You depend on your heater to warm up chilly rooms during cold weather. Heaters often go for long periods without being used, however, and this disuse can make them less ready to do their job when the time comes. Occasionally, you may notice a dusty smell coming from the heater when you turn it on at the beginning of the colder months.
Cause of Dusty Smells From Space Heaters
When space heaters spend the summer months in storage, they can collect heavy layers of dust on the heating elements. Temperatures fall and people generally bring out the space heaters and turn them on immediately without doing preliminary maintenance to ensure they are in good condition for the heating season. When the element warms up, it burns off these layers of dust, creating a bad odor. Heaters can even smoke a bit until the layer is completely removed.
Cause of Dusty Smells From Furnaces
Similarly, furnace parts can also develop this same layer of dust on working elements. When the furnace is turned on at the beginning of the heating season, this dust gets burned off of elements and blown through the duct system, spreading a dusty odor throughout the house. The odor should not be a cause for concern unless there is a burning smell or smoke accompanying it.
Maintaining Heating Equipment
Cleaning off the space heater's surfaces before the first use of the season will remove the dust layer from the heating elements to minimize the unpleasant odor. The brush attachment of your vacuum cleaner is a good tool to use to remove dust from visible elements. An artist's brush with a long handle will help to clean off tighter areas, according to the Pelonis Heater site. Replacing furnace filters before turning them on for the season helps to remove dust that accumulates in the heating ducts. It is this dust layer that blows into the house upon initial starting. Cleaning off dust from the burning unit and ensuring that all vents are clear of obstruction will also help your furnace to function cleanly and efficiently. If any unusual sounds or smells come from your furnace, your local qualified furnace technician can return it to good operating condition.
Heater and Furnace Safety
You should only use a space heater that has an independent testing laboratory seal. The instruction manual that comes with your heater will give you specific directions how how the heater should be used. All objects should be kept at least 36 inches away from the space heater to minimize danger of fire, according the New Hampshire Heating Safety site StayWarmNH. Space heaters must be positioned in an open area without traffic or child's play that can knock it over. Homes with gas furnaces should install carbon monoxide alarms to prevent poisoning and deaths from this odorless gas. Get your furnace inspected and maintained annually.