addressing burning smells furnace

Addressing Burning Smells From the Furnace

When it comes to the HVAC system in any home or business building, smells are a common consideration. We often get some of the earliest signs of issues in the heating or cooling system through smells that aren’t what we’re used to, and these can also be signals of poor air quality or other HVAC issues throughout the year.

At Action Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric, our heating and air conditioning pros can help you with any strange odors in your home or building. One common smell that’s often found in Utah homes during the fall, winter and any other cool periods: A burning smell coming from the furnace. What does this smell signal? Is it always necessarily a bad thing? Let’s go over all the basics you need to know here, including when you should call our pros.

What Burning Smells Mean

In many cases, particularly if you’ve just installed a furnace or are just turning it on for the first time in a little while, burning smells coming from this area are entirely normal. This kind of thing is common, and is actually one of the most frequent questions we get from our clients during the winter. Over time, most people who have lived in a home for a few years get used to that general smell, which is just part of the components of the furnace getting going in most cases.


When the furnace isn’t in use, whether it’s for months at a time or even just hours, dust and other buildups can accumulate on their components – things like heat exchangers, registers and even air ducts throughout your home.

And when the furnace is turned on after this, this buildup is shot into the air and begins to be circulated. In nearly all cases, the dusty or burning smell you experience is due to this buildup.

Persisting Smell Issues

In most cases, this smell will last just a couple hours or even less. This is especially true when the furnace hasn’t been off for too long, such as just a day or two. In cases where it’s been unused for several days or months, you can give it several days for the smell to dissipate.

However, if the smell continues to persist after this point, or if the burning odor seems more significant or different than it has been in the past, you could have another issue. Go through standard filter changing and other furnace tactics, but if these do nothing, call our pros right away to get them on the scene and investigating the issue before it worsens.

For more on the causes and actions you should take with a burning smell coming from the furnace, or to learn about any of our heating, cooling or plumbing services, speak to the pros at Action Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric today.