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Why Does My Heater Smell?

Let’s set the scene: It’s a chilly day in Birmingham with blustery winds blowing and all you want to do is curl up in a blanket and get cozy in your home — but wait. Your heater is producing an odd smell! Where is that smell coming from and how can you fix it?

Skelton’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can tell you exactly what that smell is. Furnace odors are not uncommon, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. If your furnace smells bad, it’s best to call a professional. Keep reading to learn what different odors from your heater mean and how a Birmingham heater repair can help you!

Burning Dust

The only normal odor from your heater may occur when you first turn the heater on for the winter. Due to its disuse during the summer and spring, your furnace may collect a little dust. When the heating system turns on, that dust burns off. This is why your heater might smell like something is burning. *It’s important to note that if this smell does not fade away in a few hours, it’s a good idea to call on a professional.

Burning Plastic

Now, if you smell other materials burning or suspect a component is overheating, you should shut down the system right away. Plastic, rubber or metallic burning smells likely mean that something is melting or overheating. Don’t risk damaging your furnace further or starting a fire. Just call our team to fix it!


If your heater smells musty or sour, you could have mold growing. Mold can thrive anywhere there is moisture, and it can significantly affect your health if allowed to spread. If you see visible signs of mold inside your furnace or HVAC system (or even the air ducts!) get a professional’s help quickly. Mold spores need to be completely eradicated from the area to prevent them from growing back, so have a pro take care of it!


A furnace heats your air by combustion, which means that smoke is produced during the process. An operating furnace expels this smoke through an exhaust pipe, but that pipe can become clogged or blocked. If you notice smoke smells entering your home (especially a large amount), open some windows and shut down your heating system. Always take the safest course of action for your health while waiting for professionals to assess the problem.

Rotten Eggs

As part of the combustion process, your furnace also produces small amounts of carbon monoxide. Usually, this gas is kept far from your home. However, if a CO leak does occur, the odorless, colorless gas is impossible to identify. This is why many gas manufacturers insert a scent into natural gas. If you smell a strong odor of rotten eggs, you should treat it seriously. A natural gas leak could be very dangerous for your family and your home. If you suspect a natural gas leak, leave your home immediately. Call emergency services once you’ve left the area.

Furnace Repair To Clear The Air!

When you start smelling an unpleasant odor from your heater, don’t just suffer through it. Let our heater repair team ensure that you’re safe and comfortable by getting rid of that foul smell. Skelton’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing has your back, so give us a call today!

Why Choose Us?

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We have been fully accredited by the BBB for many years.
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Our highly trained and certified AC technicians are dedicated to offer 5-star AC service every time.
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We're humbled to be considered one of the top air conditioning companies in the Birmingham area.
We worry so that you don't have to. We offer stress-free service calls and AC installations.

What Our Customers Are Saying

We had a great experience with Skelton’s!

We had a great experience with Skelton’s! Our dog damaged the wiring on our A/C condenser, and it stopped working while the highs were still in the 80’s. Skelton’s came out the next day and got our condenser working again. Would recommend them and use them again!

Mary B.

Very Professional and Responsive

Skelton’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing is very professional and responsive. I was able to request service via an online service request form one evening and was called promptly the next morning. I was subsequently able to have service performed within 2 hours. When your AC is not working this is like finding gold! I highly recommend them.

Robert Q.

Prompt and Courteous Team

Outstanding service. Professional installers with attention to detail. Prompt and courteous team that showed up on time and worked quickly and efficiently. My new unit was shown to me completely and they helped me set up my wireless/smart thermostat. I would highly recommend. Reasonably priced top notch installation and cleaning.

Mike D.