Heater Smells Like Burning: Should I Be Worried?

Any problem with your home can be stressful, but issues with your heater can be especially troubling because of fire risk. While today’s heating units are designed with fire safety in mind, heating systems can still be at risk of fire under certain conditions. If you’ve noticed your heater smells like burning, this article can give you some ideas of what may be wrong. 

Whenever you have concerns about fire risk in your home, you should always contact a professional. At Air Unlimited Heating & Cooling, they have helped thousands of clients with their heating and AC issues and would be happy to help you as well. Air Unlimited is there to handle all of Overland Park’s furnace replacement services needs.

Safety First

First off, when it comes to the risk of fire in your home, safety is always the top priority. While you can often solve the smell of something burning relatively easily, it’s always better to contact a professional if you think there may be a fire risk. A fire can occur in your heating system, and because your heating system runs through vents in your walls, this type of fire can spread quickly. 

It’s best not to panic anytime your heater smells like it’s burning, but there are a few signs that the problem may be severe. For instance, if your heater produces smoke from the heating unit or vents, you should turn the heater off immediately and call a furnace repair service. If the smoke persists after you turn off the system, the safest option is to exit the home and contact the fire department. 

While you should always make the safest choice for you and your family, the following sections will cover some crucial signs that may signal a serious problem. Look out for these anytime your heater smells like it may be burning.

Electric Fire

Heating and air conditioning systems contain a variety of electrical components and wiring. These components, particularly the heat exchanger, are exposed to heat constantly and can wear or even melt over time, which can compromise the system’s ability to function correctly. 

If the odor you’re noticing from your heater smells electrical or metallic, there may be faulty wiring somewhere in your system. Because much of this wiring runs through the walls of your home, the fire risk can be severe. If you suspect you may have an electrical issue with your heating system, call Air Unlimited Heating & Cooling for a full inspection today. 

Leaking Natural Gas

One of the most dangerous problems homeowners can face is a gas leak. The natural gas that fuels many heating systems and stoves in American homes is highly flammable and can even cause explosions if a significant enough amount builds up. Because many heating systems utilize burners or pilot lights that can ignite gas fumes and oil filters that can become clogged, homeowners must be especially conscious of this risk. 

Fortunately, identifying a gas leak is simple once you know the signs. For safety reasons, the gas companies combine a strong odor, resembling rotten eggs, with the gas. If you or a family member notice this smell in your home, it is essential to leave the premises and ensure you don’t do anything that will spark the fumes.

Common Reasons for Burning Smell From Heater

While it’s always better to be on the safe side and contact a professional, there are some common reasons for your heater to smell like burning without a serious problem. The following sections will inform you about some common reasons your heater may be producing this smell and what you can do about it.

Burnt Dust

The most common reason a heater smells like burning is dust build-up. If you notice that the smell is most potent when you first turn your heater on after being out of use, this is the most likely culprit. 

Unfortunately, everything in your home will eventually accumulate dust, no matter how well you clean. Dust consists of various materials from around your home, and many of them are flammable. This material is carried into your heating system by air circulation, but it typically burns off before enough can build up to produce a noticeable smell. 

However, if you try to minimize heater usage or have simply been out of town for an extended period, you may notice a smell the first time you turn your heater back on. The good news is that this smell is temporary, as the dust will quickly burn off, and your heater shouldn’t suffer any lasting effects.

How To Know if Dust Is Responsible

There are a few ways to know if dust is causing the smell you’re noticing from your heater. Firstly, this type of smell is relatively distinct. So if you’re smelling a dusty aroma along with the smell of burning, there’s a good chance this is the problem. Secondly, this burning is temporary—once the accumulated dust has combusted, the scent should quickly disappear with no interference. 

If the smell doesn’t go away, don’t panic. Smells can sink into the air filters in your heater system, so always try changing those if you’re having trouble getting rid of an odor in your home. If you’ve already changed the filters and the smell persists, your problem may be a bit more extensive.

Mold Build-Up

If the smell your heater produces doesn’t smell like dust, the problem may be a build-up of mold or mildew inside your heating system. This smell is also fairly distinct, so consider whether the smell coming from your heater reminds you of other times you’ve encountered the smell of mildew. This smell can often be noticed in areas with high moisture, like showers or bathrooms, so keep this in mind if the burning smell seems familiar. 

Unfortunately, if burning mold is responsible for the smell coming from your heater, there are several places the mold could be. The filters are the most accessible place to check, so changing those is an excellent place to start. However, if this does not solve the problem, you may need an air conditioning servicing company to clean your air vents and ducts and ensure they are free from foreign objects. 

Mold can also accumulate throughout your home’s air conditioner, including inside the return vents. If you’re wondering, “what is an AC return vent?” Air Unlimited Heating & Cooling’s website has lots of helpful information.

Be Proactive

If you think there may be a fire or fire risk in your heating system, it’s crucial to get help quickly. While the smell of something burning in your heater is not always a sign there’s a significant problem, it’s always better to be cautious when your safety is on the line. If you’re in any doubt that your home is safe, you should always call a professional. 

Quickly addressing the problem can make things much more manageable and prevent the situation from getting worse. At Air Unlimited Heating & Cooling, our team has years of experience solving the community’s heating and cooling issues. As a result, we’ll be able to quickly diagnose and solve the problem with your heater and ensure your home is safe and comfortable for you and your family. 

When you’re concerned that your heater smells like burning in Kansas City or the Liberty area, you can always count on Air Unlimited. We strive to ensure each customer receives the best possible price and quality of service and offer service agreements that allow you to maintain your heating system affordably. Call today at (816) 286-7258 to speak to a friendly representative and schedule your service.

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