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Why Does My Furnace Smell When I Start It Up?

Furnace Burning Smell | Cincinnati | Nelson Comfort

The smell of fall is in the air. Pumpkin spice, apple cider, and…. a burning smell coming from your furnace? When that first chill hits, homeowners turn on the furnace and may catch a whiff of something unpleasant coming through their vents.

If you smell a burning scent when you fire up your furnace for the first time this fall, don’t be alarmed. This is actually quite normal. Dust can settle on your heating elements when they’re not in use during the summer months. When you turn on your furnace for the first time, the dust will burn off, producing this scent.

If the smell bothers you, open your windows or use your attic fan to ventilate your home. You can reduce the amount of dust affecting your furnace by keeping the surrounding area clean and using a clean furnace filter.

While the burning smell after your furnace is used for the first time isn’t a cause for concern, some other furnace smells are. The furnace smells mentioned below indicate the need for service; if you smell them, turn off your furnace and call for assistance.

  • Electrical and metallic smells may mean furnace components are overheating or burning. In some cases, your furnace may shut itself down to protect against overheating.
  • A rotten egg smell from the furnace can indicate a gas leak. If you smell this, you should open windows and leave your home immediately, while also calling your gas company.
  • Musty smells coming from your furnace can be a sign that mold or mildew is growing in your system, which should be attended to by a professional.

If you have any worries about a strange furnace smell, give Nelson Comfort a call; our technicians will be happy to inspect and diagnose your furnace issues to keep you safe and comfortable this heating season.

About The Author


Dan Detmer

Dan Detmer is the owner of Nelson Comfort. Dan was born into the heating and cooling industry, coming from a family of well respected HVAC contractors in Dayton, Ohio. After working in the family business, Dan decided to work for a local HVAC wholesale business helping local contractors grow their business. When he felt his heart moving him back into the residential and light commercial business, Dan joined the Mortimer Heating & Cooling team in Cincinnati, where he had called home and become part of the community for several years. After a short period of time Dan purchased the company and created what is today, Nelson Comfort. Today he operates a company based on integrity, honesty, and stellar customer service. If you have any questions feel free to tweet (at sign) NelsonComfort and we will get right back with you!

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