February 16th, 2016

Often when we turn on the heat there is a musty smell – something akin to burning. This is particularly common when the heat gets turned on for the first time in the year. Don’t panic, this smell isn’t a fire hazard, but for those who are sensitive to allergies or suffer from asthma, it can be unpleasant.


So, what is The Burning Smell?
When your home furnace is not switched on for a little while, dirt and dust can accumulate inside it. If you smell burning, it is likely that this is the dust being burnt or pushed around by your heating. Equally pungent is mold, which gives off a musty odor.

It is also worth checking if you have left something by the vents or on the registers. Your child, for example, may have absent-mindedly left a toy on the register where is could melt and emit bothersome fumes.

Can You Avoid the Smell?
Since the smell is from dust that has accumulated over time, a good, thorough cleaning of your air ducts and your home furnace should be sufficient to avoid the burning smell in your nose. Not only will this help you avoid the burning smell, it will also improve the air quality in your home.

If the smell persists, consider changing your air filters. If you continue to have problems, perhaps you need to purchase a new furnace, or have it checked by a professional.

How Long Will the Smell Last?
The burning smell usually only lasts for a few hours, but if the problem is a little more serious it can take up to a couple of days for it to fully disappear. Simply open up your windows and allow fresh air to circulate in order to speed up the process.

If this doesn’t help, be sure to check the filters and check your furnace to be sure everything is in working order. Furnace safety is paramount and, while it’s unlikely that something should be wrong with it, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Tips for Furnace Safety and Avoiding the Burning Smell

In order to be safe in your home you can follow some easy tips with regard to your furnace.

Don’t store combustible materials near your furnace – It stands to reason that this is dangerous and could be a real fire hazard, so be sure to avoid it!

Don’t stack things near the furnace – It can be tempting to use up all the space in your storage areas, which can sometimes mean stacking boxes or bikes near your furnace. You should try to avoid this at all costs.

Buy a smoke detector – And if it goes off after turning on the heater, leave the house straight away and call for help.

If you smell natural gas, call your utility provider – It could be a more serious safety issue, and it will be worth getting a furnace inspection.

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