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Is it Normal for a New Furnace to Smell?

December 08, 2021

Have you recently had a new furnace installed and are now noticing a weird smell? You're not alone, because many other homeowners also experience this at first. Let’s review what’s causing this smell, and when you can expect it to go away, as well as three other furnace smells you shouldn’t ignore.

Why Your New Furnace Smells

There are two reasons why a new furnace might stink.

Protective Coating

Your furnace has a special finish on certain parts to keep them from rusting. This may include the heat exchanger, which safely gets rid of gases such as carbon monoxide naturally produced during the heating process.

When your furnace runs for the first couple of times, the coating may emit a burning smell. This is standard and the smell should go away the more your furnace heats.

To be on the safe side, you’ll want to call a heating and cooling company if the smell continues. A burning smell that lingers can mean the motor is too hot or there’s an electrical problem, among other concerns.

Dust

Dust accumulates inside your furnace when it’s not running in warm weather. That dust will burn off when you turn on your furnace in the fall, producing a burning smell. This smell should go away within a few minutes.

One way you can reduce or prevent this smell is by having furnace maintenance done each year. This is necessary to keep your valuable manufacturer’s warranty valid, plus it keeps your furnace clean and ensures it will run properly during the upcoming heating season.

3 Other Furnace Smells You Shouldn’t Ignore

While it’s less common for a new system to require furnace repair, it happens. Here are three other odors you should watch for and what they might mean.

  1. Burning plastic or rubber. If your furnace smells like burning plastic, you might have an electrical problem. Electrical wiring is covered in plastic to protect against shocks, and this smell is a sign that heat is melting this precautionary coating. To avoid a fire, turn off your furnace right away and have it inspected out by an HVAC technician.
  2. Gas or rotten eggs. Gas companies include sulfur in natural gas to alert you when there’s a problem. If your furnace smells like gas or rotten eggs, turn it off right away, leave your home and call 911. Exposure to natural gas can make you sick, plus it’s highly flammable and explosive.
  3. Musty. If your furnace smells musty, you might have mold and mildew flourishing in your ductwork. We recommend having your ductwork checked and cleaned if necessary.

Now that you know which furnace smells are normal and which ones aren’t, you’re well-equipped to take care of your new furnace. If you're worried about an odd odor, our Contra Costa Heating & AC HVAC technicians can help. Give us a call at 510-343-9841 to schedule your appointment today. We provide quality, affordable furnace repair in the Bay Area and surrounding areas.