Heater Smells – Causes and Cures

Fall is fully underway and the chilly evenings are finally here! If you recently started up your heater for the first time in months, it may be giving off strange smells. This can be alarming, but depending on the cause of the smell, it could simply be a harmless side effect of letting your heater sit unused for a long time. Below, we’re covering some of the most common heater smells that we receive calls for. We’ve also included instructions on tackling each of these different problems and getting your home back to feeling (and smelling) comfortable.

Of course, the easiest way to prevent problems with your heater is to have preventative HVAC maintenance performed regularly! Texas Ace recommends having maintenance done at least twice a year, typically in the milder seasons like spring or fall. On top of addressing any problem smells, there are plenty of benefits to having regular HVAC maintenance done! 

Check out our previous post, The Importance of Regular HVAC Maintenance, to learn more.


Common Heater Smells and Causes


Scorched or Burning Heater Smell

The smell of burning dust is very distinct. If you’ve smelled it before, then you’ll recognize if this is the case. This burning dirt smell is one of the most common heater issues, and it’s pretty easy to resolve. Dirty filters, ductwork, and internal heating components are the biggest contributors to this heater smell. The solution? Clean it up! Schedule an appointment with your local HVAC technicians to clean your heating element, replace your filters, and clean out your ducts.

Burnt Plastic or Rubber Smell Coming from the Heater

Just like the smell of burning dust, burnt rubber and plastic are very distinct odors. If you’re smelling hot or burnt plastic or rubber, turn off your heater and call an HVAC company to schedule an inspection right away. The internal components of your furnace are meant to stand up to high heat, but when they get old, worn out, or damaged, they can lose their resistance to heat. Having anything exposed to high heat for long periods of time is a serious fire hazard! 

During an HVAC inspection, your technician will examine the furnace components to see what’s going wrong with the system. They’ll check the wiring to make sure there’s nothing faulty with your furnace’s electrical supply that’s causing it to overheat, and replace any old or worn-out components.

Rotten Egg Smell Coming From Heater

If your home has a natural gas hookup, smelling rotten eggs from your HVAC system is an emergency. Learn more about what to do when there is a natural gas leak.

The natural gas that is used to power homes is odorless and colorless. Mercaptan is a harmless chemical additive that smells powerfully of rotten eggs, and it is added to natural gas to make it obvious when there is a leak. If the smell is coming from your range or stove, check that all of the valves are closed. It’s important that you do not ignite the pilot light or any other source of flame while there is a gas leak in your home. 

Should you determine that the strong rotting egg smell is coming from your HVAC system or ducts, remove yourself and your family from the home immediately. Once you are safely away from the premises, contact your gas company and emergency services. They will shut off your home’s natural gas supply and investigate where the leak is coming from. Emergency crews will determine when it is safe for you to return home.

Texas Ace HVAC is Here for You!

No matter what strange smells are coming from your heater, Texas Ace is here to help! We offer 24/7 emergency service all around the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Whether you need to schedule a preventative maintenance appointment or you need immediate repairs, you can rely on the team at Texas Ace Heating and Air to be there for you.

Schedule an HVAC appointment today! Just contact us online here, or give us a call at 817-240-6701.