Jul 17 2018 russelladmin
Why Is There a Strange Smell Coming from My Heater?

You don’t have many opportunities to turn on your heating system in Southern California. When you do start to run the heater, you might be surprised at discovering odd and unpleasant odors coming from the vents. What’s this about… and is it something you need to worry about?

There’s no single cause for strange odors emanating from a heating system. Below are some of the possible reasons for these smells and what you should do about them.

Billowing and burning dust

A Southern California furnace doesn’t see much “action” during the year, and that often means that dust will build up on it over the months. When the furnace turns on, it will start to blow this dust around the house. The dust cold also collect over the heat exchanger, so when the furnace turns on and the exchanger heats up, the dust will burn off and create an acrid odor. You shouldn’t worry about this—unless the smell persists. Regular maintenance will keep the furnace clean.


If you notice a moldy odor from the vents, it may be from mold developing inside the furnace filter. This is one of the reasons that you need to regularly replace the air filter, and should always start the heating season with a fresh filter. It’s also possible that the problem isn’t coming from the heating system, but from gaps and breaks in the ductwork that are drawing in moldy air from closed-in sections of the house. This problem will require professionals duct sealing to correct.

Overheating motors and cracked heat exchangers

An electrical burning smells can point to motors in a furnace or heat pump that are overheating and heading toward burning out. There’s also the chance of a cracked heat exchanger in a gas furnace, which can be dangerous because of the leaking of carbon monoxide. Shut down your heater and call for repair technicians.

When you need repairs for your home heating system, call on Russell’s Heating & Air Conditioning. We serve Beaumont, CA and throughout the Inland Empire and Desert Communities.

Request Service Estimate


We will be in touch with you to verify your appointment.

CALL: 855-689-4644