Experts calm fears over heaters' seasonal 'burn' smell - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Experts calm fears over heaters' seasonal 'burn' smell

Many are getting their heaters inspected after months of disuse. Many are getting their heaters inspected after months of disuse.

People are starting to fire up their heaters for the first time this fall. But for most, an awful burning smell is concerning them.

Experts say that burning smell is completely normal and nothing to worry about, but there are some instances where it can mean trouble.

When cold weather hits, the Huntsville Fire Department gets a number of calls from residents who fear their heaters have turned into fire hazards.

Lucas Cagle of the Huntsville Fire Department said, "It smells like a fire but your smoke detector is not going off. It's just the smell of your heater kicking on for the first time in months. Almost all units will experience that when they first come on for the season because dust has accumulated on either the heating elements or the heat exchanger."

Russell Hernandez of Joe East Heating and Air said, "I understand where people get concerned. It does smell like something burning. Unfortunately there is nothing you can do to prevent this and it's nothing to be concerned about."

The smell might happen right away or it could take a few days, but experts say it shouldn't last longer than 45 minutes.

Hernandez added, "Anything beyond that you might have it inspected to make sure you have not had any insulation from inside the duct work come loose."

Fortunately, that insulation is fire retardant and firefighters say heating systems as a whole aren't fire hazards.

Cagle clarified by saying by saying, "The heating elements inside of them are in protective compartments and they typically do not catch on fire."

Another thing to watch out for is gas heating systems. Experts say units over eight years old could be a carbon monoxide risk.

Those units need to be inspected once a year.

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