When the heat kicks on, you might expect to hear a gentle whir or even smell the faint aroma of warm air. However, if your furnace is running properly, you’ll probably have to pay pretty close attention to notice any sounds or odors.
If you’re noticing that there are strange smells coming along with the warm air, you’re going to want to have your furnace inspected. If you catch a whiff of any of the following three scents, whether they’re faint or powerful, the efficiency of your furnace and the safety of your family could be in serious trouble.
A rotten egg odor coming from your furnace should never be ignored and is a cause for serious concern. Natural gas is highly combustible, which is why it’s such an efficient fuel source. However, the flammability is also why it’s so incredibly dangerous.
On its own, natural gas doesn’t have an odor, so utility companies and gas providers add a sulfur-based substance to it as a safety precaution, and that substance smells like rotten eggs. Therefore, if you notice the smell of rotten eggs coming from your furnace, it could be a sign of a gas leak, which has the potential to be extremely dangerous, as it could cause an explosion or cause health complications.
Since gas leaks are so dangerous, a rotten egg odor should be taken very seriously. Evacuate your home immediately and contact your gas provider and the fire department as soon as possible.
An Metallic Odor
If you smell a metallic or an electrical odor coming from your furnace, it could be a sign that it is overheating. As furnaces age, components start to wear out and break down. When the bearings become worn, the motor on the blower can bind up, and if that happens, the appliance can start to pull higher amounts of electricity in order to continue working.
The higher amounts of voltage that the furnace is pulling can lead to increase the heat in the motor, and that heat can be powerful enough to melt away the insulation that surrounds the electrical wires. The combination of high voltage and melted insulation around the wires can lead to shorts in the furnace, which can cause an electrical smell when the unit kicks on.
If that’s the case and the problem isn’t corrected, the furnace – and your entire home – could eventually catch fire. To prevent a blaze, turn off the power to the furnace and call a professional the moment you smell a metallic or electrical burning smell.
A Locker Room Smell
Your furnace is the last place you’d expect to experience the smell of dirty socks, but it can happen. If you ever notice that your furnace is emitting an odor that is reminiscent of a locker room, it could be a sign of a buildup of bacteria within the coils of your heating system.
While this problem isn’t as dangerous as the aforementioned issues, it should still be addressed. After all, who wants their home to smell like dirty socks? Cleaning the coils and ducts and replacing the air filter should do the trick.
If you aren’t comfortable doing it yourself, contact a licensed HVAC professional.