Scheduling regular maintenance for your furnace is one of the most essential tasks to maintain the safety of your home. Tune-ups are necessary every once in a while in order to prevent minor issues from requiring larger, more costly repairs. But what happens when you start smelling an odor coming from your furnace? How do you know if the smell indicates a larger underlying issue or if it’s just a minor blockage? When it comes to proper heating system maintenance, you’ll want to consult the following guide. Learn more about the five odors that are coming from your furnace and what these smells mean.

Chemical Odor

A chemical smell from furnace can typically be associated with the scent of formaldehyde. If this is the scent coming from your furnace, then you may very well have a serious problem on your hands. A chemical smell typically means your heat exchanger is cracked. The heat exchanger has the important task of transferring heat from the combustion chamber to the furnace. And if there are cracks, carbon monoxide could very well make its way into your home. A technician will need to confirm that you have a cracked heat exchanger. If your furnace runs on natural gas or oil, you’ll want to make sure that you have a carbon monoxide detector to ensure that you’re safe.


A smoky smell coming from your furnace occurs when the flue pipe is blocked. Your heating system has a flue pipe that typically vents or exhausts gases from inside your home to the outdoors. It’s an essential component within every home heating system. Turn off your furnace and open the windows for ventilation. Contact a technician about the blockage.

Burning Dust

If there’s a burning smell coming from your furnace, it may very well be burning dust. If you haven’t used your furnace in a while, dust will settle in the heating system. You’ll likely smell it at the beginning of the colder months. But if the burning smell persists, then you may want to consider changing the filters for your furnace. If it still doesn’t get rid of the odor, then you’ll want to ask a professional technician if there could potentially be another serious problem.

Rotten Eggs

A rotten egg odor is typically the indication of a gas leak within your heating system. You’ll want to turn it off and open the windows and doors to allow for proper ventilation. This is a serious issue and can lead to a dangerous situation. You should never try to locate the source of the smell by yourself. The rotten egg smell comes from chemicals that are typically added to natural gases for safety purposes.

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Electrical Burning Smell

An electrical smell typically refers to overheated iron or hot metal and indicates a broken component. Even though furnaces may use gas or oil as a fuel source, there are still electrical components within the heating system. It could be in the igniter or the blower motor. If you’re smelling it through the vents, then you may want to have the motors checked. If you let it go on, then it could lead to irreparable damage or increase the risk of fire. Electrical components could overheat, melt, or burn.

When you’re noticing any unusual smell coming from your furnace, you’ll want to seek out the services of a professional technician. Freyaldenhoven Heating and Cooling have years of experience maintaining heating and cooling systems. And they’re familiar with most issues that homeowners face regularly. Proper maintenance for your heating unit ensures that you won’t damage your system and that you’ll extend its longevity for your home.