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Why Does My Furnace Smell

Have you ever turned on your furnace and noticed a strange smell? If so, don’t be alarmed, at least not just yet. Older furnaces are notorious for omitting unusual scents. Now while some smells can be normal or a sign to look at your unit, others can be harmful. Here are the top 3 okay and not okay smells coming from your unit.





When you seem to smell a more chemical scent, this is the biggest sign of a crack in your heat exchanger. The heat exchangers’ job is to take the heat out of the combustion chamber and out of your home. This could be very harmful in the ways of easily catching the home on fire or even letting carbon monoxide into the home. For this reason, make sure that your carbon monoxide detector always has working batteries. Maybe before you turn on your furnace, change out those batteries!

Electrical Burning Smell

The electrical wires inside your unit can be very close together and at times, may even become undone. If you smell an electrical smell, it could mean your unit is overheating, or the wires are tangled up, not allowing them to do their job correctly. The wires are next to metal that could make them heat up and catch on fire. Make sure if you have any signs of this to the turn off your unit and call a professional.


This is probably the worst smell you could have come from your furnace. Having smoke coming from your unit could mean only one thing, a blocked chimney. When they are blocked, there is nowhere else for the smoke from the pilot light to go, so then it makes its way into your home. You will need to turn your furnace off immediately and call a professional. If the smoke smell is very faint, you can maybe open some windows and then call, but we advise you to leave your home and get to safety.




Burning Dusty Smell

While your furnace is not being used in the summer, it’s easy for your units to become dusty. This is the most common call we get in when a unit is not running correctly. You will need first to find where your filter is located and either change it or try to clean it off

If you continue to run your unit, it can lead from something small to something bigger. Don’t put off simple smells because it may mean that no air being able to reach the unit.

Oil Smell

When smelling oil, it only means you need to change your filter. It is most likely clogged and needs to be replaced. Most HVAC companies carry filters of your size or home depo. If after changing the filter the smell continues, call a professional before moving forward.

Musty Smell

It is normal after turning on your unit after months of it being off to smell musty. You might need to clean off your unit just before turning it on in the future. Now, if the smell continues, you will need to need to let a professional check your unit for mold. If your air seems damper and smells, this is the biggest sign of mold. Having mold run through your vents can be very toxic and is not a job for just anyone to clean up.


If you have any more concerns beyond what is above or have more questions, please make sure to give Pickerington Heating and Cooling at (614) 837-4026 or visit our website at www.pickheat.com. Thank you, and have a great rest of your day!