Why Does My Heat Pump Smell Like It Is Burning?
So you turn on your heat pump, and you smell something burning. What should you do? Who should you call first, the Snoqualmie fire department or one of our All Weather heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) experts?
First assess what the smell most likely is, and you may not need to call anyone.
It Does Not Pass the Smell Test
Of course, if you are still nervous because you just do not know, turn off your heat pump and give one of our highly trained professionals a call to come out to diagnose the smell for you.
What Is That Burning Smell?
There are several reasons your heat pump may be emitting a burning smell. These reasons may not require the fire department—unless, of course, you notice smoke and fire. Some smell situations, however, will require one of our HVAC professionals.
Here are five of the most common reasons for your heat pump’s burning smell:
1. Dust on Electric Heater Coil
This is the most common cause of a burning smell, especially if it is the first time you have turned on your heat pump for a long while or the first time the auxiliary heat kicks on due to dipping temperatures.
No matter how clean your home may be, there will still be dust and particles that make their way through the ductwork to your electric coils and land there. Turning on your heat pump for the first time (or your auxiliary heat coming on for the first time) will burn those particles off the coils, and this is what you smell.
If after a couple of cycles, or definitely after the first day, that smell is still hanging around, you should call a All Weather Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration team member to check it out. But if it disappears shortly, then dust is most likely the cause.
2. Closed Vents
When hot air is trapped within closed vents, you will smell it. The hot air has nowhere to go and will build up in the vents. You will smell this shortly after turning on your heat.
It is good practice to go around your Washington home to be sure all your vents are open before switching to heat. The blocked air could lead to serious problems with your HVAC system.
Once all your vents are open, allowing time for good airflow, and the smell has not dissipated, it may be time to shut off your heat and give us a call.
3. Clogged Filter
A dirty air filter causes your heat pump’s motor to work harder, thereby causing a burning smell and negatively affecting your indoor air quality. Check your air filter, and if it is dirty, change it, assessing if the burning smell disappears as a result.
If the smell goes away, you probably want to put a reminder on your calendar to change your filter more regularly. If the smell is still there, a call to our HVAC team is in order.
According to the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), keeping your air filter clean can help cut your energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent. This is yet another reason to keep your filter clean.
4. Stuff Inside Ducts
Sometimes materials or objects find their way inside the ductwork of your Snoqualmie home. Maybe your young niece dropped her favorite rubber duck down your air vent while she was visiting.
If you smell something like plastic or rubber burning, try to discover from which vent the smell is emanating. After you have pinpointed the vent, turn off your heat pump for the time being, but do not close this vent, as doing so could cause more damage.
If you can spot what is causing things, then simply reach in and remove the object or materials. But if you can’t determine the cause, you will need to call a All Weather Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration professional for assistance.
5. Electrical Issue
Although uncommon, a burning smell can point to an electrical issue. If you detect this specific smell, and it lingers after one or two heating cycles, turn off your heat pump and call one of our HVAC experts. It could be a serious issue.
Is the Smell Present During Air Conditioner Use?
Turn off your heat pump immediately if you notice a burning smell in your home while you are running your air conditioner. This is not at all normal and could signify something overheating in the air conditioning system.
Professional All Weather Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration troubleshooting is required—shut off your heat pump and make the call.
We Are Your Heat Pump Experts
The majority of the reasons you may smell burning are not serious and do not require a call to your Snoqualmie, WA, fire department. But perceiving a burning smell is not something to ignore.
If the smell persists after your assessment and any action you have taken to rectify the situation, turn off your heat pump, and call one our All Weather Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration experts at 425-463-9814 or request service online. We will be there promptly to help.