Serving Gillete, NJ & Neighboring Communities

Common HVAC Odors

Homes are filled with all sorts of aromas, some more pleasant than others. Coming home to the scent of freshly baked apple pie? Pleasant. The smell of long-forgotten leftovers? Not!

While rare, your heating and cooling systems can emit some interesting odors, too. The trick is tracing the source of the offending odor and figuring out whether it’s normal or cause for concern. To help you figure this out, here is a list of common HVAC odors, what they often mean, and what action, if any, is necessary.

Gym Socks

If this less-than-pleasant smell isn’t coming from actual stinky socks or a dirty pile of laundry, it could be due to a dirty coil inside a central air conditioning system or heat pump. Schedule a thorough system inspection and cleaning to eliminate the odor and ensure all components are operating properly, safely, and at max efficiency.

Musty Odor

If you notice a damp, musty smell at the start of the heating season, you may have an over-abundance of dirt and dust on your furnace’s heat exchanger. It’s common for some to accumulate as the system takes the summer off. The odor should vanish on its own, but if it persists, it’s time to call an HVAC pro for assistance.

Burning Plastic

The smell of burning plastic is a common odor associated with baseboard heating. It may be caused by a small toy or plastic utensil that has slipped inside the baseboard or floor vent. Just follow your nose to the location of the odor, dig out the culprit, and the smell should disappear shortly thereafter.


Electrical systems and wiring should not emit odors. If you notice an electrical burning smell, you may have a faulty electrical connection, overheated furnace motor, or cracked heat exchanger. Whatever the cause, it’s a matter that requires professional and immediate attention. Turn off your heating or cooling system and contact a trusted HVAC company right away.

Rotten Egg

On it’s own, natural gas is odorless. However, utility providers add the scent of rotten egg or sulfur to help us spot a potential gas leak. If your nose picks up this smell and there are no rotten eggs in sight, do not turn on or use any appliances, evacuate your house immediately, and call the gas company from a safe location.

Heating and cooling systems should provide uninterrupted and odorless indoor comfort. And the best way to ensure that yours do is with annual preventive maintenance by C&D Cooling & Heating. Our thorough cleanings and inspections are designed to help prevent problems and keep your systems in top working condition. Contact us today for more information or to schedule service.