Why Does My Unit Smell Like It’s Burning?

Is there a weird smell making you nervous? 

Even though it seems like spring has sprung in the Lowcountry, we still get those chilly nights every once in a while. Are you cranking up your heat after not using it only to discover a weird, burning smell? It’s quite possible that your unit has a big problem. A burning smell could be a sign of a part overheating or even fire so it’s important for you to understand the steps to take to ensure that you can protect your AC unit and your home if this happens to you.


If you haven’t used your unit in a few days or weeks, it’s quite possible that dust has started to build upon your AC unit. When dust burns off, it takes on a burning smell. This is one of the most common reasons why your unit may be emitting an odor. It typically happens after summer, when you use your heat for the first time in the fall. 

It should subside after a few minutes but if it hasn’t or if you see smoke, be sure to turn off your AC system immediately and give us a call.


Haven’t changed your air filter in a while? It could be filled with dust and other debris. When the unit turns on and these particles start to burn off, you’ll definitely notice a smell. If this is the case, be sure to turn off your unit and change the air filter as soon as possible!


Sometimes the burning smell can be a sign of a bigger problem. If your blower is about to burn out, you’ll likely notice a burning smell. Blowers have two purposes: to pump cool air in your home out during the heating process and to keep the temperature of your unit in balance. Blowers are made to last at least a decade but if you run it too much, it can burn out quicker. This will cause a burning smell and also is a fire danger. Be sure to turn your AC system off immediately and give us a call to help.


Every unit has an AC capacitor which helps the motor of your unit run efficiently and effectively. If the capacitor goes bad or gives out altogether, it can cause an issue with the motor. Most likely, it will overheat causing it to give off a burning smell and for it to stop working. There are many reasons why this part could fail including normal wear and tear, overheating in the circuitry and even power surges. Give us a call and we can replace this part quickly and easily.


The fan is another integral part of your AC system functioning correctly. If it’s working too hard and overheating, it can also give off that unnerving smell. If the capacitor is in working order, then the problem may be with another part like the bearings. These can give out due to normal wear and tear. When this happens, your motor will likely overheat. Try lubricating the bearings. If this doesn’t solve the problem, then you’ll likely need to replace the fan motor. We can help with both of these. 


Does it smell like burning rubber when you turn on your unit? If your unit has a belt-drive blower instead of a direct-drive blower, it can wear down over time and cause this smell. If this happens, give us a call and we’ll get you a new belt-drive motor as soon as possible. 


If your unit smells like burning plastic, this is another sign of a major unit failure and it can be dangerous. Plastic components surround the wires in your AC system and if the wires start to burn, you’ll notice a foul odor. Electrical connections, loose screws or even short circuits could be to blame. If this happens, turn off your unit and give us a call immediately. This is not one you want to mess around with.

While a burning smell could be a non-issue, you never know and it’s important to take action immediately and seek help for bigger issues so they don’t become full-blown problems. 

Blanton and Sons is here to help you keep your unit in working order and your home and family safe! Call us today to discuss all of your home maintenance needs.