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Professional Heating & Air Blog

What’s That Smell?

We’ve got news for all you homeowners out there—sometimes heaters can smell. While there might be acceptable times for a smell to occur, like when you run your heater for the first time of the year and it burns off the dust that’s collected on it, most of the time it’s a bad thing. Using your nose can be a great way to discern when there’s something clearly wrong with your heating system.

No, this isn’t just for people with gas furnaces, this blog post is for anyone with a heating system! Heat pumps and gas furnaces alike can require heating repair in Mandeville, LA due to problems that cause bad smells. We’d just like to help get you on the right track so you know how to notice them and what to look out for. We’ll explain what these smells signify, how bad they can become when they’re neglected, and what you should do about them.

Bad Heat Pump Smells

There’s a notorious smell that heat pumps give off when they’re dealing with a condensate drain problem. We get calls about this kind of thing all the time, and perplexed homeowners approach us thinking that something died in their air vents. While this might not be the exact cause, it’s a similar type of problem that needs addressing.

This smell is sometimes called the “dirty sock” smell since it’s identical to the smell you would get from dirty socks. It’s basically what happens when your heat pump can’t get rid of moisture easily from the air that it’s cooling down or heating up, so the water ends up staying in the system for too long. Stagnant water at a moderate temperature is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew, which is precisely what you’re smelling! When this issue is allowed to go on for too long, it can lead to adverse health effects, and even the destruction of your home’s interior due to problematic moisture levels.

Bad Furnace Smells

Now let’s switch gears. Heat pumps might have problems with condensate and mold, but they don’t use natural gas so they smell very different when they encounter problems. Gas furnaces, however, can have some pretty serious complications that require professional help when they emit bad smells.

For instance, if you encounter a “rotten egg” smell coming from your gas furnace, we insist you turn it off and call for help. This is a chemical called mercaptan that is injected into natural gas to warn homeowners when there’s a gas leak. Leaking flammable gas can be a safety issue, as well as a fire hazard, and it needs to be addressed as soon as it’s noticed.

Other smells, like the smell of something burning or the smell of burnt rubber, can signify problems as well. Your furnace is supposed to burn natural gas and vent all of the exhaust from your home as it does it. This means you shouldn’t technically be smelling anything when it’s been working for a while. Burnt rubber could signify a fraying belt in your system, or a burning smell could signify a party has malfunctioned and your furnace is becoming dangerous. Either way, you need to call for help!

When you need it done right, call Professional Heating & Air.

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