If your furnace is acting up, should you wait to see if it will get better or should you call an emergency furnace repair expert? Here's what you need to know.

In 2020, the US consumed about 93 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) of energy. That’s a lot of energy, a good chunk of which goes toward space heating alone.

Most US households, in turn, rely on furnaces to keep their homes warm for both comfort and safety. Do note that cold weather can cause illnesses and even deaths in severe cases.

However, defective furnaces can be just as dangerous. As such, it’s a must you know when to call emergency furnace repair experts.

This guide will cover the basics of when furnace woes aren’t emergencies and when they are, so be sure to read on.

1. Smoke-Like Smells Don’t Always Require Emergency Furnace Repair

In some cases, indoor air can harbor two to five times more pollutants than outdoor air. In severe cases, indoor air pollutant levels can even be 100 times greater than outdoor air.

Many of those contaminants can find their way into your furnace and settle there. Those pollutants will keep forming layers of residue so long as you’re not using your furnace.

Once you do fire up your heater, it will burn off all that dust and debris build-up. This is why furnaces that haven’t undergone pre-seasonal maintenance emit smoky odors.

Those smells should dissipate in an hour or so, though, once the heater has burned all the residue away. Be sure to monitor the strength of the odors; it should keep getting milder every minute or so. So long as the stench fades, you likely don’t need emergency furnace repair service.

2. When It’s a Must To Call a Pro for Smoky Furnace Odors

If the burning odors get stronger, shut off your heater right away. Then, call a 24-hour provider of heating and cooling services for emergency assistance.

Your furnace’s burners may either have severe damage or are burning foreign objects. A defective pipe may also be feeding your heater too much gas or fuel, causing it to burn erratically.

Either way, get in touch with a 24-hour furnace repair specialist to look at and fix your heater over the next hour or so. Keep in mind that a faulty furnace can cause a house fire or, if it has a gas leak, cause an explosion.

3. Rotten Egg Smells From the Heater Warrant Emergency Services

On its own, natural gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. For this reason, natural gas companies add a substance called mercaptan to it. Mercaptan is a harmless chemical, but it stinks; it’s reminiscent of rotten eggs.

The addition of mercaptan makes natural gas leaks easier to detect. Immediate detection is crucial as natural gas, in high amounts, can cause suffocation. There’s also the flammability and explosiveness of natural gas in high concentrations.

So if your natural gas furnace emits rotten egg-like smells, shut off both the heater and the gas valve ASAP. Open a few nearby windows and evacuate your home immediately.

Once outside, call a furnace repair professional and emergency services, such as 911. You should also ring up your natural gas supplier to inspect your gas line for damage.

Don’t Let a Defective Heater Put You in Danger

Don’t delay calling for help if your heater keeps emitting strong, foul smells. The only exception is if it produces mild smoky odors that dissipate quickly. Other than that, it’s best to have an emergency furnace repair expert fix your unit within the same day.

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