturbing smell to get used to?
The first step is to identify the type of burning smell. This can help determine the severity of the issue and help HVAC technicians narrow down the problem. Like a doctor would ask the location and severity of pain, your heating professional will need to understand the source of the burning smell. It might just be dust, but it could be a bigger problem.
Does it smell like melting plastic or burning oil? This could indicate an issue as simple as a toy soldier caught in the heating vent or a dirty air filter. Does it smell like a hot cord or fireworks? Then it might be time to shut down the system and call a professional for assistance. Identifying the burning smell coming from your heating system is the first step to diagnosing the problem.
Why Does My House Smell Like Burning Plastic?
If the smell coming from the heater is like burning or melting plastic, it’s a good idea to shut down the system and search the vents visually for small toys, plastic caps, or other junk that may have fallen into an open vent.
Melting plastic can be highly toxic, so when you smell that coming from your heating system, it’s a good idea to open a window and get some fresh air in the house. Then search for the source. If a visual inspection of your heating vents doesn’t show the problem, it might be something more serious. It could be an indication that the motor on your heater is breaking down, or it could be trash that’s farther into your vent system. Either way, calling a professional like Tragar Home Services to clean the vents or to service the heater is the best option for your safety.
Can a Dirty Air Filter Cause the Burning Smell?
While inspecting your heating vents, take a good look at your air filters. Your system will likely have one or two air filters, usually on the return air intake, that take contaminants like dust out of the air before pumping it past the heating element and into your vents. If that filter is especially dirty or clogged, it can cause strain on the motor or let dust particles settle on the heating element, leading to that burning smell.
Can an Oil Leak Cause a Burning Smell?
If the burning smell is similar to a car engine or it smells like burning oil, it’s time to check with a professional immediately. While the cause of the smell could be something as simple as a clogged filter, it might be a sign of a significantly bigger problem.
Call the Heating Experts at Tragar Home Services
Whether it’s maintenance or repair, Tragar can take care of all your HVAC system needs. If you smell burning from your heating system, we can arrive quickly to identify and fix the problem. Tragar Home Services has been providing Long Island residents with 5-star service for over 60 years. Contact us by filling out our form or call us at (516) 221-2559. We’re standing by!