What To Do When Strange Smells Are Coming From The Furnace

If strange smells are coming from the furnace in your Mid-Ohio home, this could signal a serious problem, or at the very least something that needs to be addressed immediately. Many homeowners, however, don't know how to distinguish among strange smells coming from the furnace. Let's take a look at a few types of odors and what they could indicate.


  • Burning dust odor – This is common when you start up your furnace after it hasn't been in operation for a while. The odor is typically from dust that has collected inside the combustion chamber. If your filters are dirty, the smell will be even worse. These smells usually go away after an hour or two. If they don't, call in a professional.



  • Fuel odor – If your natural gas-fueled furnace or its gas lines are emitting a sulfuric smell, something akin to rotten eggs, this means you likely have a dangerous gas leak and are at risk of an explosion. Gas companies typically add a chemical to odorless natural gas to give it that rotten-egg odor. The moment you smell it, evacuate your house right away and contact the fire department.
  • Musty odor – This particular odor could indicate a buildup of bacteria or mold within your furnace or its ductwork. To avoid accumulation of indoor mold, contact an HVAC expert to clean out your system. If the musty smell still doesn't go away, there's something else causing the problem, and you'll need a professional to help you find it.
  • Electrical odor – Forced-air furnaces use motors and electrical wires to operate the blower. An odor of this type often means your furnace either has broken or malfunctioning parts or wiring, and will smell like hot metal or an overheated iron.

Maintaining your furnace will keep your household comfortable and safe, and help control energy usage and costs. If strange smells are coming from the furnace, it's important for you to act on them right away. If not, the source of the problem might get worse.

For more expert advice about strange smells coming from the furnace, or for any questions relating to home comfort, please contact us at Joe Behr Plumbing & Heating, Inc. We have been serving the Mid-Ohio area since 1965.


Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Mid-Ohio area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about furnace maintenance and other HVAC topics, visit our website.

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