Of your five senses, your sense of smell is probably the most powerful. Your nose is more sensitive than either your eyes or your ears. That may be why your sense of smell is connected to your memory. Your sense of smell can come in handy when it comes to detecting problems with appliances – like your heater – in your home. Your nose is able to pick up on problems that aren't visible and that can't be seen, and because smell is connected to memory, you'll probably be able to make the connection between the smell and the problem after you've experienced it once. Here are some common smells that you might detect from your heater, and what those smells mean in terms of heater repair.
Rotten Eggs Smell
If you have a gas heater, you should be on the alert if you turn it on and detect the smell of rotten eggs. This is sulfur, and if you're smelling it, it means that somewhere in your heating system, the gas is leaking. As a matter of fact, that smell exists specifically to warn you that you have a gas leak somewhere. Natural gas is actually odorless – the sulfur smell is a chemical called mercaptan that is added in order to let you know there's a problem before you succumb to the effects of the gas.
If you smell rotten eggs while running a gas heater, don't wait around or try to locate the source of the leak. Even turning a light on or off or using the telephone could be dangerous in a house where gas is leaking. Leave the house immediately, then call the gas company for help.
Usually, homeowners encounter a burning smell shortly after turning the heater on for the first time in the fall or winter. Sometimes you can smell it immediately, but in other cases you may begin smelling it only after the heater has been on for a few hours or even a few days. There is good news about this smell – most of the time it only means that your heater is dusty after sitting around unused for several months.
The burning smell may not be the most pleasant odor to put up with, but if you can grin and bear it for around 45 minutes, it usually goes away on its own as the dust burns off. However, if the smell persists, it may be a sign that some of the insulating material inside of the heating ducts has come loose. While this is not usually a fire hazard, because insulation is fire retardant, you might still want to have it removed in order to get rid of the smell.
A fishy smell might occur when you first turn your heater on, or it could come out of nowhere after you've been running your heater without incident for a while. This is one of the more difficult smells to pin down, because it has several possible sources.
It could be that a mouse or other small animal has crawled into your heating ducts and died. Some homeowners report that a decaying pest produces a fishy smell as it goes through your air vents. Having your ducts cleaned out can eliminate this problem.
However, burning plastic can also produce a fishy odor. There are a few reasons why you may smell burning plastic coming from your heating system. A child's plastic toy dropped into the heating register could melt and cause the smell, for example. More concerning causes of a fishy smell could be an overheated motor or a cracked heat exchanger.
If you can't locate the source of the smell, you should call an HVAC technician to inspect your heating system. The technician can check your heater's electrical components to rule out overheating or burning electric parts, and can professionally clean your ducts to get rid of any dead animals that might have made their way into your duct system.
Strange smells can be a serious cause for concern, and it's important to pay attention to what your nose is trying to tell you. If your heater is giving off a scent that you don't recognize or can't find the source of, it's always better to call in a heating repair professional to inspect and find the problem.
Visit http://www.avisac.com to learn more.