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Is it Normal for a New Furnace to Smell?

December 08, 2021

Have you recently had a new furnace put in and are now experiencing an unusual smell? You're not alone, because a lot of other homeowners also have this happen at first. Let’s review what’s creating this smell, and when you can anticipate it to go away, as well as three other furnace smells you shouldn’t ignore.

Why Your New Furnace Smells

There are two explanations why a new furnace might stink.

Protective Finish

Your furnace has a special coating on specific parts to keep them from rusting. This may include the heat exchanger, which safely exhausts gases like carbon monoxide naturally created during the heating process.

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

To be on the safe side, you’ll want to call a heating and cooling company if the smell continues. A burning smell that sticks around can mean the motor has overheated or there’s an electrical problem, among other issues.

Dust

Dust accumulates inside your furnace when it’s idle in warm weather. That dust will burn off when you turn on your furnace in the fall, creating a burning smell. This smell should disappear within a few minutes.

One way you can reduce or prevent this smell is by having furnace maintenance done every 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 Disregard

While it’s less common for a new system to need furnace repair, it happens. Here are three other odors you should look out 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 coated in plastic to prevent shocks, and this smell is a sign that heat is melting this protective coating. To prevent a fire, turn off your furnace immediately and have it checked 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, shut it off immediately, evacuate your home and call 911. Exposure to natural gas can make you ill, plus it’s extremely flammable and explosive.
  3. Musty. If your furnace smells musty, you might have mold and mildew growing in your ductwork. We advise having your ductwork checked and cleaned if necessary.

Now that you are aware 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 Three Rivers Heating & Cooling HVAC technicians can help. Contact us at 503-213-4433 to schedule your appointment today. We provide quality, affordable furnace repair in Portland and surrounding communities.