Why Is There a Burning Smell When You Turn Your Heat On?

A burning smell coming from your air vents is a common problem many people face when they turn on their heating system or furnace. While alarming, this problem can be identified and resolved. Continue reading to discover the most common reasons for a burning smell coming from your HVAC system: 

Clogged Air Filters  

The first thing you should do when you notice a burning smell coming from your air vents is to check the air filters. Clogged air filters can cause a burning smell from the warm air blowing through the vents. If this is the cause, simply replace your air filters and the burning smell should subside. While clogged air filters are unlikely to cause a fire, they can pose a health hazard and lead to decreased air quality. 

Dusty Air Vents 

Like clogged air filters, dusty air vents can also cause a burning smell when you turn on the heat. Dust is a common culprit of a burning smell coming from your heating system. If you’ve recently had construction, remodeling, or deep cleaning done in your home, you need to make sure that your air vents are free of dust. If you don’t dust your air vents, the dust can begin to burn, producing that unpleasant smell we are all familiar with. When in doubt, make sure your air vents are free of dust. 


Debris, like kids toys, pet toys, or any other object can also cause a burning smell from your air vents. Like dust, debris will heat up and produce a burning odor. If you have kids or pets, it’s a great idea to check your air vents regularly to ensure they are free of debris or foreign objects that pose a safety concern. 

Electrical Problem 

A burning smell can also be a sign of a more serious problem: electrical issues. Electrical problems can cause a burning smell and should be taken care of immediately. If you suspect the burning smell to be from wiring or another electrical source, make sure to call your local HVAC professional as soon as possible so they can diagnose and resolve the issue. Electrical problems can be caused by wear and tear, rodents, or faulty wiring, and it is extremely important that it is assessed and repaired by a professional.

Still concerned about the smell? Give us a call today at (919) 367-3818 to schedule an appointment with our team of HVAC experts who can help solve your HVAC problems!