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Weird Odor Coming From the Furnace? Here’s What it Could Mean

You rely on your furnace to keep you comfortable during the long, cold Calgary winter, and problems with your system can really ruin your day. Sometimes, the first indication of a problem manifests in a furnace smell that doesn’t seem quite right. Here are some common smells you may encounter and what they might mean.

Electrical or Metallic

An electrical or metallic furnace smell could mean that some of the components of your furnace are getting too hot, or it could mean the motor is overheating or the heat exchanger has a crack in it.

Rotten Eggs

Natural gas has no odor in its natural state. For optimum safety, a sulfuric odor is added to the gas to help detect leaks. This odor smells like rotten eggs, and this is a furnace smell you don’t want to ignore. If you smell rotten eggs, leave your home and call your gas company immediately.

Burning Dust

The first time you turn on your furnace for the season, you’ll likely smell burning dust. This is normal and indicates that any dust on the components of your furnace are burning off. If the smell persists, check the air filter and replace it if it’s dirty. Still smell it? Call for service.

Burning Rubber

If you smell burning rubber from your furnace, it could indicate a failing belt. A service call is essential for preventing further damage and ensuring your furnace doesn’t break down altogether.


A musty furnace smell when you first turn the system on for the season is common, but if it persists, it could indicate dirty ductwork or a dirty air filter. If a filter change doesn’t remedy the situation, you may need your ducts cleaned.

Preventive Maintenance is Key

Keeping your system in tiptop shape is largely a matter of scheduling preventive maintenance before the heating season commences. An annual tuneup includes a long list of tasks that will go a long way toward preventing problems with your system.

For more information about furnace smells, or to schedule a preventive tuneup, please contact Arpi’s Industries, proudly serving the Calgary area.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Calgary, Alberta about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about furnace smells and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide.

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