Air Conditioning Heating and Ventilation Services

SOLVED: Why Does My Heater Smell Like It’s Burning? 

There’s a reason the AC comes first around here. Save this article for when it’s a wintery, cold day in Tampa Bay, Florida. (Yes, we have those.) 


While we don’t have to rely on our heaters as other places do, they still get turned on….occasionally.  When it gets a little chilly inside at night, the last thing you want is to be hit with a strong burning smell throughout your home.

Unfortunately, this is a common problem that can be caused by a variety of issues. Our team of HVAC experts answer a common question- “Why Does My Heater Smell Like It’s Burning?” 


Key Takeaways:  
  • Dust build-up in the heating elements from minimal use 
  • Components are overheating from excessive use (probably not the case here in Tampa Bay, but you never know…luckily, we do.) 
  • Clogged vents and full furnace filter 
  • Electrical malfunction. This is a major fire hazard and should be immediately addressed 
  • Foreign objects in your heating system 


Since it can be difficult to know which is the cause without investigating further, it is best to give us a call right away so we can discover the issue and ensure you and your home are safe.


‘Burning’ Heater Reason #1: Dust in the Unit 


One of the most common causes of a burning smell in a heater is dust that has accumulated on the heating elements. Here in Florida, our heaters don’t get too much use, so this one happens a lot!  


Dust that collects on your heater during extended shut-off periods will burn off when you reactivate your heater. That smell then flows through your air vents until the dust burns away.

It’s usually nothing to worry about, but if you experience a burning smell after not using your heater for a while, let the heater operate for ten minutes or so. If the burning smell disappears or decreases significantly, there’s no need for concern. If the odor persists, you should contact an expert like the pros at ACHV Services. 


‘Burning’ Heater Reason #2: Overheating Components 


If you’ve been using your heater frequently during cold weather, there’s a chance that components might be overheating due to excessive use. Unless you REALLY miss the Summer beach days in the winter months, it’s not common to run into this issue here in Florida. 


However, this can be caused by other issues, such as a malfunctioning thermostat, or clogged vents. 


‘Burning’ Heater Reason #3: Dirty & Clogged Vents 

When the furnace filter gets old or clogged, it can cause the heating elements to overheat and produce a burning smell. To fix this problem, you’ll need to have the vents cleaned and the furnace filter replaced.

They say a little maintenance can go a long way. Our team at ACHV Services can help! We recommend cleaning the vents once a year to ensure that your heating system is running efficiently and safely. 


‘Burning’ Heater Reason #4: Electrical Malfunction 


Over time, wires and other electrical components in your heater can become worn down and cause overheating issues. As you could imagine, faulty wiring is a major fire hazard!

This is one of the reasons that an inspection is so important, as unless you get a professional to assess the problem, you’re risking more harm than good. ACHV Services can diagnose and repair any potential electrical issue in your heater. 


‘Burning’ Heater Reason #5: Something Is in Your Heating System 


Sometimes, debris can make its way into the heating system. Here are a few common items that we see burn, clog, or emit a foul odor in HVAC systems:

  • Toys, hair ties, and other small items can get sucked into vents. 
  • Rodents, birds, or bugs might try to make themselves at home in your ducts. 
  • Leaves, twigs, and pieces of wood can clog the system over time.

Needless to say, having anything stuck inside your heater is bad news. The good news? ACHV Services can help with all of these issues. We’ll inspect your system, remove any debris, and make sure everything is running smoothly.  



Does Your Heater Have a Burning Smell? Call ACHV Services Today 


Now that you have a better understanding of why your heater smells like it’s burning, it’s time to call ACHV services. The bottom line; unless the smell goes away soon, you should always get your heating unit inspected by an experienced HVAC professional.  


Our technicians have years of experience and will be sure to resolve any issue with your system quickly and safely. Give us a call today and let us take care of it all! 


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