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Heater Burning Smell: Why and What You Can Do

woman with her hands over the heater

Turning on your heater doesn’t happen that often in Florida. In fact, our “coldest month” is January, with an average low of 49 degrees during the night.

But when you do need to turn on your home’s heating system, you may be alarmed when your start experiencing a burning smell throughout your home. Is this an emergency? What’s happening? Do you need to call Cool Rays for a quick HVAC fix? We’ll be covering all this and more in today’s blog!

(Does your air conditioner smell funky when you turn it on? You’re looking for our guide to AC burning smells here!)

What Causes a Heater Burning Smell

When your heater or furnace smells like it’s burning, there can be a few causes. Most of them are not emergencies, but it’s good to know what’s happening and how to identify the problem. The most common cause of a burning smell is dust – but it could also be an old filter or an electrical issue. Let’s break this down.

You Have a Dusty Heater

Since we only turning our heating on seasonally, your HVAC system will collect dust on the burners or heat exchange. When you pop the thermostat onto “Heat,” this will cause the dust to burn off, creating an unpleasant burning odor for a few minutes until the dust is gone.

We have good news, though: This is nothing to worry about! The dust isn’t dangerous, and it should go away after about ten minutes. To keep this from happening, you can have your system cleaned seasonally to get rid of the dust beforehand.

If the smell continues after 10 minutes without getting better, then it’s time to call your favorite HVAC techs – it might be a different problem.

a dirty air filter next to  a clean one

Dirty Air Filters

If your furnace filter is old or hasn’t been changed since last season (yuck), it could definitely cause problems – including a burning or musty smell from clogged dust, debris, or mold.

Make sure to replace your filters regularly, especially if you’re turning on the system for the first time this season. If your filter is moldy, you may have mildew on other parts of the system as well – get a maintenance service call scheduled ASAP to professionally clean your system!

Electrical Issues

inside an electrical cable wire

Electrical issues tend to be a much bigger deal since they can cause house fires or prevent your system from working at all. Damaged wires or overheating parts are issues that need immediate attention. If you notice a burning smell that smells like melting plastic or rubber, turn off your system immediately and call your local heating company for help. You’ll need a thorough inspection and repair before you can get it up and running again. Don’t wait to take care of this problem!

Keeping Your Heating System Prepped for Winter

Do you know the secret to getting ready for the winter season in Florida? It’s seasonal maintenance! Not only does regular service keep your system prepped for temperature changes ahead – it also keeps your heating and cooling system efficient, reliable, and long-lasting! The best time to call for routine maintenance is the spring and the fall, so make sure you’re on the schedule to keep your system working it’s best around the clock.

It you’re ready to get your seasonal maintenance scheduled for the cold season, then it’s time to call Cool Rays AC! We also offer professional heating installations for incredible comfort all winter long.

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