A burning smell when turning on your heat? What you need to know.

 

 

When temperatures start to drop, it’s not uncommon for Jacksonville heating and air conditioning companies to get calls from customers about a burning smell when turning on the heat for the first time in the season. It’s likely not a cause for concern, but it’s good to know what the possible sources of any odors may be.

Dust in your AC system.

With our temperate climate in Jacksonville, heating systems can go unused for many months. After sitting idle during our long stretches of warm weather, some elements of your heating system may have accumulated a layer of dust. When you turn on your heat for the first time during the fall/winter season, that dust will burn off and emit an odor that circulates through your ductwork and into your home. The air ducts themselves may also have some dirt and dust that has settled in them if your system has been unused for any stretch of time. These are the most likely causes of the burning smell in your home at the beginning of the season.

Activating your heat strips.

Even well into the winter months, after you’ve been using your system frequently, you may notice this burning odor if temperatures are especially low or if you’ve adjusted your thermostat more than a few degrees to raise the temperature. This can be due to the heat strips in your air handler coming on to supplement your system’s attempt to increase the heat. Many heat pump systems include this heat strip-air handler combination. If you have a system with heat strips but they haven’t been activated for many months, they may also have built up some dust particles that will burn off when the strips come on for the first time.

Other possible causes.

Should you continue to notice a burning smell coming from your heating system beyond your initial use of it at the onset of colder weather, the culprit may be faulty heater components. Another cause may be debris or objects that have somehow come into contact with the parts of your system that produce your heat. One more serious problem is electrical shorts in your heat pump, which have the potential to melt wires or insulators.

What you can do.

While the burn-off of dust when turning on your system for the first time is the likely cause of an odor, if you continue to notice a burning smell, it’s best to call a professional heating and air conditioning technician to diagnose the problem.

Another good way to ensure your system stays problem-free is regularly scheduled preventive maintenance. In addition to checking to see that your system is operating safely, an annual checkup will keep your heating and cooling equipment in top condition, saving you money on energy costs and repair service. McGowan’s expert technicians can meet all of your system inspection, repair and maintenance needs.

If you’re concerned about odors in your heating and air conditioning system, we’ll be happy to schedule a visit from one of our technicians. Just call 904-278-0339 or fill out the form at right.

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