Why Does My Gas Heater Smell When I Turn It On?

by | Oct 10, 2016

As the weather turns colder and we prepare for another winter season most people find themselves doing things for the first time that we haven’t had to worry about for months. Besides getting our yards and cars ready, its time to think about heating our homes again and it’s important to stay safe while you get your heating sources up and running for another year. As you do so, keep a few things in mind so you can keep yourself and your family safe.

Sometimes when you first start a gas heater you might notice a light, temporary odor. It shouldn’t last long and it shouldn’t be overwhelming. The smell could be for several reasons. It’s important to pay attention to the type of smell it is and if it lasts longer than a few minutes because the reasons could be very minor on up to something that could be very serious and dangerous. Carbon dioxide poisoning from a furnace or gas heaters kill people every year and has no smell at all.

Some of the normal reasons for your gas heater or furnace to smell could be the following. The first time you start your heater after a long time there may be a temporary burning smell. Dust that has built up while it wasn’t in use is burning off. The smell should only last for a few brief minutes and it is completely normal. A brand new heater will also smell briefly when it is fired up for the first time. This is also normal. If the heater has a filter, a light odor might indicate that it needs to be changed also.

Here are a few possible causes for the smell that could be dangerous. A gas odor could mean there is a leak in the exchanger. It’s important to turn off the heater immediately and make arrangements to get it fixed. Carbon dioxide has no smell and you will probably not even be aware that it is leaking. Some symptoms to be aware of include feeling tired all of a sudden, not being able to breath and experiencing a shortness of breath. Feeling sick to your stomach and dizzy are also symptoms.

If any smell is evident and lasts longer than an hour you should have your heater inspected.

Regular servicing, at least every other year, should be added to your schedule and will help keep your heater running smoothly. Maintenance will also keep it running as long and as efficiently as possible.

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