plastic toys

Unusual smells in any corner of the house could be caused by the furnace. Your HVAC system blows air through your whole home. So, if you smell burning plastic, or another unusual smell, check down by your furnace to see if it’s the source. You won’t be able to follow the smell directly, because the HVAC vents are the bringing the smell throughout your home.

If you do find that it’s your furnace that smells like burning plastic, what could be going on? There are a few possible causes of this annoying smell, and some are safety hazards that are best to deal with right away.

Foreign Object

If the smell is distinctly plastic, chances are a plastic item has fallen into or otherwise been trapped in your furnace. Few modern furnaces have plastic components that aren’t able to withstand the hot conditions the furnace creates. A plastic that’s liable to burn in the furnace must have been introduced. Commonly, children or pets place their toys in or near the furnace. Or, plastic objects stored nearby fall in.

No matter how the plastic object got in, you will need to find it and remove it. Not only can the smell be annoying, but some plastics create fumes when they are burnt that are not safe to breathe in. First, turn off your furnace can give it time to cool. Then take a peek on top of it, inside it, and in the ducts directly connected to it. If you can’t find the object, it may have made its way further into the ducts, so you’ll have to call a professional to look.

Burning Filters

A plastic-like burning smell may also be from a furnace filter. Certain fabrics have plastic threads that might find their way into the filter. If the filter isn’t regularly cleaned out, the build-up of hairs, threads and dust may begin to burn from the heat of the furnace. If this is the cause, the solution is simply cleaning out the filter. Set a reminder in your calendar to do this cleaning every six months, or have your HVAC professional clean it when they perform maintenance on your furnace.

Frayed Electrical Wiring

Frayed electrical wiring is a serious problem. If the plastic or rubber casing or your wires has torn off, the exposed wire can cause sparks and start fires. It can also heat up any nearby objects. If that’s plastic or if the case of the wire itself was plastic, it may cause a plastic burning smell. If you notice exposed wires near your furnace, be sure to call an hvac technician immediately for a furnace repair. It’s critical to get this problem addressed by a professional as soon as you find it, as frayed electrical wiring is a primary cause of house fires.

Is your furnace giving off a smell that isn’t quite plastic? Any furnace smell could indicate a problem, whether it’s burning, rotten egg or plastic. If you’re not sure of the cause of your furnace’s odd smell, or if you have found the cause but can’t fix it, call the professionals at Irish Heating and Air. We offer heating services in Modesto, Tracy and throughout the Central Valley, so help is never far away.