So I turned on the heater at my house for the first time today...

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Kevin Alexander, Oct 15, 2003.

  1. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    ...and I got this horrible "burnt" smell that came out of the vents because of not being used for so long. Of course, I immediately turned it off; but what can I do so as to not have that unpleasant smell again. Is there a filter that I change, or is there something to clean? I'd appreciate some help. Thanks.
     
  2. Eric_L

    Eric_L Screenwriter

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    you should specify if it is gas or electric. My guess is gas.

    I still have yet to need a heater as it is 90F in Florida today.

    If it is gas I suspect the smell could be anything from mildew being heated up to corosion to water vapors caught in the system catching carbon. But I am no expert and am just guessing.
     
  3. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    I think it's just dust on the heating elements. Happens every year here in New England when we first turn the heat back on. Generally burns itself off after a few cycles.
     
  4. Michael*K

    Michael*K Screenwriter

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    Yeah, the smell will usually go away after you've had the furnance running a day or two.
     
  5. Bill Griffith

    Bill Griffith Supporting Actor

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    Its just dust like someone said. And you really should be carfeul as this is a way to start a fire. If you HVAC system is dirty enough with this dust and lint and other burnable items and your house is dry you could easily start a fire.

    If you have a Central HVAC system there are access panels on it that you can open and clean the insides (Or you could hire someone to do it). Just make sure you shut off power to your system first. Clean them out real good a couple of weeks before you expect to need to use the heater. This should eliminate any chance of a fire starting and will minimize the smell, but won't get rid of it completely.
     
  6. David-S

    David-S Second Unit

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    Just turn it on a few days before you think you'll need it, and keep the windows open, that's what i did this year! (of course, my apt gets free heat, so you might not like this strategy as much [​IMG] )
     
  7. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    Yeah, we get that smell too, and it goes away after a day or so of running it.

    The big problem is that one of our cats completely freak out and SCREAMS at the top of her lungs when she smells it, for as long as it's on, so the first cold days of the year are rather annoying at our house... [​IMG]
     
  8. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    It usually goes away within an hour or so when I run my heat. Never bothers the cats, but one year it did set off the smoke detector. I later moved that particular detector further away from the duct. [​IMG]

    It is probably a good idea to have the ducts cleaned professionally once every couple of years, and - of course - to clean and/or change all the filters in the system (depending on type) at least once a year. But a certain amount of dust is inevitably going to collect and produce a smell when you run a heating system for the first time - especially one that is rarely used. (I live in southern Florida and probably need to run the heat a grand total of four or five days a year.) It isn't so much that the dust is burning, in most cases, as that it is being warmed up and blown into the room - and the warm particles excite your smell receptors more than cold ones do, just as warm foods smell "more" than cold ones do.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  9. DustinLC

    DustinLC Supporting Actor

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    Happen to us too. Not a very strong burnt smell and goes away in minutes. It seems that it's just a matter of degree for everyone. Normal so it seems.
     
  10. Travis Hedger

    Travis Hedger Supporting Actor

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    It will pass, I hate turning ours on the first time, but we like it a bit cooler, the wife and I, so we try to hold off as long as possible before using the heater so we can delay the smell, and save on electricy and gas even further.
     
  11. Greg_L_C

    Greg_L_C Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm a Firefighter and we get this call many times a year when people turn their heaters on for the first time of the season. Usually it just dusty elements or burners in the heater. if the smell doesn't go away after a couple of hours to a day or you see smoke come out of your vents, shut it off and make sure you dont have a fire or if your unsure call 911. I have seen plenums catch fire that where really dirty or somehow had gotten trash in them.

    Greg
     
  12. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    Well, at least everyone else has to put up w/ it as well. I don't feel so singled out.[​IMG]
     
  13. MarkHastings

    MarkHastings Executive Producer

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    Greg, what do you think of my method?

    Whenever I know cold weather is coming, I usually do a test burn of my heaters. Well, I try to vaccuum them out first, but then I start off at a low setting to make sure the dust burns slowly. Once that 'burnt dust' smell goes away, I will then turn the heat up.

    Is that a safe way to do it? Or does it not matter how hot the heater is? I figured it's safer to turn the heat on low and burn the dust rather than just cranking it up high.



    p.s. When I saw this thread, I read it as:
    So I turned on the theater at my house for the first time today...

    and I was like [​IMG], you've had a Home Theater and you're just turning it on now? [​IMG]
     
  14. Greg_L_C

    Greg_L_C Stunt Coordinator

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    Mark
    I'm far from an AC expert, but I have opened up a lot of units. I don't think you can just turn on the heat a little bit. When you turn on the thermostat the heater elements or burners fire up and stay on until the desired temp is reached. Some units are easy to get to the elements some are not. If you can easily get to yours you could check to see how dirty it is, check your cooling core and plenum to, sometimes you can see up in there. Be sure and turn off the breaker to the unit before trying anything. I know all gas units have a safety switch on the panel door to prevent operation with it open. The best thing to to is keep your filter clean and make sure your unit is sealed up properly. If you are unsure about anything call a professional. I have a guy go by my mothers house twice a year to check her burners in the winter and check everything out for the summer. If you have a gas unit make sure you have a nice blue flame, not yellow or orange.

    Greg
     

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