Woman registers furnace smells

3 Troubling Furnace Smells in Durham, NC

January 26, 2024

Your furnace should not be giving off strange or unusual smells. If it is, that should spur you to request repairs or take some other kind of major corrective action. Here are three troubling odors that might come from your furnace in Durham, NC and what the likely causes are for each.

1. Smoke or Burning

A burning smell coming from your furnace could mean that natural gas has ignited somewhere and caused a fire, or it could mean that the furnace’s flue pipe or other exhaust valves have major obstructions that prevent them from working. The smell of burning dust could result from old and clogged filters blocking the flow of air.

Be sure to check and change your filter on a regular basis, usually every three months. The former issue, however, requires professional intervention in the form of a tune-up.

2. Sulfur or Rotten Eggs

This particularly awful smell can be a sign of danger. Although natural gas is odorless on its own, utility companies may artificially add the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs to it to more readily alert people to its presence.

Therefore, if you suddenly smell sulfur or rotten eggs from your furnace, it’s probably leaking gas. As soon as you notice this, shut off the furnace and call for professional help.

3. Chemicals

A vague chemical or formaldehyde-like odor is another indicator of significant danger. In all likelihood, a furnace emitting such a smell has a cracked heat exchanger.

The heat exchanger should transfer heat from the furnace’s combustion chamber to its plenum, helping the system as a whole to achieve equilibrium. If the heat exchanger has suffered cracks or any other kind of damage, the risk of a fire or carbon monoxide leak rises drastically.

In nearly all cases, bad smells from your furnace mean bad news. To fix whatever’s wrong, call Lee Air Conditioning in Durham, NC, and ask for our heating services.

Image provided by iStock

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