One of the last things you want when winter comes around is to be greeted with a burning smell when turning on your heater. This can seem like an easy problem to fix, but there are many reasons for this smell, and it may not be as simple as just getting new air filters or cleaning out your vents. Here’s what might be causing that smell.

Vent That Is Working Improperly

One of the most common reasons for a burning smell from your heating system is that the vent is malfunctioning. For example, if the vent is not open, air cannot circulate through your heater, causing it to heat up until something catches on fire. If this happens, try to get to a safe area and turn it off. If this is the issue, all you have to do is clean out your vent and make sure it’s clear.

If not, there are a few things that could be wrong with your vent. It could be that your filter is clogged. If you have a separate filter at the front of the flue to keep air from coming in through the top of it, this could be the cause of your smell. Clean it off, and you should breathe a sigh of relief.

Sometimes, however, your heater may have too much buildup on the filters, walls of the heater or other vents. This is not only unhygienic for you and your family, but it can cause a strong smell when the air begins to circulate through your system. If this happens and you’re in Scottsdale, you will need to get in touch with our team to have your heater cleaned out.

If debris from the outside is sucked into your vent before it clogs the vent, it will also affect airflow. This could cause your heater to have a burning smell or overheat, potentially causing damage to the coils or other essential parts of it. Remove any fluff or dust that has built up in your vents, and they should eventually get back to normal.

A Heater That Is Working Improperly

While vents caused the above situation, they can be linked directly to the heater and its parts. If your vent problem isn’t causing you trouble, but you’re still having a burning smell from your heater, then it’s most likely due to the breakdown of certain parts. Again, if this is the case, you may only have a few problems to deal with.

It could be that your heater has no more gas. If your central heating system uses gas to work, it will turn off once there’s none left. This problem can be solved by simply having more gas put into your system, which should fix the issue of it burning out.

However, it also might be that your central heating system has lost its strength over time, and the gas is burning out too quickly. Rust or corrosion could have caused some damage to your heater’s metalwork, which prevents it from heating as well as it once did. If this is the case, you will need to get an HVAC technician over to your home to look at the damage and repair it.

The most common part that fails in a heater is the heating element. This can be located at the back or bottom of the unit, and its sole purpose is to heat up and distribute air throughout your area. If this fails and you try to turn it on, air will not circulate, and the only thing you’ll smell is burning plastic.

Furnace Issues

If your furnace is the issue, then it could be because of one of four things:

  • There’s too much air in the system
  • Carbon monoxide has built up over time
  • You’re using the wrong type of furnace fuel
  • Your floor burners need to be recalibrated

When gas is burned in a furnace, it produces carbon monoxide. This gaseous byproduct makes up most of the fumes that come out during combustion, and if there’s too much, you’ll experience the smell of burning plastic. If this is the problem, you’ll need to get our technicians over to your home, and they will take out the carbon monoxide that has built up.

If it’s not carbon monoxide, then perhaps there’s too much air in your system, or you’re using the wrong type of fuel. This can be checked by turning on your furnace and opening a window to listen for a clicking sound. If you hear it, then there’s too much air in your system, and you need to have a professional come over to the home and check the condition of your furnace.

If you don’t hear a sound but your heater still smells, it could be because a switch has been flipped off or there’s a problem with the fan. If this is the case, you should be able to fix it yourself by simply finding what switch has been turned off or turning it back on. The same goes for your fan.

Cracked Heat Exchanger

If the valve isn’t the problem, it’s likely a cracked heat exchanger. If this is cracked, turning on your heater will make a burning smell no matter what you do. This part can be replaced, but you should check with a professional before going ahead and doing it yourself as it could cause more problems later on.

Drainage Issue

If you don’t smell any smoke and the smell is highly faint, there could be a drainage issue. If your heater’s vents get clogged or the drain becomes stopped up, it will leave water collecting inside your heater. The longer this goes on, the more chance there is of mineral buildup and rust, creating a burning smell.

Accumulation of Dust and Dirt in the System

If your heater vents are clogged, and the smell comes from the inside of your heating system, this is likely what has caused it. If dust and dirt accumulate too much, it can build up on parts and cause damage. This may include the coils that help to circulate hot air throughout your house and other pieces that will help move air.

If this is the case, you’ll want to get in touch with our professionals who will be able to assess your heating system and ensure that it’s clean. They may even need to replace some parts if they’re too old or worn out, which could fix the issue altogether.

If your vent is clean and there are no issues to be found with the other parts, then it’s likely that you have an accumulation of dust or debris in your heating system. While this won’t cause a strong odor, it can still affect the way your heater works. Professional cleaners usually come out every six months or so to take care of these issues for you.

There are many reasons why you can smell something when your heater is turned on. If your heater has any of the problems listed above, be sure to reach out to AC by J in Scottsdale, AZ. Our highly trained and experienced professionals will be more than happy to help assess your home and offer you the best possible solution. We can also help with the installation, maintenance and repair of your heating and cooling products. Call us today, and we will solve your problem before you have to deal with it.

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