Does something stink in your house? Have you found yourself spraying air fresheners and trying to hunt down the source of the problem? The truth is some of those odors could have to do with your household furnace. If you’re experiencing any of these stenches, it could be time to take a look at your heater, as we’ll tell you what exactly is causing the issue and how you can get that foul smell to disappear.
That Rotten Eggs Smell
That rotten eggs smell is a downright nasty one. If you have a natural gas furnace, it could actually be a serious cause for alarm. Natural gas is odorless, colorless, and tasteless, so utility companies add a chemical called mercaptan to give it a distinctive smell. You and your loved ones should exit the house immediately and call 911. Find a safe location where you can then call your local utility company for an emergency repair appointment.
After repairs by a technician, that foul odor should dissipate with the help of some cross ventilation. It is recommended that you keep windows and doors open to allow fresh air indoors to improve the air quality of your household.
A Burning Odor
When activating a furnace for the first few cycles of winter, it is normal to smell something burning. This is not an immediate cause for panic, as dust and dirt that collected on the heating unit during the offseason burn off. If this odor persists, then you should schedule a service call with an HVAC technician to take a look.
A thorough cleaning can clear out any contaminants that are caught in the ductwork of an HVAC system, ruining airflow and putting more pressure on the system when you crank up the thermostat. It is a good idea to consider a dehumidifier to eliminate moisture that can lead to some foul smells potentially brought on by the presence of mold and mildew.
A Musty Stench
If you have the heat running for a little bit during the winter months, and your furnace smells like a gym sock, it is time to consider cleaning or replacing the furnace filter. If the smell doesn’t disappear, it is best to call in a technician to help deal with that musty smell that could be making your house smell like a gym locker room.
That dirty sock syndrome, as some refer to it, could be lingering in the air ducts of your home’s heating system and may be evidence of mold or other harmful bacteria. You can have a sample analyzed by a microbiology testing center to determine the presence of spores. You can also opt for duct cleaning. It is important to remember that regular filter cleaning is part of proper furnace maintenance, and replacement should be conducted seasonally.
Oil Burning or Diesel Fuel
An oil-burning unit that reeks of diesel fuel or burning oil requires immediate investigation. If a spill occurred during recent refueling by your gas company, it’s not much cause for alarm and the odor can be alleviated by a quick cleanup. However, you may need to schedule service with a technician if you notice the furnace is not burning all the oil passing through, resulting in a flammable fog that can ignite.
If that burning oil odor is coming from your kitchen, it could be the lingering smell from cooking your last meal. Cooking oil can have something of a stench, but it is actually something to consider recycling. Registered companies can help dispose of this oil properly, and all you have to do is put it in a safe jar. It’s just one of many things you can recycle from tools and artificial Christmas trees to compost and toothbrushes.