Furnace smells should always be taken seriously, even though many will turn out to be innocuous. A gas-fired furnace produces a flame that exceeds 1,000 degrees and utilizes a powerful electric blower to circulate a large volume of hot air through your home’s ductwork. In addition, the combustion process in the furnace generates a number of by-products, including deadly carbon monoxide gas. Some furnace odors can indicate malfunctions in these critical systems and require the attention of an HVAC professional. Here are three suspicious furnace smells you shouldn’t ignore:
Leaking gas. The familiar “rotten egg” odor that indicates the presence of natural gas is an immediate emergency. There are no furnace malfunctions that allow unburned gas to escape that can be considered harmless. If the smell of gas is present, immediate action must be taken. Open doors and windows, and evacuate all residents from the home. Stand away from the house and call 9-1-1 first, then your gas company.
Overheated electrical components or wiring. A furnace blower motor may begin to bind or seize up due to worn bearings. This can cause the motor to draw excessive voltage and heat up dramatically. In addition to the hot motor, overheated wires may melt insulation and produce an electrical short hazard as well as a pungent “electrical” smell throughout the home. Turn off the furnace at the thermostat and call an HVAC professional to evaluate the odor.
Chemical aroma. Odors that resemble formaldehyde can be serious and may indicate a cracked heat exchanger. When the heat exchanger that transfers heat from the combustion chamber to the furnace plenum cracks, dangerous carbon monoxide fumes can enter the ductwork and circulate through the home. Treat the smell of formaldehyde or other chemical smells with respect and get an inspection from an HVAC technician before continuing to operate the furnace.
Paitson Bros. Heating & Air Conditioning keeps Wabash Valley homeowners comfortable and safe through all seasons. Call us for immediate service anytime you notice unexplained furnace smells.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Terre Haute, Indiana about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about Furnace Smells and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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