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What to Do When You Find a Burning Smell From HVAC Vents

Barry Martin
May 19, 2022

How would you feel if you turned on the air conditioner and noticed a burning smell coming from the HVAC vents? Well obviously, it’s a matter of concern.

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The first thing that comes to mind is whether it is going to explode or if any wires are burning, and so on. The burning smell coming from vents is not natural because it can lead to a fire. Ignoring this smell is not a good idea because it is dangerous. That is why you have to find out the reason for the burning smell from the vents to solve it and also to take proper prevention.

Reason for Burning Smell Coming from Vents

Vent Issues

Burnt Dust

If you have gone several months without turning on the heating and you find a burning smell coming out when you turn it on, the reason could be burnt dust.Dust and Filth are carried by air and find their way into the home’s HVAC systems.

Filters, Vents, and Heating parts often become coated with thick layers of dust and dirt. When you put back the heat on, it can burn the dust, and the burning smell is produced.

You can fix this issue by cleaning the HVAC system regularly

Air duct filter

A/C Issues

Blocked Air Filter

Air filters are installed to trap dirt and dust that enter your HVAC system and keep it from circulating back into your home's air. You have to clean or replace it regularly. Because if the air filters get blocked, it becomes difficult for air to move.

This causes your fan to work much harder, which can lead to overheating and a burning smell from your AC unit. You have to replace the air filter after two months to fix this problem. If you haven't replaced your air filters in over two months, this can be another reason for the burning smell.

Overheating Motor

Because bearings can wear out over time, an overheating motor can cause a burning smell from the HVAC vents. You replaced the air filter, but the burning smell continues. Typically, greasing the bearings will solve the problem, but if the condition has progressed sufficiently, you may need to replace the entire motor.

Broken Capacitor

If the capacitor is not working, fails, or is broken, it starts to produce a burning smell. It is better to replace the capacitor with the help of professionals. If you replace the capacitor on time then this issue will be fixed.

Overheating Belt Drive Motor

Suppose the burning stench from your air conditioner smells rubbery. In that case, overheating the belt-drive motor of HVAC vents can be another reason for the burning smell. Some HVAC systems use belt drives to power their blowers, and with time, the rubber belt drives can become worn or even melt. It is better to replace the belt-drive motor to avoid the burning smell.

Electrical Issues

Failing Electrical Components

Another source of the burning smell that comes from the vent is that the HVAC system has a sulfur touch. Because the electrical components in your HVAC system are covered in plastic, the smell of plastic burning emitting from your HVAC system could be a signal that some of your wirings are overheating and malfunctioning. This issue is very risky. Turn off the HVAC system and call the experts for help to fix this issue.

Solution for Burning Smell Coming from Vents

  • Clean HVAC system regularly
  • Replace Air Filters after two months
  • The motor of The HVAC system should be replaced if it gets overheated and doesn't work
  • Turn off the HVAC system for a while if necessary
  • If the capacitor is broken, replace it immediately
  • Replace the Belt-Drive Motor if it gets burnt
  • Consult the Professionals to Fix the Problems
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Prevention for Burning Smell Coming from Vents

Everyone knows that prevention is better than the solution. So it’s better to prevent any sort of burning smell that doesn't emit from the HVAC system. Here’s what you can do to prevent it -

  • Check the HVAC system on a Regular Basis
  • Change the Air Filter on time
  • Clean the overall HVAC system to Avoid Problems
  • Remove all Dust and Dirt from the HVAC system
  • Take advice from experts and follow them

Call An Expert If It’s Needed

If you notice a burnt smell coming from your vents, the issue could be somewhere in your complete heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. It is difficult to identify and resolve the issue as you are not a professional in this field. That is, you should call an expert to fix this problem. Experts know their job and can do it without any mess. If you face any problem to repair it by yourself, you can call an expert who will come and fix the problem for you.

Final Note

In the end, it is normal to get panicked if any sort of burning smell comes from vents. When such a smell comes out from your HVAC vent, be prompt to find out the reasons. Try to resolve the issue as per your findings. But, if you take precautions on time, there is less chance of a burning smell coming from the vents. In this article, some of the reasons for this issue have been discussed. The solutions and prevention are also discussed that you can follow simply.

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