Why Does Your New Furnace Smell Like Burning Plastic?

Is your new furnace smelling like burning plastic? Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for your new furnace to smell foul when first used. First, however, you have to evaluate where the smell is coming from and rule out serious and dangerous problems.

This article describes the main reasons for your new furnace to smell like burning and what you can do about it. If you need professional assistance, Hurliman Heating is there to help you.

All the reasons behind your new furnace burning plastic smell

A new furnace needs to be used a few times for any smell to go away. It is pretty common to experience a weird and unusual smell with a new system. The coating and the materials coming into contact with the hot air can be responsible for it.

But, even new furnaces can malfunction. If that is the case, it is dangerous not to act on it. Here are the reasons for a burning smell coming out of your furnace:

  1.  Objects in the HVAC system

A burning plastic smell can simply be a plastic object falling into the HVAC system coming in contact with hot air and burning. Although it may seem difficult to happen, it is necessary to verify.

To look for the presence of an object inside the system, you have to turn off the power in your home for security reasons. Then investigate inside the furnace’s air filters to see if you can locate any object or piece of plastic.

If still there are no signs of objects, you could try removing the cover from the heating unit to locate a potential build-up of dirt around the coil.

  1.  Burned electrical wires

Electrical wires are covered by a plastic cover meant to act as protection. But if it comes in contact with very high temperatures, it can start to melt and burn. If this happens, it is hazardous, and it can culminate in the development of a fire.

Other burned electrical items can emanate the same smell. For example, if you smell the burning plastic when you turn on or off the system, the problem could be related to the electrical components inside the system. If your furnace is not new, it is more likely that old electrical components need replacement, and the wire insulation becomes frangible.

To resolve this situation, you need to call a professional to come and do an inspection and change any damaged electrical components.

  1.  Dust

Even new systems can accumulate dust when not used for a while. But, the furnace can attract dirt and dust particles from inside the house, and when those particles come in contact with the heat, they stink of burning. Typically, you will smell it when the furnace is turned on if this is the case.

You can do more vacuum cleaning in your home and remove excess dust that your furnace can suck in to prevent it from happening. You could take the time to do a good cleaning around the vents and make sure to replace dirty filters.

  1. Furnace protective finish

A protective finish is applied to specific parts of the furnace to prevent it from rusting and deteriorating. However, when the coating comes in contact with the heat or some of the gasses produced by the system, a burning smell can appear.

The coating produces this type of smell only the first few times that a new furnace is activated. But if the problem persists, it is always better to call a technician.

  1. Burned filters

A clogged filter can cause a burning smell because it is responsible for too much dusty air inside the system. The burned dust is what generates the smell.

In addition, a clogged filter can make the blower motor work excessively and overheat, which creates a burning smell as well. Changing the filters regularly can prevent this situation from happening.

  1. Heat exchanger not functioning

The heat exchanger is a metal shield placed between the combustion chamber and the blower, and it is responsible for distributing the hot air from the furnace to the ducts and into the house. If the heat exchanger breaks or overheats, you could smell burned plastic in the house.

When the heat exchanger has a problem, it can make the entire unit hotter than usual with the potential danger of melting any plastic materials. So if the problem is the heat exchanger, you have to get professional assistance.

  1. Lose parts in the furnace

The furnace is made of various components, and if they come loose or dislodged from their original position can melt and generate a burning smell. This is difficult to happen on a new system unless there is a manufacturing problem.

If you smell burning for too long, it is better to call a technician to rule out any dislodging, and in case there is one part out of place, fix it immediately.

Other reasons for a smelling furnace

A furnace can produce other smells, indicating different situations that may require a prompt resolution. For example, you could smell gas or a rotten egg smell. This is a hazardous situation that requires an immediate response. Therefore, the system should be turned off immediately, and emergency services called.

If you smell musty, it indicates the presence of mold inside the ductwork or somewhere within the HVAC system. Although it may not be as dangerous as a fire hazard, mold produces tiny particles that propagate in the air and can create problems for people’s health.

If your furnace smells like smoke, it signifies the presence of something burning or even fire. Everything should be turned off, and a professional should come to investigate the situation. There are other things you could detect not working correctly within the furnace.

For example, if you experience a banging sound, frequent cycling, or weak airflow, you should figure out what is happening and even get a professional to help.

When you have a furnace smelling like burning plastic, it is essential to investigate further the issue if the smell is not going away after a while. Some adjustments can be made by yourself, like changing the filters and keeping the environment clean, but if you do not manage to resolve it or are unsure of what is going on, it is necessary to get a technician.

If you need the help of a professional, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.

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1 comment

  • Olivia Smart says:

    Thank you for explaining that the heat exchanger could be broken over overheated if you smell burning plastic. I’ve been smelling something like this for the last hour or so in our home. I’ll be sure to call someone over soon to take a look at it.