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Wall Heating & Air Conditioning Blog

Why Does My Heater Smell Like Something’s Burning?


You’re peacefully enjoying autumn in Georgia: the heat and humidity have gone down, and you’re relaxing while watching a football game or gathering with family for a fall celebration. It’s chilly enough to turn the heat on for the first time. Suddenly you realize that it smells like something is burning! Do you need to call for emergency heating repairs?

We have good news for you. A burning smell when you first turn your heat on for the season is pretty common, and you can take a few simple steps to clear things up. You only need the help of a heating professional if these easy remedies don’t solve the problem. 

Dust on the Burner or Heating Element

It’s inevitable that some dust would settle in your heater during months of disuse. When that dust is located directly on elements that heat up, it will cause a burning smell the first time you use your heater in the fall. Don’t try to clean those parts of your heater yourself: they are hot and shouldn’t be touched. It shouldn’t take more than an hour for the dust to burn off and the smell to dissipate, so time is the only thing that will resolve this.

Dust in Other Parts of the System

Of course, dust can settle in other places, too. If you have ductwork, the hot air blowing through can dislodge and heat up dust that has settled in your ducts. If you have a boiler, there may be dust heating up in and around your heat registers. It’s a good idea to wipe down surface dust on registers and vents, but again, this will resolve itself with time.

Dust Clogging Your Air Filter

HVAC systems have air filters for good reason: a lot of air, containing a lot of particles like pollen and pet hair, passes through them. Filtering those particles out is not just good for your indoor air quality, it also reduces wear and tear on your HVAC system. But if your filter has caught a lot of dust, your hot air is passing through it on its way to you, bringing the smell of hot dust with it. 

Changing your air filter regularly is an important maintenance task that you can do yourself. When the filter is clean, air passes through easily, increasing the efficiency of your heating system and decreasing the likelihood that you’ll smell burning dust.

If the Smell Persists

If you’ve cleaned your air filter, wiped down easily-accessible dust, and waited an hour (perhaps opening a window if the weather is mild enough) and it still smells like something is burning, it is time for the help of a professional in heating repair in Buford, GA. A burning smell can be caused by electrical components or a burned-out motor, so it’s important to address immediately.

Avoiding the Problem Next Year

If you have annual maintenance done on your heater each fall, your technician will clean the burner or heating element for you. When it starts the season without a layer of dust, it won’t cause a burning smell for you to worry about.

Reach out to Wall Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc. to schedule heating repair today.

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