Is it Normal for a New Furnace to Smell?

December 08, 2021

Have you recently had a new furnace installed and are now noticing an unusual smell? You're not alone, because many other homeowners also experience this at first. Let’s review what’s creating this smell, and when you can expect 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 smell.

Protective Finish

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

When your furnace runs for the first couple of times, the coating may emit a burning smell. This is standard and the smell should dissipate the more your furnace runs.

To be on the safe side, you’ll want to call a heating and cooling company if the smell persists. A burning smell that lingers can mean the motor is too hot or there’s an electrical problem, among other concerns.

Dust

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

One way you can decrease or prevent this smell is by having furnace maintenance done each 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 smells you should watch for and what they might mean.

  1. Burning plastic or rubber. If your furnace smells like burning plastic, you might have an electrical issue. Electrical wiring is coated in plastic to protect against 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 add sulfur to natural gas to warn you when there’s a leak. If your furnace smells like gas or rotten eggs, shut it off right away, leave your home and call 911. Exposure to natural gas can make you sick, plus it’s highly flammable and explosive.
  3. Musty. If your furnace smells musty, you might have mold and mildew flourishing in your ductwork. We recommend having your ductwork inspected and cleaned if needed.

Now that you know which furnace smells are normal and which ones aren’t, you’re ready to take care of your new furnace. If you're worried about an odd odor, our Honke Heating & AC HVAC technicians can assist you. Give us a call at 503-663-8033 to schedule your appointment today. We offer quality, affordable furnace repair in Gresham and surrounding areas.