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Why Does My Heater Smell Like Something Is Burning?

Is your heater emitting a burning smell, and you’re wondering what could be the cause? Let’s break down what might be causing your heater to smell like something is burning.

Dust in The Heater

The most common source of a burning smell in a heater is dust buildup. If you turn off your heating unit during the warmer months, dust particles will accumulate on the heat exchanger, burners, ductwork, and other components of the unit. When you turn your heating unit on for the first time in a long time, the accumulated dust burns off and the burning smell passes through the air vents.

What you can do

The smell should fade after one or two heating cycles. If the smell doesn’t fade away or gets worse, turn your unit off and contact an HVAC company for help.

Electrical Problems

A burning electrical smell coming from your heater could be indicative of damaged or frayed electrical wiring. Typically, wiring issues can arise from incorrect installation, normal wear and tear, excessive vibration in the heater, contact with water, or a foreign object in the ductwork. In some cases, loose wires can come into contact and generate heat, resulting in the smell of a burning wire. If the wire’s insulation melts, your heater may emit a smell like burning plastic.

What You Can Do

Burning electrical components can be dangerous. If you notice a burning electrical smell that doesn’t go away after one or two heating cycles, do not hesitate to call a professional HVAC technician to troubleshoot your heating system and make repairs.

Dirty Air Filters

Your heater is equipped with filters whose purpose is to clean the air that circulates through your heating system. The filters can become clogged over time, especially if you don’t keep up with regular maintenance, resulting in a burning smell. Dirty air filters can also cause mold or mildew to grow inside your heating or ductwork, causing an unpleasant musty smell.

What you can do

If you detect an unpleasant musty smell coming from your heater, you should check your heating system for mold and mildew, and have the filters cleaned or replaced. It’s advisable to change the air filters every three months to maximize your heater’s performance. If the smell doesn’t go away after cleaning the filters, call a reliable HVAC company to inspect your unit and make the necessary repairs or replacement.

Debris in The Heating System

Sometimes plastic or rubber objects end up inside your heating system via the air vents. Whether it’s a misplaced pet’s toy, or small household items, these items can cause a burning smell when you turn on the unit.

What you can do

Try to locate the room where the smell is notably stronger and look inside the vent to see if there’s any debris or items that don’t belong there.

Anytime You Need AC Repair, Call Absolute HVAC Service!

Perhaps your heating system is emitting a burning smell, it’s time to replace air filters, or the unit has stopped working altogether. No matter the issue you may be facing, you can rely on Absolute HVAC Service to help you with AC repair and replacement.