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Furnace FAQ: What’s That Smell?

We’ve still got a few hot days ahead of us, but temperatures are definitely starting to drop — especially at night! As we welcome chilly air back into our nights and, before long, our days, you are going to start turning to your furnace more and more for comfort. If you fire up your furnace for the first time this year to take the chill out of the air, only to find that it is emitting a strange odor, contact us right away.

There are a few reasons as to why your furnace may be smelling strange, especially at the start of the heating season. They vary in terms of seriousness, but working with a trained professional to get to the root of the problem is always the right move. Call today if you have any concerns at all about the condition and operation of your furnace in Des Moines, IA.

  • Dust burning off. While you are probably diligent in keeping your home free of dust and dirt by running the vacuum on occasion, we’re betting that you don’t dust out the interior of furnace’s combustion chamber or its electric heating elements very often. While your maintenance technician will clean these areas out during routine maintenance service, there is more than enough downtime throughout the off-season for dust to build up therein or thereupon. When that happens, the dust may burn off when you first start up your furnace come the heating season.
  • Gas leaks. Far more serious than a little dust burning up is the issue of gas leaks. Natural gas is odorless in its natural state. As a safety precaution, however, it has an additive that gives it its signature sulfuric odor, reminiscent of rotten eggs. If you smell this odor when running your furnace, shut it off, exit the house, and contact the proper authorities regarding the potential leak.
  • Melting plastic odors. Another potentially serious issue may be brought to your attention with an odor of burning plastic coming from your vents. It’s possible that electric wiring casings are melting off, indicating a serious problem. You may also just have a foreign object in your ductwork. Whatever the case may be, we can get to the bottom of the situation and will resolve the problem entirely.

Let Schaal Heating and Cooling help you to heat your home both effectively and safely this heating season.

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