Heater Smells

Does Your Heater Smell Like Something is Burning?

As we approach the winter months, we turn on our furnace or heater for our homes for the first time in months. Oftentimes, there is a burning smell associated with turning on the heater for the first couple of times. You might wonder why this happens and if this is normal.

Heater Smells

The answer is yes, this is common every year and it is normal. However, it is preventable and a sign your HVAC system needs a service. Let’s take a look.

Zinc Inspections offers a variety of home inspections in Vancouver for both residential and commercial properties to detect these sorts of hidden problems.

A HIABC licensed home inspector can tell you if your washer and dryer components are up to code and venting systems are in good working order.

Heater Smells

Dirty Air Handler Filter

Why Your Heater Smells Like It’s Burning

Throughout the summer months, you might have your A/C system cranked up. During this time, a lot of dust gets blown through the HVAC system and collects on your filter.

However, dust may collect past your filter if your filter is not properly maintained. Your filter should be the right size, of good quality, and replaced frequently. If not, this can lead to dust collection on your evaporator coils.

By the time winter hits, if dust collects on your evaporator coils, dust can burn off once you turn on your heater for the first time. This is quite common, however, it’s a sign your HVAC system was not properly maintained.

Dust on Evaporator Coils

Effects of Dust Collection

While dust collection on evaporator coils may not seem like such a bad thing if it is burned off every year, it can actually have a lot of effects on your HVAC system overall.

For example, a thin layer of dust on your blower fan, which can be caused by dust getting through the evaporator coils, can significantly reduce the efficiency of your HVAC system. It could even cause your unit to freeze up.

Moreover, dust can contain mold and other harmful contaminants that should have been removed from the air.

Overall, improper HVAC maintenance can lead to many issues and reduce the life of your HVAC system.

home inspections in Vancouver

HVAC Maintenance

We recommend servicing your HVAC system twice a year, once before summer, and once before winter. During this time, your technician will ensure your evaporator coils are clean so when you do turn on your heat, there is no smell.

Also, we recommend replacing your filter every 30-90 days depending on the activity level in your home. If you have pets and children, consider replacing your filter more often.

Lastly, we recommend pouring vinegar down your condensation line every 30-90 days, again depending on the activity level in your home.

Final Thoughts

If your heater smells like it is burning, the most likely cause is the dust is being burned off. While it is not an immediate concern and is quite common, it is preventable and it is a sign your system has not been properly maintained.


Home Inspection in Vancouver has gained popularity because it is a relatively simple process compared to purchasing a home. A home inspection by a qualified home inspection specialist is when an experienced home inspector conducts a visual inspection of the outside, interior, foundation, flooring, lighting, walls, ventilation, and heating system of the house and prepares a written report for the customer. The highest qualified home inspectors in Vancouver are licensed through the HIABC.

Zinc Inspections is owned and operated by Ali Javaheri, a licensed member of The Home Inspectors Association BC (HIABC) with more than 15 years of experience in BC’s housing industry.

Contact Us at Zinc Inspections if you have any questions or concerns about your property: