If Your Furnace Smells, It May Need a Clean

Updated on November 26th 2023
Gas furnace's interior ductwork

The air in your home – every home, in fact – should smell fresh and clean, free of scents of mustiness, pet odors, and any others wafting through your furnace and ductwork. That’s one of the reasons the air freshener market is so huge, with retailers selling a wide variety of candles, sprays, and plug-in fresheners to mimic different scents in every room in your home.

But that could be a problem. If you have scented candles in every room or boxes of odor-absorbing baking soda tucked behind picture frames, you may need furnace cleaning as a dirty furnace and ductwork can affect the air quality throughout your residence.

Why Does Your Ductwork Stink?

The professional team at Steve's Air Duct Cleaning have cleaned local air ducts for more than 40 years. Over that time, we’ve encountered just about everything that can make ductwork stink and send nasty odors wafting throughout your home. Some sources of foul odors are predictable and easy to remedy, others can be occasionally unexpected and take more effort. Here are the most common reasons ductwork may stink.

  • Dust

    This is a common occurrence and a source of discomfort if you have allergies. Dust, which has an odor all its own, can accumulate inside your furnace during the warmer months. When the furnace starts running, it burns up the dust from the off-season and disperses it through your home’s air ducts. The remedy? Call a furnace cleaning professional to clean your furnace and evaporator coil each year before the cold winter weather arrives.

  • Mold or Mildew

    If your home has underground ductwork, mold and mildew are a typical source of bad household smells. Over time, water can leak into underground system components – evaporator coil drain trays and drains and humidifiers – and create not only putrid odors, but health concerns in the form of mold. The remedy? Cleaning your humidifier, evaporator coil, and ducts is the best way to handle odors from mold and mildew, but underground systems may require more intense effort resulting in the ductwork lined and sealed by a qualified professional.

  • Faulty Furnace Components

    Unless you have your furnace cleaned or maintained on a regular basis, you’re asking for trouble. As electrical parts age, they become failure-prone, often overheating, or experiencing burnouts resulting in the distinct odor of burnt wires or melting plastic. The remedy? Contact Steve's Air Duct Cleaning or your local furnace cleaning professionals for a yearly inspection, because even if your unit appears to be working, the motor or other electrical component may be overheating and close to failure. Get this checked out before it's too late.

  • Dead Animals

    This is a worst-case scenario for homeowners and furnace cleaning professionals alike. No one likes the thought of removing decaying animal carcasses from HVAC systems, but the fact of the matter is furry or feathery animals like a warm environment to live in just like we do. Countless birds and chipmunks have been known to meet their maker in chimneys and inducer fans, while mice and other rodents in search of nesting materials from filters, wiring, and flexible air ducts, never take another breath. How do you get rid of these odors? Look for signs of damage in the inducer fan, flue pipe, blower compartment, and ductwork, and search for a dead animal carcass. The animal carcass is then removed, and the affected ducts or components are cleaned and disinfected.

  • What About Simple Cleaning and Maintenance?

    One of the reasons we’ve been in this business for so long is because we pride ourselves on quality work at affordable prices, are honest with customers about what can and can’t be done and strive to educate homeowners on easy steps they can take in order for their HVAC systems to run at peak efficiency. There are, of course, certain repair and replacement tasks the average homeowner can’t do themselves, but simple cleaning and maintenance is possible. Here are some things to consider doing on your own, but please reach out if you have any questions.

  • Air filters can be easily replaced

    High-quality air filters can be purchased at many retailers, but it’s important to make sure you install filters recommended by a furnace cleaning professional or your furnace manufacturer. Clean air filters help your furnace work at peak efficiency. A dirty air filter causes the furnace to work harder to distribute through the system, using costly energy and resources. Replacing the air filters each year is a simple process that could reduce utility bills, keep your furnace working properly, and helps eliminate noxious odors from your home.

  • Light cleaning goes a long way

    Keeping the exterior of the furnace free of dust and detritus is important and may help avoid expensive repairs in the future. You may also want to clean the blower assembly, located next to the air filter, and is the next place air goes. An instruction manual should have come with the furnace and will help locate the blower location, but a furnace cleaning professional can also provide advice. A damp cloth should work nicely.

  • Finally, don’t forget the vents throughout your home. Vents in each room are critical to airflow, so make sure they are clean and free of any debris. They normally attach to walls or floors with screws, and can be easily removed for quick cleaning.

    A Furnace Cleaning Professional You Can Trust

    Steve’s Air Duct Cleaning is proud to serve residential and business customers throughout Denver. Drop us a note or call us today at (720) 419-7792 to arrange an HVAC inspection.

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    Start Breathing Easier.

    Your air ducts are the lungs of your home and keeping them clean keeps you and your family healthier and your HVAC equipment working optimally.