Burning Smell From Furnace: 6 Furnace Smells & What They Mean

Burning Smell From Furnace: 6 Smells & What They Mean

Burning Smell From Furnace

We’ve all been there—you’re enjoying a toasty day indoors when you start to notice a bad smell coming from your heating system.

An unpleasant odor coming from your furnace is one of the most common signs that your heating system needs repairs. While certain smells may be normal during the first heat cycle of the season, other smells can indicate something is very wrong.

Read through this guide to understand the 6 types of furnace smells and what they mean for your heating system.

1.Burning Plastic

If you smell burning plastic, it’s probably because there’s something inside your heating unit that shouldn’t be there, like a plastic bottle cap, a toy, or some other object. Whatever the cause, if you smell burning plastic, turn off your furnace right away and call a trusted HVAC company for help, before the problem gets worse.

2.Rotten Eggs

The smell of rotten eggs is unmistakable, and for good reason. If you’re smelling rotten eggs in your home, you most likely have a natural gas leak. Gas leaks are extremely dangerous and carry the risk of fire or even explosion. As soon as you notice the smell, turn off your furnace, leave the house, and call your gas company for assistance.

3.Dusty Burning Smell

In most cases, it’s completely normal if your furnace smells like burning, especially if you’ve just turned on your heat for the winter. Dust settles into your heating system during the off-season. When you fire up your furnace for the first time, all that dust heats up and emits a slight burning smell.

If the burning smell doesn’t go away within a few hours, there may be something else wrong with your heater, or you may need to change your air filter. Either way, a professional HVAC technician will be able to inspect your system and give you a solid answer.

4.Metallic Smell

A metallic smell coming from your furnace might mean that certain inner components, made from rubber or metal, are getting too hot and beginning to melt. In some cases, the wires inside your heating system may even be melting. If you notice this kind of smell, turn off your furnace immediately to prevent further damage to your system. Once you do so, call an HVAC company for repairs.

5.Burning Oil or Smoke

If you have an oil furnace, you’re probably familiar with this scent. Luckily, this type of odor is very easy to fix—you just need to change your oil filter. If the smell doesn’t go away after changing your filter, contact an HVAC specialist for assistance.


The smell of gunpowder is a specific scent that may indicate your system is overheating. When the circuit board inside your furnace gets too hot, it shuts itself off, creating a unique, metallic scent, similar to the smell of gunpowder. If this happens, shut your furnace off and call for repairs.

Schedule Furnace Repairs in Portland

If your furnace smells funny, trust the HVAC professionals at Roth, Heating & Cooling, Plumbing, Electrical, Drain Services to make things right. We’ll expertly diagnose the problem and repair your furnace, so you can return to enjoying the comfort of your home as quickly as possible.

We’re the top choice for furnace repair in Portland, Salem, Hillsboro, Aurora, and the surrounding areas. Call us today at 503-266-1249 to schedule service.

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    Generac  - Industry Affiliations
    Daikin - Industry Affiliations
    BBB Rating - Industry Affiliations

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