Arizona hvac services

Winter is a beautiful season, but without your space heater, it can be horrible. When your room gets uncomfortably cold, the next thought that crawls into your mind is to turn on your heater. Nobody wants their space heater to go bad in these periods. Do you turn on your heater and perceive a burning icky smell that belches from your heater, ruining your warm air? 

There’s no cause for alarm. This is because you’ve not used your heater for a long time during the summer. You can easily fix some of these concerns, while professionals will need to handle the others. 

There wouldn’t be a need for concern if you know what to do in these conditions. If you want to stay in the know, keep reading as we will show you what smells in your heater imply, and if they need any prompt measure.

Let’s get started!

Should You Feel Worried If Your Heater Emits A Burning Smell?

Short answer: No 

Long answer: when you turn on your heater and perceive a dust-like burning smell, it’s entirely normal. You don’t need to worry, because all the dust that got stuck in your heating unit is burning off. But, if you perceive a more disturbing smell, let’s say, an electrical burning smell, you should be worried. Your home could be in danger of a fire outbreak. 

It is better to be safe than sorry. If you suspect that your heater is emitting an electrical burning smell, you should contact a qualified professional to examine and repair the heater. Do not try to fix it yourself. It can be dangerous or you could make the problem worse.


What Causes This Smell When You Turn Your Heater On?

Specks of dust, mildew, a jammed exhaust vent, or electrical faults can produce this burning icky smell. We have laid down some reasons for this and what you should do for each situation.

Let’s usher them in!

1. A smell of burning dust 

This is one of the common whiffs you’ll perceive when your heater is on. This is because, during summer, dust and other kinds of debris accumulate on the burners, heat exchangers, air ducts, and other parts of the heating unit. When you turn your heater on, this dust and debris burn off, discharging a smoky smell.


If you perceive a smell of burning dust, allow your heater to function for a few minutes. There will be no need to worry if the burning smell reduces or stops after a while.

But, if the smell persists, turn off your heater and try replacing the air filter. If the smell continues after you’ve done this, quickly turn your heater off. You will need emergency maintenance by an technician.

Also, you can prevent this kind of smell by cleaning up your heater before you turn it on in winter.

2. Stale Smell

Another kind of whiff you may perceive when turning on your heater for the first time in winter is a stale smell. What this means is that there is mold or mildew inside your heating unit or venthole. Also, if your heater has a humidifier protector or furnace filter, this mustiness can grow inside them, causing the unpleasant smell you now perceive.


This mold and mildew burn off after a while. If it continues, remove your air filters and humidifier pad and dip them in a solution of vinegar and water, then wash properly. You can also replace them where necessary. This smell can also be prevented by cleaning your heater and vent hole regularly.

However, if it persists after you’ve done this, or you’re having difficulties in removing this mustiness, turn off your heater and call an specialist to conduct a routine inspection.

3. Rubber or plastic burning smell

A foreign object stuck in your vent hole causes the rubber or plastic burning smell that emits from your heating system. Your kids’ playthings or small objects in your home can get stuck in your HVAC system. In winter, these objects send off a distasteful rubber or plastic burning smell when you turn on your heater. 


What you should do when you perceive this smell is to do a routine check on each room vent in your home. The idea is to locate where the scent is strongest. When you find it, open the vent and pull out any object that shouldn’t be there.

If you’re having difficulty locating or removing the object generating the smell, switch off your HVAC system and contact an expert.

4. Electrical burning smell

If your heater emits an electrical burning smell, it is very risky. This requires prompt attention. Your heater, just like any other electrical device in your home, can get worn out after being used for some years. 

This can be a result of faulty wiring or the electric motor can become faulty and start overheating. The heat can melt the wire insulation’s, causing a spark. Sparks aren’t healthy signs. They can emit unpleasant electrical burning whiffs which become risky if left unattended. 


If your heating system is emitting an electrical burning smell, it’s a cause for alarm. Turn off your heater and contact an HVAC expert.

Why You Need A HVAC Expert

Regular quarterly maintenance is a wise strategy to keep your heating system from giving off burning smells. But if you notice unusual whiffs emitted from your heating system, it’s a sign that there is a problem that requires your prompt attention. Some of them are risky and require an HVAC expert to fix the problem immediately. You wouldn’t want a faulty heating system to obstruct your warmth this winter.