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Air Conditioning Checking

Why Does My Heater Smell Like It’s Burning?

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Although you may not need to use your heater much during the winter months in Central Florida, it’s nice to know that you can rely on your heating system during the occasional cold front. But after sitting dormant for months at a time, you may notice an unexpected and unpleasant surprise when you turn on your heater for the first time. While a burning smell coming from your electric heater, furnace, or heat pump is common (and normally not a cause for alarm), you don’t have to live with a less-than-pleasant burning odor. If your heater smells like it’s burning, here are three potential culprits.

Burning Flame

1. Heater Smells Like: Burning Dust

Accumulated dust is the most common source of a burning smell from your heater. Whether you operate an electric heater, furnace, or heat pump, a system that has remained dormant can accumulate dust and other particles from the air supply in your home. When the heating system is turned on, these materials burn up, causing that short-lived burning dust smell. While you don’t need to contact the fire department, you should take a look just to be sure that there isn’t another source of the smell. You may notice that as the system completes a heating cycle, the odor fades. If it continues after one or two heating cycles, consider contacting an HVAC technician for help.

2. Heater Smells Like: Burning Plastic or Burning Rubber

In some cases, rubber, plastic, or other materials end up inside of the ductwork via the air vents. If you smell a burning plastic smell or burning rubber smell that is not consistent throughout your house, try to isolate the location. Inspect the air vents in the area that has a strong burning odor to make sure that there isn’t an obstruction. Just make sure you don’t close your vents because this can affect the balance of your HVAC system and reduce its efficiency. If this doesn’t remedy the burning smell, contact an experienced HVAC technician for help.

3. Heater Smells Like: Electric Burning

Although wiring issues aren’t common, if your heater emits an electrical burning smell, it could be indicative of an electrical problem. If the burning smell does not ebb after one or two heating cycles, it could be a serious issue that requires professional troubleshooting, so don’t wait to call a trained HVAC technician.

Residential Air Conditioning Services in Central Florida

Fortunately, if there’s a burning smell coming from your heater, there’s usually no reason to worry—but if you need the assistance of an experienced HVAC company, turn to Energy Air. We offer comprehensive HVAC services that can help minimize your risk of dealing with that unpleasant burning smell. Give us a call today to learn how we can help or schedule an appointment online.

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