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Welcome to the Campeau Heating Blog!

Looking for professional heating, cooling and air quality advice? Our experts share helpful news, tips and tricks every other week! 
 
Advice from the Professionals
October 2023

Furnace Smells To Watch Out For & What To Do Next

Bad Furnace Smells

Furnace Smells To Watch Out For & What To Do Next

If you haven’t already cranked the heat up, you will soon! Ontario’s winter forecast is in, and it’s going to be a doozy! 

With low temperatures and lots of snow, homeowners are in for it. Better make sure your furnace is ready to take the hit! 

If you sense anything amiss with your heating system, now is the time to get it fixed. 

Speaking of which…

In this article, our Campeau Heating team explores some not-so-welcome furnace smells. If you’ve yet to turn your furnace on this year, you’ll want to keep these smells in mind. They are warning signs, after all, potentially pointing to bigger issues.

It’s our mission to help you catch these furnace smells before they turn into big repair bills!

 

Unsafe Furnace Smells & What To Do Next

These are the furnace smells you shouldn’t ignore - they could pose a threat to your health, HVAC equipment and home!

Chemicals (Formaldehyde)

First up is the smell of formaldehyde. 

Formaldehyde is a colourless chemical with a strong, almost pickle-like odour. 

At room temperature, this chemical becomes a gas, making it a volatile organic compound (VOC). 

Burning natural gas, gasoline, wood, tobacco and kerosene all produce formaldehyde. Your system should contain the smell unless there is a crack in your heat exchanger. 

While invisible to you, formaldehyde is quickly sensed by your body or environment. 

At low levels, it can irritate your nose, eyes and throat. 

At high levels, it can pose a fire hazard and cause your furnace to leak carbon monoxide.

What To Do:

Step 1. 

  • Turn your furnace off. 

Step 2. 

  • Evacuate immediately. 

Step 3. 

  • Call a professional. 

Rotten Eggs 

The smell of rotten eggs should sound alarm bells in your mind. This furnace smell is one you should always be aware of and on the watch for. 

Natural gas is a highly flammable material that can cause a huge fire hazard and gas poisoning. 

Because natural gas is odourless, suppliers treat it with something called mercaptan. Mercaptan is what gives off that distinctive rotten egg smell.

They treat the gas so a leak can be easily and quickly detected.

What To Do:

Step 1. 

  • Evacuate immediately. 

Step 2.

  • Call a professional and/or the fire department right away. 

Smoke 

If your furnace smells like smoke, this could mean you have a blocked chimney. If this happens, your furnace could start venting smoke through your air ducts and into your home! 

What To Do:

Step 1.

  • If the smell is faint, call a professional and open windows in your home to increase ventilation. 

Step 2. 

  • If the smell is strong, evacuate your home and then call a professional to handle the issue.

Burnt Electrical 

A burnt electrical smell could point to:

  • An overheated furnace.
  • Damaged rubber components.
  • Damaged metal components.

Each of these potential issues poses a safety risk in your home. So don’t ignore it! 

What To Do:

Step 1. 

  • Turn off your furnace right away. 

Step 2. 

  • Call a professional. 

Hot Metal

The smell of hot metal is like that of burning electrical. But typically, it has more of an iron scent.

This smell could point to an electrical issue or an overheating problem. 

What To Do:

Step 1. 

  • Call a professional. 

Burning Plastic

If your furnace smells like burning plastic, there’s typically a very obvious culprit in the way. 

The smell of burning or melting plastic typically points to exactly that - a piece of plastic next to or touching your furnace. 

It could be something as small as a dog toy left too close to your system!

What To Do:

Step 1.

  • If safe to do so, remove the plastic. If not, call a professional to do it for you!

 

Harmless Furnace Smells

These are the smells that you don’t need to worry about - they’re completely harmless! 

In most cases, these smells are natural to furnace operation. But if any of these smells are new to you or make you uncomfortable, we highly recommend giving us a call.

Our priority is always your safety, comfort and peace of mind. And our furnace experts work with these systems all day, every day. We know them in and out! 

We’ll let you know if the smell is safe or if it has escalated into something harmful. 

Mustiness 

Musty furnace smells are typically nothing to worry about. The cause is usually moisture trapped inside your furnace. This moisture and smell should both dissipate in a few hours.

If, however, the smell does not leave after a few hours, it may mean you have mould growing in your furnace. 

Because mould can be toxic, you should monitor this smell the minute you sense it. 

What To Do:

Step 1. 

  • If the smell lasts more than a few hours, call a professional. 

Burning Oil (Diesel)

The smell of burning oil typically points to a clogged furnace filter. Thankfully, this is one of the easiest smells to fix - all you need is a new filter!

Related Article: How To Choose and Care For Your Furnace Filter 

We recommend changing your furnace filter every 90 days. If you have a large family or pets, this could increase to every 30-60 days!

What To Do:

Step 1. 

  • Change your furnace filter. If this doesn’t work to get rid of the smell, call a professional. 

Burnt Dust 

The smell of burnt dust is very typical if you've just powered on your furnace. 

Over the summer, the system’s been sitting in the basement, collecting dust. When turned on again, that dust then begins to burn away. No wonder you can smell it throughout the house!

Don’t worry. It usually only takes a few hours for the smell to leave. 

What To Do:

Step 1. 

  • Let your furnace run until the smell dissipates. If that doesn’t work, call a professional.

Dirty Socks

If you’re smelling dirty socks, your nose probably isn't far off from the truth. 

This smell typically indicates a buildup of bacteria in your furnace.

This buildup is usually caused by a buildup of condensation - causing a repulsive odour. 

What To Do:

Step 1. 

  • Schedule a furnace cleaning and replace your filter. If this doesn’t work, book a duct cleaning! 

 

Trust Your Nose - Give us a call!

When it comes to weird furnace smells, you have to trust your nose. While many smells aren't a cause for concern, others could put you and your family at risk. 

Keep the above list handy this winter! You never know when you might need to reference it. 

We also encourage all our Sudbury homeowners to invest in preventative furnace maintenance. 

During this visit, we ensure your furnace is ready for the harsh season ahead. We do our best to lower the rest of furnace breakdowns, leaks and other untimely repairs.

Give our Sudbury heating team a call at 705-560-2441 or contact us online!

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Should You Replace Your Furnace With a Heat Pump?

Snow falling on fall leaves in Sudbury, Ontario.

Should You Replace Your Furnace With a Heat Pump?

Old man winter is on his way! It’s only a matter of time before our lakes freeze over and our trees are heavy with snow. 

In Northern Ontario, we are no stranger to frigid winters. The real challenge is preparing our homes to take on the cold before it hits! 

According to Farmer’s Almanac, we can expect quite the cold and snowy season ahead. If you like skiing or snowmobiling, this is your year! White, fluffy snow and below-average temperatures are well on the way.

But while you gear up for a fun winter outdoors, it’s crucial that you also set up your heating system. 

Living in Northern Ontario has taught us one very valuable lesson: 

Investing in reliable and affordable heat is imperative!

Is your Sudbury heating system built to withstand the frigid weather ahead? Nobody wants to experience winter with pricy heating and repair bills.

This leaves many homeowners asking whether replacing their furnace with a heat pump is the way to go. 

After all, heat pumps are one of the most effective ways to save money on your heating bills!

But replacing your entire system isn’t always the answer. 

In this article, we discuss one of our most popular heating upgrades - the hybrid heat pump! 

 

When Is It Time To Upgrade Your Furnace?

Replacing or upgrading your furnace is a big investment. If you’re like most homeowners, you’re planning to wait until it's 100% broken before taking the plunge.

While this may be a good option when saving up for a new heating system, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. 

Waiting until your furnace stops working means you’ll be making that dreaded no-heat call. 

The call nobody wants to make! 

It always seems to happen at the worst time - in the middle of the night, during an ice storm or before a big family get-together. 

If your furnace stops working in the middle of winter, the temperature in your home is bound to drop - fast! This puts your family at risk - especially if you have young children or elderly individuals living in your home. 

No heat also risks your other home appliances, plumbing and HVAC systems.

No-Heat Risks:

  • Frozen pipes 
  • Gas leaks
  • Elevated carbon monoxide 

For this reason, we typically recommend watching out for a few furnace warning signs. Unusual noises, strange smells and uneven heating are just a few that you should watch out for. 

Furnace Warning Signs:

  • Poor indoor air quality 
  • Frequent cycling on and off 
  • Frequent repair visits 
  • Excessive dust in your home 
  • Unusually high heating bills 

You’ll also want to check the age of your furnace. These systems last roughly 15-30 years. If yours is nearing the end of its lifespan, you’ll want to start planning an upgrade very shortly.

 

Heat Pump vs. Furnace

Now that you know when to replace your furnace, it’s time to explore your options. 

Today, many homeowners are switching from a traditional furnace to a more affordable heating unit. One of the most popular upgrades is from a fuel furnace to a heat pump. And it’s no wonder! 

With today’s advanced technology, heat pumps can reach 300-400% efficiency! 

Related Article: The 2-in-1 Heat Pump - Your Energy Efficiency Answer to Year-Round Heating and Cooling

Heat Pump 

A heat pump is an all-in-one furnace and air conditioner.

This system transfers thermal energy to heat or cool your home. 

In the winter, it can reduce your energy usage by up to 50% compared to electric resistance heating - a must for Sudbury heating!

There are a few different types of heat pumps, depending on the source of thermal energy. The two most popular sources include air and geothermal. But there is an option to use a nearby water source as well!

Heat pumps even offer improved indoor air filtering and dehumidification!

Pros

  • Improved home comfort
  • Lower energy bills 
  • Heating & cooling compatibility 
  • Improved air quality 

Cons

  • Loses efficiency in lower temperatures 
  • Higher upfront costs 
  • Lasts 10-15 years

Furnace 

A furnace is a forced air heating system. Instead of transferring existing heat, it uses combustion to create new heat. 

Furnaces typically burn fuel (i.e. gas, oil or propane) to create heat. But there are also electric and wood furnaces.

Furnaces have been around since the 1800s. But the process of burning fuel for heat existed long before that. It is a tried and true heating method, and it’s not going anywhere! 

Pros 

  • Improved home comfort 
  • Reliability in lower temperatures 
  • Lasts 15-30 years

Cons

  • Only offers heat 
  • Only reaches up to 90% efficiency 
  • Higher operation costs

Today, forced air furnaces are still considered Canada's primary home heating system. But don't let that sway you! 

In light of increased energy efficiency, heat pumps continue to climb in popularity! 

Global sales of heat pumps grew by 11% in 2022 alone!

Thankfully, there’s a way to combine the systems and get the best of both worlds.

 

Introducing The Hybrid Heat Pump

The hybrid heat pump is a dual system that combines your existing furnace with a heat pump. 

This upgraded system brings homeowners the benefit of both systems. Your system alternates between them accordingly, depending on which is more efficient at the time. 

Hybrid heat pump systems intuitively know when to use one unit over the other. They switch depending on the season, necessary function and temperature.

This dual operation ensures optimal efficiency and home comfort!

 

Benefits of Upgrading to a Hybrid Heat Pump

Hybrid heat pump systems are great for Ontario homeowners.

As we all know, Ontario experiences all four seasons to their full extent. Our summers are hot and humid. Our winters are frigid and snowy. In Northern Ontario, we especially get the brunt of the weather!

That’s why efficient and reliable Sudbury heating is so crucial. It can make or break your budget and your home comfort!

A hybrid system selects the most efficient heating/cooling unit based on a few factors. It then heats/cools your home as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

The goal? To ensure you don’t pay more than you need to for optimal home comfort.

Benefits of a Hybrid Heat Pump

  1. Lower Carbon Footprint
  2. Efficient Heating
  3. Energy-Cost Resilience
  4. Easy Operation
  5. Year-Round Home Comfort

See Our Napoleon Hybrid Heat Pump Model

Get a Free Quote 

With the rising need for energy efficiency, we offer only the most affordable and effective heating solutions. 

That’s why we work with innovative HVAC suppliers like Napoleon! 

Napoleon offers unmatched technology and design - providing homeowners with effective, efficient, and affordable HVAC.

 

Canada Greener Homes Grant

Apply Now

Save up to $5,600 on a new hybrid heat pump!

The Government of Canada is helping Canadians increase energy efficiency in their homes - for less.

Their goal is to help you save money and fight climate change.

Here's how this helps you!

GRANTS FROM $125 TO $5,000

To get back a portion of your costs for eligible home retrofits.

UP TO $600

This is a maximum contribution toward the total costs of your pre and post-retrofit EnerGuide evaluations.

Learn more about the Canada Greener Homes Grant.

 

Get In Touch

We’ve already been busy helping Sudbury homeowners wind down their A/Cs and prep their furnaces!

Are you ready to get your furnace geared up for the season? 

Give us a call at 705-560-2441! 

We’ll help you find the best Sudbury heating solution for your home, budget and lifestyle. 

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