As the temperature drops in the Decatur, Alabama area, most households will turn to furnaces to heat their homes. Though other heating methods exist, such as boilers and heat pumps, furnaces remain the most common type of heating.

With a furnace, electric or gas, air is forced through a series of ducts. And with that air can come unusual smells if something is wrong, or if the furnace hasn’t been used in a long time.

Knowing which smell means what is an important first step to diagnosing what could be wrong with your unit and getting it fixed.

Smell #1: A Musty Smell

There are times during the northern Alabama year where the furnace or the AC unit is simply not in use. In April, May, and October, it is likely that homeowners won’t use their furnace or their AC. When this happens, moisture can gather inside your furnace.

You may notice a musty or dusty smell coming from your vents when first turning on your furnace after a period of disuse. This smell is no cause for concern so long as the smell dissipates quickly. However, if it remains after a few heating cycles, there may be mold or bacteria growing inside your furnace.

Having an annual cleaning and inspection done can help to prevent this issue before it becomes a problem. Changing your air filter is a good idea as well.

Smell #2: Rotten Eggs

Smelling gas is always a cause for concern, especially if you have a gas furnace. If you notice such an odor when turning on the furnace, this indicates a gas leak. Immediately shut down your furnace and evacuate your home and call the utility company to locate the leak.

Such a smell can indicate a major issue such as a cracked heat exchanger, which can lead to carbon monoxide buildup in your home.

Smell #3: Burned Plastic

Burning plastic is a very unpleasant smell, and it can happen inside your furnace if a component such as a control panel takes damage. The gases released from this can cause a myriad of health issues ranging from asthma to cancer if the fumes are inhaled over the long term.

If you notice such a smell coming from your furnace, contact your HVAC company to locate the source and have it fixed. Acting quickly will also prevent any further damage to your furnace.

Smell #4: Metallic Odor

Metallic odors, which tend to be acrid and highly unpleasant, usually indicate something metallic overheating. Furnaces are made primarily of metal components, and such a smell coming from the unit indicates a possibly dangerous malfunction.

Shutting down your furnace and contacting your HVAC company is the next step. Often, such issues turn out to be electrical shorts or worn metal components.

Smell #5: Rotten or Sewer Odor

Aside from a gas leak, a rotten odor can indicate an issue such as a small animal dying and decaying in your vents. Having your vents inspected for openings can not only eliminate the smell but repair any air leaks reducing the efficiency of airflow in your home.

Contact Us Today

Some smells coming from your HVAC system are harmless, but others will need immediate attention. If you have any questions about your furnace in the Decatur, Alabama area, don’t hesitate to contact us today. We’re here for all your furnace needs.