With the first couple of cool fronts to arrive in Texas, you may have done something you haven’t done in more than six months – turn on your furnace!  But wait, what’s that smell? If you notice a strange smell when you turn on the heat, it may be a sign that your furnace needs maintenance.  It could be something as minor as a dirty filter, or it could be something more serious such as damaged wiring or a broken electrical component in the furnace.


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The first time that you turn on your furnace, you may notice a smell that is musty or damp – similar to that of dirt or dust. This is because dirt and dust can collect in the duct work, and when the furnace is turned on, the dust gets blown through the house. Dust can also collect on the heat exchanger, and the first time the furnace is turned on, the dust burns off and releases an odor. This is normal and is not a cause for concern.


Are those wires burning?

If you notice something that smells like wires burning or burning plastic, your problem could be more than household dust. Although objects in the ductwork (most commonly children’s toys dropped into open registers) can cause this smell, more commonly this is the time to call a professional.  It could be something serious such as an electrical problem with your furnace, a cracked heat exchanger or something more serious.  If you notice a burning odor while your furnace is operating, shut the system off and call for repairs.


Tune up to avoid breakdown!

Having your home’s unit serviced annually ensures maximum performance of the heating system. The annual checkup reduces the likelihood of a malfunction occurring when you depend on the unit the most. If you put off a checkup of the heating system, you may save money in the short run, but if the unit breaks down, you can end up paying substantially more in terms of inconvenience and for the cost of emergency repairs.