Here’s Why You Might Be Smelling Something Burning When Turning on the Heat


For most people, getting a smell of something burning when turning on the heater is never a cause for concern. We spoke to Air Necessities,, to learn more and it turns out that regardless, it is something that should be investigated – at least to know what is going on.

Here’s why you might be getting a burning smell when activating your heater.

What causes the burning smell?

As mentioned before, a burning smell in general should never be a major cause for concern. This is because when the heater is off, it tends to collect dust layers. Once activated, this layer burns, emitting the unpleasant “burning” smell – that can last for up to an hour.

In case the burning smell lasts longer than this, it might be due to a different reason, and should be looked into.

Is it possible to avoid the burning smell?

While the burning smell is usually not a cause for worry, many homeowners prefer to not face it at all. This can be achieved by getting an annual maintenance for your heating system with a specialist that focuses on air conditioner installation. Annual maintenance involves regular cleaning of the inside of the heater, thereby reducing the amount of dust that would burn up once the heater is switched on. Additionally, you can set up an air filter, which will further reduce the smell. Make sure to get the filter regularly cleaned as well, however, as a dirty filter can actually cause the smell to stay longer.

When should one worry about the smell?

As mentioned before, there are some situations where the burning smell is definitely a cause for concern. One of these is if the smell persists for more than an hour after it has been activated. Another is if you find some specific burning smells, such as that of metal or plastic. In such cases, you might be facing an issue with the insulation and wiring systems, or even the electrical system. In case you are in such a situation, the best thing to do would be to turn off your heater and contact an HVAC repair company right away; as you may be in need of a new device which can be quite costly. Make sure to review AC financing options in your area for the best available opportunity if you are on a tight budget.

Are there any other smells one should be aware of?

The short answer here would be yes. While not common, major faults might occur in your heating system, which might cause different types of smells. For instance, if you smell plastic burning, it might indicate an issue with the electrical system. If you smell something that’s moldy, it could be due to a fungus growing on the evaporator coil, or the air filter being dirty. In case you smell rotten eggs in the burning smell, this might indicate as issue with your LPG appliances. In such situations, leave your home with immediate effect and contact your gas company.