What Are The Tell-Tale Signs That There’s A Problem With Your Furnace?

On October 10, 2018 by Himanshu

Furnace Service

The many US and Canadian homes are heated using a furnace. These are necessary because of the harsh winters that occupants must withstand to get through to the warmer spring and summer months. Some furnaces are decades old and continue to provide excellent service, but others show signs of age creating a few difficulties for homeowners.

Bad odors of one kind or another are the best indicator of a problem. Sometimes the problem is not a serious one and other times, it must be attended to promptly. Causes of furnace odours vary from one furnace to the next.

Here’s a look at what sort of problems occur with furnaces.

Electrical Smell

An electrical smell is often caused when the furnace has been allowed to burn and overheat. The metal inside the furnace and rubber seals may be smoking, which is why there is an electrical smell coming into the interior.

This type of smell is potentially hazardous and shouldn’t ever be ignored. If you have this issue with your furnace, seek professional assistance to resolve the problem quickly. Please turn off the furnace and do not use it until the technician can come to assess and solve the problem.

Smoke and Smoke Alarms

A smoke alarm alerts you to a significant issue with the furnace. There may also be real smoke that’s visible in the home too. If this is spotted, disable the furnace. A common cause of this situation is that the chimney has sustained a blockage which is preventing the smoke rising and escaping the property naturally. This causes it to leak through vents into the home instead.

A chimney cleaner is likely to fix the issue. It’s advisable to open the doors and windows to let the smoke escape to avoid the furniture, fabric and other items from smelling of smoke for weeks to come. If the smoke is thick, the home must be vacated because it’s dangerous to stay inside until it has dissipated entirely.

Bad Egg Smell

A bad egg smell is an indicator of a problem with natural gas. The gas itself has no scent, but it is treated to make it detectable to discover a gas leak before it’s too late. The rotten or bad egg smell is usually how gas is treated by a local gas company.

If you smell this in the home, disable the furnace right away to avoid any more gas leaking out. Give your gas provider a phone call to make an appointment for a representative to come out to resolve the situation. Ask about sensible measures you can take to vent the gas safely out of your home too.

Dust Burning

Furnaces tend to pick up quite a bit of dust, especially if they’re older or situated at lower level positions like in a basement. When not used, the dust collects in the interior. When first turning the furnace on when one of the colder months comes around, it’s not uncommon for a burning dust smell to be detected.

This is harmless and usually will disappear quickly with some adequate ventilation. However, if the smell continues for more than 24-hours, then an appointment for a profession to inspect the furnace is warranted as there could be a more serious cause.

Oil Odour

When there’s a sense of oil burning, then it indicates that a filter is blocked up and needs replacing. Most filters for a furnace should be replaced every 3-4 months. In most cases, this doesn’t happen, so the oil burning smell is a common complaint.

With a dustier home, smokers living in the house, or one or more pets roaming around, the filter is likely to get clogged up every faster. Swapping out the filter typically resolves the issue. If that doesn’t happen, then the smell could be indicative of another technical problem and service is called for.

Musty Scent

A musty scent is typical in older houses making it challenging to detect correctly. However, with a furnace, the musty smell suggests that there’s moisture present in the furnace that’s trapped. Usually, this involves a pocket of the furnace that isn’t heating up right away, and it fixes itself later the same day when it does.

Should the musty smell not disappear after a couple of days, it could be that bacteria are growing from damp conditions. Given that some mold and other bacteria are harmful to breathe in, it’s a good idea to get this thoroughly checked out, especially if anyone in the home has a respiratory disease like asthma.

Staying warm in the fall and winter time is essential to avoid getting sick. Your immune system cannot remain strong enough when your home isn’t kept warm. While furnaces are found in older homes, they do need more maintenance to keep them operating efficiently and without significant difficulties.

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