why does my furnace smell like fish?A fishy smell from your furnace is not only unpleasant but also potentially dangerous. Fishy odors coming from the furnace can indicate a critical electric problem in your home. When burned or heated, a chemical in electrical wires’ plastic coating emits a urine-like or fishy odor. Although the bad smell may travel through the Furnace vents, the electrical problem may not be from the HVAC system. An overheated electrical outlet such as a circuit breaker, switch, or extension cord can produce a smell that is then drawn through the system’s intake and then diffused through your house vents. Moreover, the smell could stem from an electrical problem in the furnace or air conditioner.

Although most odors do not indicate a serious problem, they reveal issues that need some attention. That is the reason why the furnace smell ranges from a decomposing animal to a dirty air filter. Fishy smells should raise some more concern since it raises from overloaded circuits, loose wires, and overheating electrical components.

An Electrical Component May Be Overheating

Electrical wires in appliances, outlets, switches, ceiling fans, and light fixtures can overheat, however, they should not. Damaged surges or wires from a faulty breaker can cause electrical components’ wires and plastic coating to melt, overheat and emit fishy odors. A fishy smell that comes through and goes indicates that there is an issue with a fixture, component, or appliance that turns on and off.

There Are Overloaded Circuits and Loose Electrical Wires.

Connections in junction boxes, outlets, switches, light sockets, and loose electrical wires can melt the plastic coating on the wires and lead to fires. Wires can loosen due to improper installation or naturally become loose over time. Wires can get damaged due to animals who chew on them and excessive movement. Light outlets, switches, and other recently worked-on or installed components can also lead to loose wiring issues. Old circuit breaker boxes need to be updated to prevent electrical problems and fires.

What to Do if You Detect a Fish Smell in Your Home

It is crucial to locate the fish smell source since it can be a possible electrical problem and fire hazard. The first thing you need to do is to turn off the furnace and then access the smell strength in each room. If you find that the smell disappears when you turn the furnace off, the electrical component near the system or HVAC system could be the source of the problem. If the smell continues when you turn the furnace off, then your electrical equipment or lights could be having the problem. In case you cannot determine the fishy smell source, then shut off all the power and contact a licensed HVAC professional or an electrician.

Fishy odors should never be overlooked. The smells might indicate that there are some electrical issues with your furnace system or any other electrical appliance. Loose or damaged wires in light fixtures, sockets, switches, outlets, and appliances emit a fishy smell when they melt and overheat their plastic coating. Whether you locate the odor source or not, turn off the power until an HVAC technician or professional electrician resolves the issue to reduce the risk of serious issues such as fire.