October 20, 2020

It’s not uncommon to catch a whiff of a burnt smell when you first turn on a heater. What is this, and why does it happen? Follow along for the quick scoop on this common and typically harmless phenomenon.

What Causes It?

When you’re regularly running the heat, you probably don’t experience that initial burning smell. It only happens when you haven’t run your heater in a while. You turn it on and then boom. It smells like something is burning. As soon as it comes, it also goes away.

That initial burning smell is actually the very small particulate matter on your heater’s heating components that has slowly accumulated over time. Once the heater turns on, this matter is essentially burnt off—and does so very quickly in most cases. Even the smallest bit of dust accumulated on a heating element or other heating component that gets hot will be burnt off this way when the system is initially turned on.

Can It Be Avoided?

This harmless phenomenon is tough to avoid as even the cleanest homes can find some dust entering the HVAC system over time. The cleaner the home, though, generally, the less dominating this initial burnt smell will be. Opening some doors and windows for the first few minutes of heater run-time each season is a good way to abate the smell if it’s overly bothersome.

When to Be Concerned

Typically, this phenomenon shouldn’t be cause for concern. However, if it lasts for more than just the initial few minutes of system startup or gets stronger, the system should be turned off and checked by a professional right away. Also, if the system has been running already and burnt smells occur, a check by a pro is a good idea.

Funny smells, strange sounds, and downright breakdowns are all the exact types of things we specialize in here at Conan Heating & Air Conditioning. If you have an HVAC concern or question of any kind, we are ready to help. Call Conan Heating & Air Conditioning today and see why we are your premier HVAC service provider serving Idaho Falls.

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