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Why Your Heater Smells Like It‘s Burning

Summer’s over, and the first really cool days of Autumn are beginning to chill your home. Winter is approaching. You don’t view that as a problem, though, because all you have to do is switch your air conditioning system from cooling to heating. After a few minutes, you wrinkle your nose. “What’s that smell?” You quickly identify it as the smell of something burning, and you are understandably alarmed.

After taking a look at your system, you decide nothing’s on fire, so what’s going on?

It’s the First Time You’ve Used it in the Winter

The good news is it’s probably not anything to worry about. The burning smell happens because your heating system has been turned off for a while, and dust is burning away. That burning creates the smell that made you wrinkle your nose. Don’t worry. It should go away soon.

The Filter is Clogged

Dirty filters can cause a multitude of problems. If they’re clogged, they’re not stopping dust from moving through your system, and that dust will continue to create the burning smell. Replace them regularly, or use reusable filters. Once the filter is replaced or cleaned, the burning smell should go away.

Have a Proper Clearance

Your air conditioning unit and its vents should always have free air flow. This means you should never place anything close to them, especially anything that could impede the air flow. Placing furniture, curtains, or other flammable materials close to a vent could result in the unit becoming hot, and that could cause a fire. Regular inspection by a qualified professional will help ensure your safety.

Other Cause

That burning smell is worth looking into, so satisfy yourself it’s not one of the problems already discussed. However, if you smell something different, such as natural gas, call a professional right away.


“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The reason old sayings like that stick around is they carry the power of truth. It’s always a good idea to have your system inspected before it’s put into use. That burning smell will go away after the dust is burned, but chemical residue may remain, and it can be harmful to your system’s long-term health.

AC Genius has a long and successful history of taking care of its customers, their air conditioning systems, and their homes. Give us a call for complete and thorough maintenance on your system. Continued comfort includes peace of mind.