When the colder season approaches, you feel like turning your heater on after a long time to warm up the house.

While the warm air can be cozy and relaxing, it is sometimes accompanied by a strange burning smell that can be quite unpleasant.

Although it does not mean that your heating system is on fire and you need to call the fire department, the odor should not be ignored. 

Keep reading to learn why you notice a burning smell coming out of your heater when turned on.

Is It Normal For The Heater To Smell When Turned On After A Long Time?

The answer to this question can be a yes or a no. For instance, a burning dust-like smell is absolutely normal if your heater is turned on after a long time.

It means that it is just the accumulated dust and debris that is burning, which is harmless.

However, if the smell is more like electric burning, it can signify some electrical problem and should not be ignored. 

Common Causes Of Burning Smell From HVAC

What are some of the suspects causing a burning smell in your heater, you may ask? 

Dust Over The Furnace

As mentioned earlier, when you turn on your heater after a few months, the burning smell is most likely caused by the accumulated dust, as the furnace remains untouched in the hotter weather. 

To eliminate this odor, keep your furnace running, as usual, to see if the burning smell fades away.

If the odor still lingers, immediately turn your furnace off and call an HVAC professional for help.

Trapped Debris In The Heating System

While the furnace was sitting idle for such a long time, it might be possible that some kind of object had fallen inside the heating or the ductwork system.

Check all rooms for the burning smell if you have a central heating system. There might be something trapped in the vents.

Try reaching and opening the vent to find out if anything is trapped inside to get rid of the odor.

Remove the object from the latter and turn your furnace on to check if the smell is still coming.

Dirty Air Vents Or Furnace Filters

If the air vents or furnace filters are dirty, it will cause molds and mildew to grow inside due to the clogged buildup.

When you turn on the heater, this can result in an unpleasant, musty smell. 

When you notice a musty smell coming from your heater, turn it off and have your filters cleaned.

Once they are mold-free, you can put them back and turn the furnace on to check if the smell is still there.

Electrical Issues

A burning wire-like smell coming from your heater signifies that there is some electrical damage in your furnace.

This can be caused by typical wear and tear over time or sometimes due to improper installation of the heater.

If the wiring is damaged, it can cause a crack in the heat exchanger, overheating the motor, and other serious electrical issues. 

This is the most dangerous burning smell and should be addressed immediately by turning the furnace entirely off and calling our professionals for help.

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