Learn From The Experts:
What Causes the Burning Smell When I Turn On My Furnace?

When you think of fall, what comes to mind? It might be children laughing on their way to school, sights of geese flying south, or the fresh smell of raked leaves. 

For us, we commonly think about the first time homeowners turn their furnace. And more often than not, we receive calls from people asking, “What causes the burning smell when I turn on my furnace?” They may describe the smell as rubber burning or singeing hair, but don’t panic! 

Though it might seem stressful when it smells of “rubbing burning or singeing hair” happen, but don’t panic! It might be normal. We’ve put together a list of some reasons why those orders occur and which ones may warn caution: 


When a furnace isn’t actively heating, dust and dirt can settle inside the unit and its parts. When you turn on your heater for the first time in the fall, these dirt and dust particles will start burning off, causing a slight burning smell. But this smell should go away pretty quick.  

If this smell lasts longer or persists beyond an hour, though, that is when you need to check other elements in the HVAC system. If left unchecked, the smell could indicate that there’s something wrong with one of two things: not enough airflow through filters due for any number of reasons. The simple solution is to change the filter. 

The other reason may be an issue with the motor. A quick inspection of the motor should tell you if additional issues require a Joplin’s technician to check. 


While that initial dusty/burnt smell is relatively common, some odors typically are not normal you should be aware of as well:

  • Electrical, metallic, or plastic burning smells: Be sure to track down the source of the smell with your nose. If a smell like electrical burning comes from your furnace, it could be an overheated motor or wiring issue. This is a time it is best to call a Carrier Factory trained Joplin’s expert technician to narrow down what is causing the smell.  
  • Clicking noise: Are you hearing some clicking sounds coming from a specific vent in your home? This is likely to be some sort of object lodged in the air vent. Again, call Bill Joplin’s to get this issue quickly resolved. 
  • Rotten eggs/sulfur: If you smell rotten eggs or sulfur in your home, there is a good chance of a gas leak. This can be dangerous and should always be handled by trained professionals. Call your local gas company immediately and leave the house until they arrive. They will check for leaks and take the proper steps to turn off the gas and vent the house. 


Your best bet to prevent a furnace issue of this type is to get in the habit of scheduling a fall furnace maintenance BEFORE the weather turns cold. We offer a preventative maintenance program at Bill Joplin’s that checks for these issues at least twice a year.

Our expert technicians will clean, check and inspect your entire system, then recommend any minor repairs that can keep your system running and your family comfortable and safe. 

We want your home to be as comfortable and warm this fall, winter, and into the early spring. Give us a call today at 972-737-5694 to make sure your furnace and heat pump are operating at peak conditions.

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Bill Joplin’s installed the A/C systems when I built my house almost 30 years ago and I’ve been using them for preventative maintenance and repair ever since. When it was time to replace my worn out systems, I never considered...
Patrick M
Had an outage on Labor Day in 105 degree heat in North Texas. Michael from Joplin’s was there in 1 hour and got our unit working again. Analyzed the problem and noticed it was a bad capacitor, and didn’t try...
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I was satisfied with the team that came out to change my evaporator coil! Mr Andrew and Mr. David were phenomenal. They were an effective team, providing us with their progress trying tokeep us informed. The job wasn’t easy and...
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Bill Joplin is The Best, have used them since ‘04 at 4 different homes. Others may be cheaper but so is their product and service. The actually put a total new system in current home less than other quotes and...
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Had two HVAC companies look at my non working outside unit. Both said I had a leak but from different spots. Both said I needed a new unit. I then called Joplin’s and they pinpointed the leak (at a totally...
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Joplin’s has always taken great care of us for over 20 years. Today was fantastic as our AC went out over Father’s Day weekend. They came to our rescue within two hours of our call and solved our problem in...
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