What’s That Burning Smell When You Turn On The Heater?

Have you switched on the heater yet this year? When the heater is turned on for the first time in months, it is quite common to smell musty, dusty, or burning odors. While these burning odors are not necessarily a fire hazard, they are unpleasant and can be irritating to people with asthma or allergies.

Where Does the Burning Smell Come From?

The burning scent is usually from dirt that accumulates in air vents, registers, and the furnace itself. If it smells musty, it can be sign that mold has grown in air ducts. For burning smells, check any floor registers to make sure that no plastic items are sitting on the registers. It is common for children’s plastic toys to melt after sitting on hot air registers too long.

How Can You Avoid the Furnace Smell?


Avoid the nasty “fall furnace” smell by having your air ducts cleaned before turning the furnace on for the first time. This will have the added benefit of improving your home’s indoor air quality. Also, inspect your air filters and change them if necessary.

When Will the Smell Go Away?

The burning furnace smell usually goes away within a couple of hours, but can linger for a couple days. If the furnace smells, open the windows and let the odor dissipate. If the odors linger after opening the windows, proceed to check filters and schedule an air duct cleaning if necessary.

Furnace Safety

  • Never store combustible materials near your home’s furnace.
  • Keep the area around the furnace clear. This means no bikes leaning against it or cardboard boxes stacked up.
  • If your home’s smoke detector or carbon monoxide alarm goes off after turning on the heater, get out immediately and call for help.
  • Likewise, call your utility provider if you smell natural gas.

Autumn is when you want to smell pumpkin pies, apple cider, and crackling fires, not musty, dusty, burning odors.

If you have fire damage in your home or business, Jenkins Restorations is here to help. We make the process of getting back into your home and back to your normal life a pain-free process.

Call 888.450.6580