Don't panic yet, there is probably a good harmless reason for this. Before I continue with this explanation, I do wish to make a blanket statement about this situation in the name of safety. If you smell smoke and are not sure if there is a real fire or not, we recommend to be on the safe side and seek help from local Fire Emergency Officials. If yourself or another person cannot verify that there is no fire in your property, call for help. It is always better to be safe than sorry.
|Heater Coils (Element)|
With that being said, I will continue on with a common situation that happens when people turn on their electric heater for the first time in awhile. The air conditioning system has a few types of heating systems. One type is the Heat Pump which works like a traditional air conditioning system, but reverses the flow of the freon. Instead of cooling, heating is produced. Another type of heater is designed to use burning gas to create heat. The type of heating system I am referring to in this post is the Electric Heating System. This system uses electricity to heat metal bars (heating elements) which in turn heats the air as it passes by. This is a very safe and efficient system when operating normally. In some rare cases, fire may result from improper installation, manufacturers defects, and damage to the system etc.. Like I said before, if you are not sure if you have a fire happening than we recommend calling in your local Fire Emergency Officials.
When a person turns on the electric heater for the first time in awhile, it is actually common to smell a bit of a "smokey" smell from the air ducts. So, these metal heating elements sit 95% of the time in the off state. If you live in South Florida with us, than the heater is barely used. As they sit, the elements collect dust and dirt. More dust and dirt build up the longer the heater remains dormant. When the power is switched on, the elements get very hot in order to heat the air. The dirt and dust which has collected begin to "burn-off". We are not talking about an actual fire inside the heater, but rather the smoldering of a thin layer of dust and dirt. It is enough to fill the home with a smokey oder, which is usually a very worrying issue.
|Hot heating coil elements|
It is normal to smell this smokey odor after turning on the heater for the first time in a year or more. NOTE: You should certainly never see visible smoke coming out of your air ducts or attic area in general. If you do, call your Local Fire Emergency Officials immediately. So, safety is always first. Typically, opening the windows and doors for an hour or so will get the smokey smell out of your house. This tip was just something to consider if this situation arises. We always recommend safety first, but knowing what we just discussed will help you make the determination if you are safe or not. Feel free to contact AirCool Mechanical Systems Inc if you have any concerns or questions about this topic. Be safe America, and stay warm this winter.