There aren't many things more frustrating than an air conditioning that refuses to run. A hot, muggy home can make your space incredibly uncomfortable, which is why I have always focused on maintaining my air conditioning system. Unfortunately, I still run into problems from time to time and I am sure that all of you do, which is one of the reasons I decided to build this website. Check out these posts for more information about keeping your system working beautifully, even if you aren't naturally good at fixing things. You never know, making the right changes could dramatically improve your summertime experience.
Under normal circumstances, you should not be able to smell your home's gas furnace while it is running. Occasionally, you may smell the odor of dust burning off, especially if it has not been running for more than a few days. This odor is normal, and usually dissipates within a few minutes.
However, when there is a serious problem with the furnace, it may give off a strong odor to warn you. Below are a couple of gas furnace odors you should always be on the lookout for that indicate an issue that requires immediate action and emergency repairs.
1. Pungent Odor of Formaldehyde Means the Furnace's Heat Exchanger Is Cracked
If you are smelling a pungent odor that reminds you of the formaldehyde used to preserve the specimens in your middle school biology class, it means that the heat exchanger in the furnace is cracked. Normally, to keep you from breathing in carbon monoxide and other fumes produced when natural gas combusts, the heat from the flame is transferred to the circulating air safely inside the heat exchanger.
However, if the casing that shields these fumes becomes cracked, the odor given off by the escaping fumes will smell like formaldehyde. When you detect this odor, you need to turn off the furnace and call an emergency furnace repair professional after leaving your house.
2. Foul Smell of Rotting Eggs Means Your Furnace or Gas Lines Are Leaking Natural Gas
When a furnace first kicks on and ignites the natural gas, it is common to catch the faint, fleeting smell of rotten eggs, which is caused by a small amount of gas being released into the air before it is ignited. This odor is caused by a chemical called mercaptan that is added to the otherwise odorless gas.
However, if the foul odor remains and becomes stronger, this means the furnace or gas lines are leaking natural gas. Get out of your house immediately to avoid breathing in the poisonous air and minimize the risk of an explosion, and contact an emergency furnace repair technician once you are safely away.
Whether you detect the odor of formaldehyde or rotten eggs, these smells mean that toxic fumes are present in your home. If possible, turn off your furnace before leaving your house. Once you are safely outside, call a 24-hour emergency furnace repair service in your area to speak with a representative to have them send someone immediately who can find and fix the cause of the odor.