Whether you’re turning your furnace on for the first time, or it’s having trouble during the heating season, smells from the furnace are rarely a good sign. Furnace odors can be a sign that your heating system has been damaged in some way. If your Inverness, Alabama, home’s furnace has any of these smells, it’s time to call a technician for a repair.

Sulfur or Rotten Eggs

The gas we use to heat our homes doesn’t naturally have a smell. A sulfuric or rotten-egg smell is added to the gas to alert you of a leak in your system. This is a valuable feature that helps you identify when something is wrong with the systems and appliances that use this gas in your home. If you begin to smell rotten eggs from your furnace or anywhere else, leave your home and call an HVAC technician immediately to find and fix the leak.


If your air begins to smell musty, it may be that you have a biological growth in your HVAC system. The smell will probably not come from your furnace, but from ductwork the furnace sends the heated air through. These growths can cause health issues, so as soon as you smell them, you should plan on having your system cleaned.. As a bonus, having your ducts cleaned will improve your indoor air quality and the HVAC system’s overall efficiency.

Burning Dust

The smell of burning dust is common when you start your furnace for the first time in the winter. If it doesn’t go away after a few minutes, check your air filter to make sure it isn’t clogged. However, if the smell persists past a day or two, you may want to consider having an HVAC technician come check your furnace and system to make sure everything is running smoothly.

A consistent burning dust smell can mean many things, from dirty ductwork to an issue with your furnace. It’s best to call your HVAC professionals and let them determine where the smell is coming from and how to address it.

Burning Electrical Smell

If you notice a burning plastic smell from your furnace, it could be an indicator that your furnace is overheating and melting down important components in its wiring. These odors can smell like hot metal, rubber, or oil, and can be a sign that something is wrong with your furnace. Before your furnace overheats itself, you should turn it off to avoid further damages and call an HVAC technician to address the issue. Recognizing and reacting to this smell can save you from having to replace your furnace or having an expensive repair.

Chemical Smells

As soon as you notice any sort of chemical smell coming from your HVAC system, you need to leave your home. It may be best to open a window or two on your way out. Chemical smells are not a natural byproduct of a correctly operating furnace and they need to be addressed immediately. These smells may happen for a few reasons, including a cracked heat exchanger. Although carbon monoxide doesn’t have a smell, which is dangerous, any chemical smell is indication of a serious problem.


Furnaces have exhausts that lead out of your home. When these exhaust vents or flue pipes are blocked, the smoke and chemicals that are supposed to be led out of your home begin to fill it. Open a few windows to clear out your home, or leave it entirely if the smell is very strong. The fumes your furnace creates as it does its job can make you and your family sick. Make an emergency call to your local HVAC professional and have them assess the situation.

Your furnace generally makes it easy for you to know there’s something wrong with it. Whether it’s odd sounds, higher utility bills, or any of these tell-tale smells, you should always be on the lookout for signs your furnace needs repair.

If you want to bring your furnace back to its maximum performance levels or look at your replacement options, give our team at Skelton Heating, Cooling & Refrigeration a call at (205) 289-3413. Let us help you stop your furnace problems before they cause damage to your system.

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