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What is that Burning Smell When I Turn on My Furnace?

Apple cider, pine trees, and crisp autumn air. These quintessential winter smells can’t be separated from our memories. We are all familiar with a not so pleasant winter smell- the smell that fills the house when we turn the furnace on the first time.

Everyone has noticed the burning furnace smell emitting from the furnace when it is first turned on in late fall. Sometimes the scent is so strong that homeowners get worried. The furnace smell is actually normal and not a cause for concern.

Your furnace produces this strange burning smell because dust particles have settled on the elements during the summer months. When you first turn on the furnace, it burns off those dirt and dust particles, making a foul burning smell. The scent cannot be completely avoided, but there are some ways to help reduce its strength and keep your furnace in good condition.

When you flip on the furnace, turn on your attic fan or open the windows to help reduce the burning smell. It is important to keep the area around the furnace clean and to not store combustible materials near the furnace. Remember to install a clean filter regularly. Having your heating system tuned up each year by a professional will help keep it in the best condition, save you money, and make your home comfortable.

Don’t be wary about that smell from your furnace this winter. If you do have concerns about the condition of your furnace, we are happy to check it out for you so you can relax this winter. To schedule your heating inspection, call All-Star Heating, Cooling and Plumbing to let the experts take care of your heating system.

16 Comments
  1. This always used to worry me until I learned that it is actually normal. Thanks for the info!

  2. Very good info. It’s a relief to know that the smell is nothing to be worried about

  3. This question always pops up around this time of year, and it is definitely a valid one. It is explained simply and accurately. Thanks!

  4. Great tips for reducing the smell. Regular inspection is huge for a properly running furnace

  5. I dread the furnace smell. I try to turn mine own when I know Ill be out of the house all day.

  6. I always wondered where this came from. I knew it was from the furnace, just didn’t know exactly why. Thanks for the information.

  7. This is a dreaded smell that happens every year. Thanks for the advice on where it comes from and why it happens.

  8. Definitely an unwanted smell that needs to be taken care of proactively with normal maintenance. Thanks for the post

  9. Great information on turning on your heat for the first time. I always get a little nervous with the smell, but I don’t think I will after reading this blog.

  10. I find that if I have my furnace cleaned before we start it, we don’t have as much smell. Thanks for the answer though!

  11. The furnace small always throws me off. Thanks for the information.

  12. Thanks for the tips. It’s good to know why it smells so we don’t have to worry.

  13. Very good tips here. It’s something we don’t think about as much I’m sure!

  14. That can be a really bad smell. It’s good to know it can be avoided or at least helped some.

  15. I am always really care to not store stuff close to the furnace. I would hate to have a fire and it be my fault because of something like that. Thanks for posting!

  16. I hate that smell and one year actually called my landlord to ask what was going on. He explained that it happened every year and not to worry about it, but now I understand why. Thank you!

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