Your Furnace Will Smell Bad

Bad Home Furnace Smell

It’s going to happen the first night you need a bit of heat in your house this Fall. If you have a furnace, your home will fill with the acrid smell of burning debris.

You can avoid this bad smell. We’re coming up to the time of year when we need to turn on our furnaces to heat our homes. If you are like me, you will switch on the heat early one evening in anticipation of lower temperatures during the night. Then when the furnace fires up, maybe at three in the morning, a very bad smell will come along with the heat. It’s not something you want to smell while you are pleasantly wandering through dreamland.

Should I Worry about this Bad Furnace Smell? Can I Avoid It?

Smelly Furnace

Some people might worry that they are smelling carbon monoxide and they are now in danger. Relax, it isn’t carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is a completely invisible and odorless gas. That is precisely why it is so dangerous. It can kill you before you know it’s there. You should have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, but that is not what you are smelling.

What you will be smelling is a layer of dust that has settled on the heating elements in your furnace over the summer and is now burning off when the heat goes on. It is totally harmless, but it does stink.

Personally, I really hate having this smell waft through the house in the middle of the night. Ugh! It’s like a bad dream. But you can avoid being bothered by this smell with a little pre-planning. On a balmy day when you might like the windows to be open, crank up the furnace.

The smell will come as the heating elements burn off the dust. Then open the windows and let the house air out the noxious smell. It really won’t take long. Then when you really do need the furnace for heat in a few weeks, there will be no smell when the furnace comes on. No worries.

A Safety Note 

Your furnace can produce dangerous carbon monoxide if it is operating improperly. You should have your furnace inspected and serviced annually to avoid any chance of a carbon monoxide problem.

Bill Hirsch | Architect

Bill Hirsch

Leave a Comment