If your furnace smells while running, it’s trying to tell you something’s up. We’ve compiled a list of the top six furnace smells so you can learn what causes them and how to fix them. These include:

  1. Burning smell from furnace
  2. Furnace smells like burning plastic
  3. Gas smell from furnace
  4. Furnace smells like sewer
  5. Furnace smells musty

1. The Furnace Smells Like It’s Burning

Cause: Dusty Furnace

If your furnace smells like burning, it’s likely happening when you turn on your furnace for the first time in the fall. Like anything else in your home, your furnace gets dusty over time. This dust burns up when you turn on the heat, resulting in the burning dust smell from your furnace.

2. Furnace Smells Like Burning Plastic

Cause: Electrical Problem

If your furnace smells like burning plastic or burning rubber, it might have an electrical problem. This smell of burning can be caused by melting plastic wire casing, which is a safety issue. If you’re noticing a melted plastic smell, turn off your heating system right away and call us at 309-517-7511 for furnace repair.

Cause: Overheated Motor or Cracked Furnace Exchanger

An electrical burning smell could also mean your furnace motor is overheated or the heat exchanger is cracked. The heat exchanger safely exhausts carbon monoxide that’s naturally created during the combustion process.

If it cracks, carbon monoxide can leak into your home. This colorless gas is fatal in large doses. So, it’s important to have an HVAC professional do annual furnace maintenance and have functional carbon monoxide detectors.

Other symptoms of a cracked heat exchanger include:

  • Soot on or inside the furnace
  • Yellow burner flame, instead of blue
  • Chemical smell from furnace, such as formaldehyde
  • Water near your furnace, as long as the condensate drain isn’t blocked
  • Flu-like symptoms

3. A Gas Smell Is Coming From the Furnace

It’s normal for your heating system to let off a little bit of gas when it turns on, so you might get a gas smell from your furnace. But it’s not typical to be smelling natural gas or rotten eggs throughout your home on a daily basis.

Cause: Gas Leak

If your furnace smells like gas continuously, shut it down. If you know where your main gas supply valve is, shut that off too. Then contact the gas company and us for help.

4. Furnace Smells Like Sewer

If your furnace smells like sewer, or rotten eggs, you’ll want to make sure you don’t have a gas leak. If you don’t, the problem could be with your sewer lines and not your furnace. This is especially true if it’s been very dry lately.

Cause: Dry Sewer Trap or Sewer Leak

If you suspect your sewer trap is dry, you can try pouring some water down the floor drain in your basement. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you might have a sewer leak, so you’ll want to contact a company that handles sewer line repair.

5. Furnace Smells Musty

If your furnace smells musty, mold and mildew have probably been growing in it for a while.

Cause: Dirty Ductwork

Your furnace uses air ducts to send warm air throughout your house. Mold can grow in the ductwork over time, especially if you live in a humid climate. You can eliminate the mold by having an HVAC technician do air duct cleaning.

You Can Count on Us for Your Furnace Repair Needs

Troubleshooting your heating and cooling system on your own is hard. Your comfort is our number one priority at J.L. Brady Company LLC, so our pros are here to help you when you need us. When you need furnace repair in Moline that you can trust, contact us at 309-517-7511.