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Why Does Your Heat Smell Like Its Burning?

||Why Does Your Heat Smell Like Its Burning?

Why Does Your Heat Smell Like Its Burning?

It’s that time of year again when the weather gets colder and we start bundling up. This includes cranking up your heater. But what do you do when you turn your heater on for the first time and it starts to smell like something is burning?

Normally, the burning smell isn’t something to call the fire department over, but it doesn’t mean you should ignore the smell completely. Some odors are common side effects of your heater sitting unused all summer; however, other can be signs of a much more serious and dangerous problem.

As the temperatures begin to fall this winter, many of us are finally turning on the heat for the first time in months. For many of you reading this, the first burst of warm air may come with an unpleasant smell. What is that smell? Where is it coming from?

Burning Dust

This is the most common odor when turning your heater after a long period without use. During the hot summer months, your heater stays turned off, collecting dust and debris along the heat exchanger, burners and other heating mechanisms. As these particles burn off, they may emit a smoky odor, that should dissipate after a couple of hours. If the smell lingers over time or worsens, turn off your unit immediately and call your heating and cooling expert at Air Solutions for emergency maintenance.

Musty Smell

The scent of must or mildew emitting from your heather is often a sign of mold/mildew forming in your heating system or ductwork. Sometimes, the buildup is attached to the dust and debris that will eventually burn off. However, if the smell doesn’t go away, your first step is to replace or clean your air filters. If your filters are new and/or clean, and the smell does not improve, contact your Trane Certified Specialist at Air Solutions, and we can clean and inspect your ductwork.

Electrical Burning

A burning electrical small could indicate a serious electrical problem. If your unit is defective or damaged, the blower motor can overheat, causing the smell. Damaged electrical wiring can also contribute to an electrical burning smell. In the worst case, the smell could indicate a cracked heat exchanger—a serious and potentially dangerous issue. If you smell any electrical burning, seek help immediately. Turn your unit off and contact us right away.

Schedule Regular Maintenance

The best way to ensure your unit is operating effectively is to schedule a Trane Comfort Specialist at Air Solutions to inspect and service your unit bi-annually—once in the spring to ensure your AC is working, and once in the fall before the cold weather arrives.

To book maintenance or contact us for an emergency repair, visit or call 409.962.2476.