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Answering Important Why Questions Regarding HVAC

four seasons

HVAC is a key concern for homeowners during Fall and Spring. Cooler temperatures provide a much-deserved break for your heating and air conditioning system; however, switching the thermostat to heat can reveal issues with your unit. In this article, we will answer three common questions from homeowners turning on their heaters for the first time:

  • Why does my heater smell bad?
  • Why is my heater blowing cold air?
  • Why does my heater keep turning on and off?

I) Why Does My Heater Smell Bad?

Homeowners often notice strange odors when they first turn on their heaters. The type and duration of the smell can tell you a lot about the source of the smell:

  • A burning smell is likely indicative of dust and dirt collecting in your vents and ducts. The smell should dissipate in a couple of days.
  • A musty odor could result from mold in your furnace filter or in your ductwork. If the furnace filter is not the culprit, have your system inspected by a professional HVAC technician.
  • The smell of burning plastic could be caused by anything from a toy trapped in your vents to a failing furnace or heat pump components. If you do not find the source of the odor in your vents, have your unit inspected by a professional.
  • If you notice an electrical burning odor it is vital to have your system checked by a professional.

2) Why Is My Heater Blowing Cold Air?


If you have recently moved to a home heated by a heat pump as opposed to a gas furnace, you will feel a difference in the temperature of the air from your supply vents. Unless your heater fails to warm the air to your thermostat’s temperature setting, do not be alarmed. If your HVAC system is struggling to meet your desired temperature, look for these signs:

1) Dirty Air Filters: Whether you have a furnace or heat pump, make sure you regularly change your air filters.

2) Leaking Refrigerant:Your unit requires adequate refrigerant even when the weather is cooler. If your heater is blowing cold air, leaking refrigerant is a likely culprit.

3) Pilot Light Extinguished:If you have a furnace, your pilot light may be out. You can attempt to relight it, but if it cannot be sustained, you will need to contact a professional HVAC technician.

4) Improperly Sized Unit:If your unit is too large or too small, it may manifest in an inability to properly heat or cool your home.

5) Malfunctioning Components: Aging, malfunctioning components in your HVAC unit may lead to your heater blowing cold air. Possible malfunctions include:

  • Damaged fan blades
  • Old or damaged condenser coils
  • Proper clearance around unit
  • Leaking Ductwork

This issue will only worsen as temperatures cool. To ensure your family is warm and cozy throughout the winter, address this issue as soon as possible.

3) Why Does My Heater Turn Off and On

air filter

Does your heater turn on and off too frequently, or trip the circuit breaker? This may not be a mere inconvenience—it may be indicative of an issue requiring attention and repair. Issues that will cause your heating system to engage and disengage too quickly include:

  • Dirty air filters
  • Malfunctioning thermostat
  • Shorted or grounded system wiring
  • Improperly sized unit
  • Leaking refrigerant
  • Malfunctioning condenser coils

Maintenance Plans are the most effective way to ensure your family stays warm all winter.