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If you’ve ever noticed a strange burning smell coming from your furnace, you may wonder if this is normal or something to be concerned about. There are a few reasons furnaces sometimes smell bad. 

Built-up dust

The first few times you use your furnace in the winter you might notice the smell of burning dust. This is not unusual and not something to be concerned about. When your furnace isn’t used dust collects inside your furnace. When you turn your furnace on the first time, the blower may burn off this dust and you’ll notice a smell coming up through the ducts in your house. If this smell doesn’t go away after a few hours, schedule a service call. 

Brand new furnace

If you have a new furnace, it may smell odd when you first turn it on. New furnaces have a protective coating on some parts. As the furnace runs for the first few times, it can sometimes create a burning smell. This usually disappears as you use the furnace more. If you are concerned or if the smell doesn’t go away, give your installer a call to see if this is normal.

Electrical Burning

Occasionally homeowners will notice something that smells like burnt plastic coming from their furnace. If you notice the smell of burning plastic, turn your furnace off. The smell of burning plastic may be because of electrical wiring melting or overheating inside of your furnace. This could cause a fire and should be checked by an HVAC technician immediately.


Sometimes a homeowner smells something horrible that permeates through the whole house. Although this is something nobody wants to smell, it does happen. It may smell like something burning, but it usually has a strong odor. Rodents sometimes get into the ventilation system, especially during the winter. They can leave urine, feces, or decompose inside the ducts. An inspection by a heating and cooling specialist can determine if this causes the smell.

These are the main reasons you might smell something burning from your furnace. If you smell gas (it smells like sulfur or rotten eggs) this is something you should address immediately. Shut off your furnace, leave your home, and call 911 or your gas company right away.

Other unpleasant odors, like a musty smell, or the smell of mold or mildew may come from your ductwork. You shouldn’t ignore strange or persistent smells. Call Sharon’s Heating and Air Conditioning today at (734) 425-1415 with questions you have. Our staff can help you identify any problems or schedule a service call.


Call the professionals at Sharon’s Heating and Air Conditioning at (734) 425-1415