It’s been unseasonably cold all over the USA this week, so you’ve likely turned the heat on already. One of the most common things that happens when you turn the heat back on is a musty, dusty burning smell when you turn the heat on for the first time in a few months. While these burning odors are not necessarily a fire hazard, they are unpleasant and can be irritating to people with asthma or allergies.
Where Does the Burning Smell Come From?
The burning smell is usually from dirt and dust that accumulates in air vents, registers, and the furnace itself. If it smells musty, it can be sign that mold has grown in air ducts. Make sure you call a professional if you suspect mold in your air ducts.
Make sure to check any floor registers to make sure that no plastic items are sitting on the vents. It is common for children’s plastic toys or other small plastic items to melt if they sit on hot air registers too long.
When Will the Smell Go Away?
The burning furnace smell usually goes away within a couple of hours, but can linger for a couple days depending on the amount of dust. If the smell gets too bad, open the windows and let the odor dissipate. Keep the heater running through this to get the smell out as quickly as possible. If the odors linger for a long time after opening the windows, check your air filters and schedule an air duct cleaning if necessary.
Furnace Safety Tips
- Never store combustible materials near your home’s furnace.
- Keep the area around the furnace clear. This means no bikes leaning against it or cardboard boxes stacked up.
- If your home’s smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarm goes off after turning on the heater, get out immediately and call for help.
- Likewise, call your utility provider if you smell natural gas.
How Can You Avoid the Furnace Smell?
Avoid the nasty “fall furnace” smell by having your air ducts cleaned before turning the furnace on for the first time. This will have the added benefit of improving your home’s indoor air quality. Also, inspecting your air filters and changing them monthly can help with both air quality and avoiding excess dust in the ducts.
Autumn is when you want to smell pumpkin spice, apple cider, and crackling fires, not musty, dusty, burning odors. Follow these tips to make sure that getting your heater started is easy and smooth.