After having a reliable oil burner for nearly 30 years, it was recommended
to me last year to have a new one installed. I agreed because the blower was
making a strange sound and my hvac tech said that, due to age, the blower
would be difficult/ impossible to replace. Not only that but there was a
strange smell coming from the ducts every time the heater was running. It's
hard for me to describe since I don't have a good nose, but all I can say is
that I could hardly stand the smell. I wouldn't say it was a soot smell
exactly- more like "rotten" soot is the best way I could describe it. I
figured a new oil burner installation would cure this. Before the cold set
in this year, I had a new unit installed. Everything was replaced with new
except my heater ducts. The heater runs great and is much quieter than my
old unit, but the same strange smell has persisted and it has not become
less over time. I have concerns about breathing whatever this is and I am
posting here looking for solutions to cure it. Any idea what could be
causing it and how do I get rid of the odor? As long as the furnace isn't
running, I don't smell anything but the minute air starts coming from the
vents, the odor is nearly overwhelming.
I have to agree with Chuck. Have someone check the ducts, including the
I am not a fan of cleaning ducts, but there is a limited number of
situations that call for cleaning and it sounds like you have on of those
If you can, open a section of the supply duct and swab a sample
off the metal surface. See if it's sooty/smelly.
You don't say, but if the furnace has central A/C attached,
the evap coil could be fouled and producing the odors.
Sounds a lot like "Dirty Sock Syndrome" That occurs mostly with heat
pumps but can also occur on AC coils. Clean the AC coil with detergent
type coil cleaner. Keep spraying the coil with the cleaner so that it
stays wet for at least 10 minutes. Use a wet/dry vac to continuously
suck the suds produced out the condensate drain line. Then rinse with
Use a pump type garden sprayer to clean the coil.
If you don't have AC also, please disregard my post.
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