Your Nose Knows: Using Odors To Detect Problems With Your Gas Furnace

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Having a functional furnace makes it possible for you to easily maintain a comfortable temperature within your home. Many of today's homes (85% to be exact) are equipped with furnaces powered in part by natural gas. Your nose can be a valuable tool for detecting issues in your gas heating system.

Here are three types of odors you should be attuned to when it comes to detecting problems with your gas furnace in the future.

1. Musty or Moldy Smell

The first time your turn on your gas furnace as the temperature begins to drop you should expect a bit of a dusty smell to come from your vents as dust that has accumulated over the summer is cleared out. If the smell doesn't subside, or if you notice a musty or moldy smell coming from your heating vents, these odors could signal a serious problem.

Moisture that accumulates inside your ventilation system can contribute to the growth of mold and mildew. In 2004 the Institute of Medicine discovered a link between indoor mold and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy adults and children, so calling a technician to investigate any musty or moldy smells coming from your heating vents is a great way to protect both the integrity of your heating system and your family's health.

2. Burning Smell

Another odor that can alert you to a serious problem with your heating system is a burning smell. If you begin to notice that an odor resembling the type emitted when plastic melts or electrical wires burn, this smell could be telling you that the blower motor in your furnace is overheating.

If left unchecked, a malfunctioning blower motor could render your entire heating system useless, resulting in between $2,298 and $5,550 in expenses related to the installation of a new furnace. Contact a repair technician immediately if you smell an acrid burning coming from your heating vents.

3. Rotten Egg Smell

The odor that many people describe as a rotten egg smell can often be the smell associated with a natural gas leak. Natural gas has no inherent smell, but it contains a toxic gas known as carbon monoxide. Exposure to carbon monoxide can cause flu-like symptoms, headaches, and even death.

Gas companies add a substance called mercaptan to natural gas supplies before they are sent into homes to help homeowners detect natural gas leaks. The mercaptan is responsible for the rotten egg smell you may notice coming from your heating vents. Be sure to turn off the supply of natural gas coming into your home and contact a repair technician immediately if you smell a rotten egg odor in your home.

Using your nose to identify potential problems with your furnace will ensure you are able to invest in repairs before serious damage to your family's health or your heating system occurs. Companies like A Bailey Plumbing may be able to help meet your needs in this area.


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