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Does Your Furnace Smell?

Funky Furnace Fumes? It May Not Be What You Think.

heater smells massachusettsWhether your furnace smells weird is not exactly the best measure for gauging if something is wrong with the heater. That’s because not all smells are created equal, when it comes to furnace health, and some odors can be hard to pinpoint. Read on to learn more about what kinds of smells are to be expected occasionally, and which smells are red flags for a bigger problem.

Common Furnace Smells

There are a number of common smells you may discover wafting from your furnace, such as:

  • Musty, dusty, burning metallic smells: This is one of the most common smells people complain about, but the good news is that it is usually just “Dusty Furnace Phenomenon.” This typically happens at the beginning of the season when the heater is just kicking into gear, and it may happen annually. Dust that has settled throughout the spring and summer is getting rustled up and re-activated by the blowing heat. Once your furnace has been running for a bit, the smell should dissipate as the dirt essentially “burns” off.
  • Chemical or plastic burning odor: This type of burning smell is much more serious. It could be an electrical problem involving the melting of wire coatings, or your fan motor may be overheating. You will definitely want to contact a professional energy expert to examine your system.
  • Sulpher or rotten egg smell: This is the hallmark odor added to natural gas to alert folks of gas leaks, since this nontoxic gas is typically odorless. If you smell this skunky odor in your home or coming from your vents, consider it an emergency. Gas could be leaking from either a damaged heat exchanger or the gas line itself. If you can safely and quickly do so, turn off the furnace and leave the home for a safe location to call 911. Needham energy experts have decades of experience repairing gas and oil heating systems, and we’re here for you.
  • Moldy or wet fumes: Traditional furnaces don’t usually create condensation, but it’s possible under certain conditions, or if you have a boiler, for moisture to get into the heating system. If you live in a very humid area, have recently experienced flooding, or have a mold problem in your home, it’s a good idea to be on the lookout for indications that your system may need to be professionally cleaned and dehumidified. You don’t want your family breathing in moldy, damp air, which can easily carry pathogens and cause respiratory problems.

    Without an air purification system, you and your family may well be breathing in airborne contaminants such as dust, pollen, pet dander and mold spores. The good news is that these problems can be greatly reduced by having Needham Oil Complete Heating & Cooling install a whole-house humidifier, which can deliver the ideal amount of moisture into your indoor air – rather than into your ductwork, where moisture doesn’t belong.

  • Sour or foul smell: Unfortunately, this could indicate a pest problem. Rodents, squirrels, roaches and other small pests are determined chewers and acrobats who can find their way into your ductwork. Once there, they deposit their smelly waste, and sometimes die and decay (There’s nothing for them to eat or drink in your ductwork, after all.) It’s certainly NOT what you want blowing all over your home. While gross, there’s no need to be embarrassed. This problem is easily addressed by our heating professionals who deal with it all the time.

Needham Oil Complete Can Help You Breathe Easier

Whether your system needs a repair or just a good cleaning, we can help with our affordable and upfront, no-surprise prices. We charge you by the job in Middlesex County and Norfolk County, MA., not by the hour. This billing procedure is based on an industry-approved flat-rate price book, which lists competitive prices for every possible repair. That way, we can tell you exactly how much your repair will cost before we start the job, so you can accept or decline the repair.

For added savings and peace of mind, take a look at our oil and gas service plans, which offer full or partial coverage on parts and labor. They include maintenance plans that help prevent breakdowns and extend the life of your equipment. Become a customer today, and we’ll get your furnace smelling fresh and working its best.